The Christmas cactus is a beautiful plant characterized by its segmented pieces and bright red flowers that bloom in time for the holidays. As a cactus, this plant requires little attention and grows best when left in semi-tropical climates. Someone who is trying to grow this plant indoors or in a pot will need to find a soil that best matches its humid well-draining native environment. If you are struggling to identify the best potting soil for your Christmas cactus, check out this convenient buying guide and four of our top picks.
What to Know When Picking Soil for Christmas Cactuses
The first thing to understand when searching for the right potting soil is that the Christmas cactus does not prefer the traditional cactus environment. Too many people associate any plant in the cactus family with dry deserts and little rainfall. However, the Christmas cactus hails from Brazil and is therefore accustomed to humid climates and a reasonable amount of moisture. It is essential to pick a potting soil that has adequate drainage, some compost for nutrients, and no added fertilizers.
A common mistake people make when choosing a potting soil is picking a model that does not drain well. When a plant like the Christmas cactus is placed in a pot, a frequent occurrence is moisture becoming trapped in heavy soil and failing to drain out of the holes at the bottom. When trying to find the ideal potting soil for the Christmas cactus, choose a model that contains ingredients like small rocks or stones. They will not absorb water and provide a route for excess liquid to drain.
Compost and Nutrients
One of the most essential components of proper Christmas cactus potting soil is adequate compost. The right soil will have some type of decomposing organic life or a similar nutritious additive like compost or loam. These materials will provide adequate vitamins and minerals to the plant while it thrives and grows. Remember that the nutrition in your potting soil will need to be replaced on a regular basis, otherwise, your plant will start to run out.
Finally, you need to choose a potting soil that does not rely on a bunch of added chemicals. Try to pick a brand and mix that does not have added fertilizers or too many ingredients that affect the acidity or alkaline nature. The best potting soil for a Christmas cactus will be one with as few amendments as possible.
Check Out These Great Options
The Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Soil is a great option for individuals who are unsure of how to care for their Christmas cactus. This variety offers enough nutrition to keep your cacti happy for up to three months while providing adequate drainage. The mixture is ideal for a broad range of plants, including cacti and citrus trees like the lemon. The formula is enriched with Miracle-Gro to provide enough nutrition but does not contain the dreaded additives like excessive fertilizer.
This formula is best for indoor potted plants and is formulated to hold an extra 25% of moisture. It does not need to be mixed before use and includes some ingredients like perlite and twigs. When removed from the bag, it is light and airy with few clumps, making it easy to use and spread.
- Avoids using excessive fertilizers
- Contains enough nutrition for several months
- Easy to spread with few clumps
- Nutrient-rich and great moisture
- Contains too many sticks and twigs
- Might be too heavy for young Christmas cacti
This Next Gardener succulent and cacti potting mix is completely organic and imported from Denmark. It is formulated to include all of the nutrients a Christmas cactus could desire while still being lightweight and airy. It is easy to remove the bag and doesn’t require extra aeration while being free of clumps. The pH balance is around 5.5, which is on the acidic end. However, the rating is not severe enough to have a negative effect on the Christmas cactus and is still valuable.
This particular soil mix is designed to prevent root rot by being well-draining. Some potting soils contain additives that contribute to root rot, so it is nice to see a model made with the unique needs of succulents and cacti in mind. The mix content is 75% substrate and 25% perlite. Packages are sold containing 2 quarts, 4 quarts, or 8 quarts depending on your needs.
- Prevents root rot
- Easy to apply and drains water well
- Cleaned before packaging to avoid vermin
- Slightly acidic but not harmful to cacti
The Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is true to its name, is composed of organic ingredients that facilitate growth and wellness. This mixture is intended to be used for cacti and succulents, meaning it features adequate drainage and medium levels of nutrition. Although traditional cacti soil would be too thin to keep a Christmas cactus happy, this variety is thick enough to retain the ideal amount of moisture.
Each package contains four quarts, enough to pot several Christmas cacti. The formula is even customized to suit jungle cacti, so you don’t have to worry about adding any extra organic material. Finally, this potting soil is ready to use straight out of the bag with no aerating or mixing. This makes it easy to spend a day transplanting cacti if you are like my great grandmother and propagate these in huge numbers.
- Encourages maximum bloom and root development
- Is specially formulated for jungle cacti
- Package includes growing information for novices
- The four-quart bags only contain enough soil for one or two cacti
- The twigs can be overlong and annoying
Besides having a fun name, the premium cacti soil produced by Fat Plants San Diego is one of the best options for the Christmas cactus. This mix is nutrient-rich but also 100% organic, containing enough nutrition to keep the plant healthy as it grows and thrives. The pH value is well-balanced, being neither alkaline nor acidic. It is also well-draining and will contain just enough liquid to satisfy the pickiest of Christmas Cacti.
Fat Plants San Diego hand mixes every bag and always includes organic material that has been screened to avoid the transfer of disease. The concoction can also help prevent root rot by eliminating excess moisture. It is available in three amounts: 0.5 gallons, 1 gallon, and 2 gallons. Plus, you get a handwritten card from the manufacturers thanking you for your purchase.
- Has the ideal amount of moisture retention and drainage
- Features a well-balanced pH level
- Prevents root rot
- Includes pumice for better drainage
- Small particle size because of the low number of rocks
The Ramsey Succulent Soil mix for cacti is one of the only brands currently on the market that takes advantage of the unique benefits of seaweed, which contains many of the nutrients a Christmas cactus needs to remain strong and healthy. This formula utilizes seaweed, perlite, and sand to create a well-draining but nutritious mix that does not suffer from the weight of extra additives. The formula is fine and airy, easy to spread without clumping. There are no twigs or harsh materials that can block drainage in a standard indoor pot.
This is a unique blend that includes nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, and magnesium without relying on synthetic sources. It is available in four-quart packages and can retain water without becoming weighed down. Christmas cacti should not suffer from root rot or stagnant liquid when planted in the Ramsey Succulent Soil. Plus, all of the ingredients are organic and cleaned before being packaged to ensure there is no transfer of disease or pests, a common problem among larger brands.
- Easy to spread and apply
- Chock full of ideal nutrients without additives
- Retains moisture well
- A refund is available if you are not satisfied
- The sand can drain out of the bottom of a pot if not careful
Although the Christmas cactus is different than most ‘standard’ cacti, there are still tons of options available on the market when it comes to potting soil. Out of all of the options reviewed here, the best one is the Fat Plants San Diego Premium Organic Cacti and Succulent Soil. This product meets all of the necessary requirements, including being well-draining while still allowing enough moisture to remain in the pot. It even has a well-balanced pH and is easy to spread, making it a great option for amateur and experienced gardeners alike.
If you are not satisfied, then consider using a more nutrient-rich variety like the Ramsey Succulent Soil Organic Cactus Mix, which saves gardeners some of the guesswork when it comes to fertilizing cacti properly. Whatever the case may be, enjoy your beautiful blooms and be prepared for intense propagation.