The Cactus Conundrum: Planting, Pairing and Potting
Posted by Jason Wyrwicz on Aug 19th 2022
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of nowhere for the past few years (ha!) you are aware of the MASSIVE impact that the cactus has had on every facet of our lives. Cacti have jumped from the ground and the pot onto textiles, accessories, and pop culture in general.
The best thing about the cactus “uprising” is that it’s brought to light (sorry about all of these puns, guys) just how great the cactus is as a houseplant—and how versatile it is! More people than ever are falling in love with all sorts of succulents—spikes or otherwise—and have found them remarkably easy to maintain.
A cactus is the perfect plant for you if all other plants have failed you (or vice-versa). Cacti only need to be watered once every two to three weeks, and they need fertilizer once a month at most. There’s a species for everyone’s tastes, so it’s not difficult to please a picky plant partner. And with endless varieties available just about anywhere, they’re a plant for everyone’s budget, and they make a great gift.
But even though your cactus is lower-maintenance than your couch surfing friend from college, there are certain ways to plant these slow-growers that will really make them thrive, versus merely survive.
Don’t worry, though. We’ve not only got the scoop, but the planters to match.
So, let’s look today at some of the aspects to consider when choosing both your cactus—or cacti—and the planter to go with it, as well as looking at some of our top picks for the perfect pairing.
Planting and Prep
The perfect planter is an integral part of your cactus experience, but it’s not the first stop.
In order to get your cactus ready for success, you have to create the right conditions for optimal growth and health. After all, one of the reasons we love cacti so much is for all of the ways that it’s unlike other plants.
Get Sand in Your Plants.
There’s a reason you don’t typically find a cactus in the middle of a lush rainforest or otherwise wet climate. That’s simply not what the cacti is all about. And if you’re going to keep your cacti healthy and strong, you’re going to have to start thinking in terms of the cactus as a different beast, with different needs and preferences that allow it to really come alive.
The majority of cacti species come from arid, desert-type environments, so that’s what you’re going to have to recreate in your pot. Make sure that your soil mixture includes about half-sand, or as an alternative, crumbled-up pumice stone works great. At the very least, make sure you've got rocks at the bottom of your planter to help with the drainage.
No Drain, No Gain.
In the same vein as the desert-type sand/soil combo, we need to create an environment that doesn’t retain water. If you do, you’ll risk your cactus biting the dust before you can say “Sahara”.
We’ll talk more about the considerations you should take when choosing your planter, but for now, know that all of our planters at Pots Planters & More come with a “drainage holes” option—so don’t worry about that part whatsoever.
Here’s where we come in!
When trying to find the best potting solution for your cacti, some of the main factors to consider are:
Because cacti’s root systems are more compact and they’re really not looking for too much water, you’re better off with a smaller pot.
This absolutely depends on the species of cactus that you’re looking to plant, of course—there are certainly larger cacti that don’t want to be squished into our smallest models. Let’s take a look together at which option would be best for what you’ve chosen.
Be a Little Shallow.
This is especially true if you’re looking for a planter to create a “cactus garden” or combining succulents of any type. As we’ve said before, cactus root systems are compact and ready to party. They’re not reaching for water, after all.
Do not feel obligated whatsoever to run towards our longer, more tubular models—you’ll have to make planting adaptations to make sure your cactus is getting exactly what it needs, and not a bit more.
Our Cactus-Planter Picks
Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana) x The Marseille Low Bowl Planter
We’ve gushed about The Marseille before, but now we’ve got the opportunity to help you make the match!
The Marseille Low Bowl Planter would make an outstanding option for anyone looking to create a cactus garden, and its shallow shape is a game-changer for cactus planting. But if you’re a one-cactus guy or gal, the squat, round “old lady” cactus would be a great option here.
Peanut Cactus (Echinopsis chamaecereus) x The Short Hayden Tabletop Planter Pot
It’s no secret that the cactus is a winning option in both indoor and outdoor scenarios, and The Short Hayden can help make your indoor cactus dreams a reality.
With a small, compact shape that’s perfect for any room in your house, we think that the Hayden would be a great fit with a blooming peanut cactus.
Mexican Fence Post Cactus (Pachycereus marginatus)x The Walden Cube Planter
Classic, contemporary, and the perfect backdrop for the funkiest of cacti! We love The Walden for its chic simplicity and clean lines.
Because of its size, The Walden needs a slightly larger cactus-complement. A Mexican Fence Post would be perfect with The Walden and will make a big statement, whether indoors or out.
If you couldn’t tell before, we’re just as crazy about cacti as you are! If you need any more help, recommendations, or information, we here at Pots Planters and More are happy to get you started on your journey.
Working with plants and their accessories, after all, is what we’re all about; no spines—er, bones—about it.