Bonsai cultivation is more than just a hobby. It is a life-changing journey that involves some activities to shape the tree beautifully. It takes a long time to shape the bonsai into a beautiful tree with high value.
One of the keys to keeping a beautiful bonsai is to make sure that the tree has a healthy and good root system. It should have enough strength and power to survive in a small pot.
For this purpose, people try a different type of soil mix to see if it works best for the bonsai root. Many people also wonder if they can use cactus soil for bonsai. Well, is cactus soil good for bonsai?
Soil plays an essential role in a healthy bonsai root system. Though you can always use ready-to-use bonsai mix, trying different soil mix types is part of the experience. Well, cactus soil may seem like a viable option for growing bonsai because of the soil composition. But, before you try it out, make sure you read the following guide.
What is cactus soil made of
As the name suggests, the cactus mix is a soil mixture for growing and cultivating bonsai. Cactus soil is also known as cactus soil and is available in garden and nurseries stores. The main difference between cactus mix and other potting mixes is the composition.
Cactus mix does not have a high organic matter such as compost or peat moss. It mostly consists of inorganic materials such as sand, gravel, pumice, and perlite to mimic their natural soil.
Cactus mix does not retain moisture since it is made of inorganic material. This is beneficial to prevent the root from rotting. Surprisingly, the cactus has delicate roots which do not need much moisture. However, it does require good air circulation in the potting.
This makes cactus soil less dense to allow good aeration and keep the root healthy. The less-dense soil mix also allows faster drainage while the root still absorbs enough nutrients that they need. Imagine the soil mixture where cacti grow in the desert; it is quite similar to that kind of soil mix.
Is cactus soil safe for bonsai
Buying pre-made bonsai mix is the right option if you have a sufficient budget. But since bonsai mix is expensive, people look for the alternative to the cactus mix. But is it safe to use cactus mix for growing bonsai?
In general, the cactus mix can be used for bonsai due to its water retention ability. The cactus mix is less dense and not easily condenses or break down. Cactus soil consists of ultra-porous components and inorganic matter which is surprisingly great for growing bonsai. Plus, the cactus soil can also be used for succulents rather than only for cacti.
If you look closely, the bonsai mix appears as just the same as cactus soil. You can make the commercial-grade bonsai mix out of cactus soil with a bit of practice.
Is bonsai soil the same as cactus soil
When cultivating bonsai trees, it is important to use the right soil mixture. The soil mixture is the basic foundation to supply nutrients for the tree.
Besides nutrients, the soil mixture should also provide good aeration, properly drain, and retain enough water to support the tree’s growth. Different from other plants, bonsai should not be planted in normal organic garden soil. The normal garden soil gets dry easily which is not suitable for bonsai.
Also, the normal organic soil lacks aeration, drainage, and structure which potentially kills the bonsai and makes the root rot.
Though normal garden soil is not suitable for growing bonsai, as an alternative to the expensive bonsai mix, you can use cactus soil. In general, cactus soil has good aeration, drainage, and water retention. It has pretty much the same composition as bonsai mix which consists of inorganic, well-structured, and particle-based soil. This type of soil allows the water to easily flow into the soil.
The most common bonsai mix consists of pumice, akadama, organic potting compost, lava rock, and grit or fine gravel. Meanwhile, the cactus soil mix consists of peat moss, perlite, gravel, grit, sand, and pumice.
Both soil mixes have a similar composition which means cactus soil is pretty much the same as bonsai mix. The only difference is the amount of composition for each substance which varies according to the type of the bonsai tree.
Besides the type of the tree, the composition amount can be different depending on the location and climate. If you live in a wet climate area, you will need more grit or lava rock to improve the draining quality.
Meanwhile, if you do not have enough time to keep the tree in check, you will need to put more organic potting compost or akadama to enhance the water retention quality.
Does cactus soil work for bonsai
Surprisingly, cactus soil mix is as great as bonsai soil particularly if it is mixed well. The key to getting a good cactus soil mix is to make sure you get the mixture right. In some cases, you may also need to find a specific nutrient mix that works for the bonsai tree.
You may need to add more perlite or sand to adjust to the type of bonsai. This is because different bonsai tree requires different nutrients blends, thus you need to do some research to see what kind of nutrient mix that the bonsai needs.
Can I use cactus soil for bonsai
If store-grade bonsai soil mix is too expensive for you, then yes, you can use the cactus soil mix. Though you can use the substitution, make sure you consider the pros and cons as the following.
Pros of cactus soil for growing bonsai trees
Cactus soil is pretty much similar to bonsai mix which has low to no organic properties. This makes cactus soil has a good drainage system. Proper drainage is important to keep the bonsai root healthy and prevent it from rotting. In case the bonsai root gets too wet, it takes a long time to heal compared to another plant.
Cactus soil also remains the same for quite a long time even after several times of watering. The normal garden mix will condense after several periods of watering which makes it not good for bonsai.
Thus, you do not need to worry the bonsai will lack water or has too much water. The cactus mix consists of ultra-porous properties to provide enough space for bonsai roots to flourish and grow. Good root development is important to manage the bonsai tree.
Cons of use cactus for bonsai trees
Though cactus soil is quite the same as bonsai mix, you cannot just simply use it for any bonsai tree. This is because every bonsai tree is unique and it requires different types of soil as well.
Making the right composition of the cactus mix for growing bonsai can be tricky. You need to do lots of research to ensure that the soil mixture is right for the bonsai.
There will be several trials and errors before you find the right mix. Most people do not have the time to experiment. If this is the case, you can use the ready-to-use cactus mix from garden and nurseries stores.
Miracle-gro cactus soil for bonsai
Experimenting in finding the right amount of soil mix to grow bonsai is fun, but do you have room for that? Many people get too busy to do trial and error, so they go for the alternative store-bought cactus soil. One of the best soil mixes you can use for bonsai is the Miracle-gro cactus soil. This soil mix is specifically made for growing cactus, succulent, and bonsai.
The Miracle-gro cactus soil contains 14 nutrients and minerals which is required for growing and cultivating bonsai. Using this soil mix, you have nothing to worry about the nutrients because the soil provides enough nutrients for bonsai and cactus for six months.
The soil mix has a good draining quality and the peat provides not only good drainage but also proper moisture level. It also has sufficient pH balance to provide a bit of acid environment for bonsai and plants. The good thing is Miracle-Gro is child and pet safe.
Different from bonsai mix, this Miracle-gro cactus is pretty much affordable. It is a good value for money. This can be a good alternative if you cannot afford the expensive bonsai mix but do not have the time to make your bonsai mix.
Though the Miracle-gro is very easily effective and easy to use, it should be used for plants in containers only. You should not use it straight to the garden. The soil mix is also not suitable for in-ground plants. That is why Miracle-gro is perfect for bonsai and cactus. Also, you may need to add more perlite if you think that this soil mix holds too much water for the cactus or bonsai.