How to choose the right pots for cacti

How to Choose the Right Pots for Cacti

Last updated on May 18th, 2024 at 09:38 am

Pot material – what to choose

Choose the right pots for Cacti.  Different types of succulents are most often grown in pots made of baked clay or plastic. Expensive ceramic pots look beautiful and traditionally remain in demand, although they are not without drawbacks. They have the following characteristics:

How to Choose the Right Pots for Cacti

  1. Porosity. The surface of clay products “breathes”, quickly absorbs and evaporates moisture, but this is not always good: the plant has to be watered more often, which leads to the formation of a salt coating on the inner walls of the pot and rapid alkalization of the soil.
  2. Heavy weight. Heavy containers are stable, you can safely grow tall types of cacti in them, but they are difficult to move from place to place.
  3. Ability to maintain shape. Ceramic pots practically do not change in appearance over time and plant roots are unable to destroy them, but if handled carelessly, they simply break.

Plastic pots are either disposable or reusable. The first ones are very cheap, break easily, and are used mainly for pre-sale transplantation of plants grown in greenhouses and greenhouses.

Reusable pots are made of dense plastic; they are also light in weight, but relatively durable. They look much more attractive, but they also cost significantly more.

It is not recommended to grow large succulents in them: the low weight of the pots makes them unstable, capable of tipping over even from a slight push. However, their main drawback is that the walls of plastic products do not allow moisture to pass through. 

To prevent the roots of cacti growing in such pots from rotting, the amount of water for watering them is limited to of the volume required by plants living in ceramics. 

In addition, the substrate enclosed in plastic dries unevenly – its surface is already completely dry on top, but moisture is still retained in the deeper layers. Pots made from this material are better suited for planting low and medium-sized plants.

How to Choose the Right Pots for Cacti

A small container contains less soil, so the evaporation of excess liquid occurs more evenly and the watering procedure will not cause damage to the roots of the succulent.

Shape selection

The main requirement for cactus or succulent pots is the presence of drainage holes at the bottom, and the choice of shape and design has more aesthetic than practical significance. For bushy and spreading succulents, simple white, beige, and brown round pots are suitable. Small, rarely flowering plants are planted in bright containers of unusual shapes.

Compositions on window sills can be placed in yellow or orange containers. So even on a cloudy day it will seem like the sun’s rays are playing on the window. Plants with strict lines are most suitable for containers that match the Japanese style. 

For example, flat rectangular containers on a wooden stand, decorated with hieroglyphs, or pots with contrasting colors from light to darker colors.

Pots for cacti and succulents

This type of container is a hanging or tabletop structure in which the main pot with the plant is placed. In the interior it is used for decorative purposes: in terms of the beauty of decoration and painting, some products are not inferior to expensive vases. You can use the following as a pot:

  • bird cages;
  • glass vessels of different shapes (spherical, multifaceted);
  • Pots woven from wicker or felt;
  • wooden blocks with a hole for a pot;
  • hollowed-out stumps and snags;
  • ceramic figurines with cavities for flowerpots;
  • structures made of concrete and gypsum.

Collections of adult cacti in small ceramic flowerpots are placed inside flower pots, and the free space between them is filled with substrate mixed with sand. In this way, plants are protected from waterlogging, but it does not work with plastic flowerpots.

The pots do not have holes for drainage, so for growing succulents directly in the container, it is recommended to add a thicker drainage layer. If this is not done, the roots of the cacti will rot and the plants will quickly die.

Square pots and bowls

It is most convenient to plant cacti of the same type in square and rectangular flower pots. Collected in one place in the form of collections, they look compact and harmonious.

Specialized stores like Guzman’s Garden Center sell pots with trays designed for cultivating succulents. Beautiful compositions of plants that are similar in the way they are cared for can be created in ceramic and glass flat vases by lining the bottom of the container with a thick layer of expanded clay.

Choosing a pot size for active growth

Small plastic pots in which single specimens are sold do not have sufficient volume for further plant growth and are unsuitable for their cultivation. When exposed to direct sunlight, they become very hot during the day and cool quickly at night. 

This alternation of boundary conditions (hot and dry in the sun, cold at night, and also humid after watering) hurts cacti. It is not immediately obvious from a hardy plant that it is on the verge of death, and the moment for salvation may be missed.

Choose the right Pot for Cacti
Image by Milada Vigerova from Pixabay

To provide succulents with living space, it is recommended to transplant them into a container of a suitable size. It is better to do this at home, immediately after purchase. This will allow you to check the condition of the plant’s roots and, if necessary, remove rotten areas.

The area of open soil in the new pot should be such that the succulent covers no more than half of it. If you plan to grow a cactus variety that is prone to forming a large number of lateral shoots, you need the size of the pot to accommodate them.

When choosing a bowl or container to create a composition of several specimens, you should consider that plants grow over time. If you plant them at too small a distance from each other, then soon the cacti will become crowded, and if at least one of them gets sick, all the others will be at risk of infection.

The height of the container is chosen depending on the type of root system of the cactus, taking into account the fact that it should exceed the length of the root by 2-3 cm. For succulents with a long tap root, deep pots are suitable, in which the underground part of the plant will have enough space for it to feel good.

Planting in a container of insufficient height will result in the root shoots coming into contact with the walls and rotting. There are special (top edge – 5 cm, height – 7.2 cm) pots for growing such types of cacti as mediolobivia, turbinicarpus, some varieties of gymnocalycium, which, even with very miniature sizes (3-4 cm), are distinguished by a developed taproot (5 -7 cm).

For varieties with fibrous root systems, choose shallow pots of suitable diameter. Containers in which the roots have time to spread throughout the entire volume of the substrate in a short time are considered optimal for cultivating succulents.

In a pot that is too large, a small cactus may die due to excess moisture and acidification of the soil.

If there is no container of a suitable size, then the drainage layer can be made higher, and thus reduce the volume of soil.

After 2-3 years of growth in 1 pot, the succulent is replanted again, choosing a new container that is 1-2 cm larger in all respects than the previous one. However, if the plant’s growth has not stopped or it continues to bloom, the procedure for changing the pot can be done later.

Apart from selecting the appropriate pot for cacti, it is crucial to emphasize the significance of choosing the right cactus fertilizer. Feel free to refer to this guide on selecting and properly applying cactus fertilizer.

Types of Succulent Pictures.


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