By Nikky F. Necessario

Proper soil mix is the cactus’ life. It is where it gets its nutrients, and it is its home. That is why it is important to know how to make a healthy soil mix for your cacti. A healthy home makes healthy cacti.

Mark Buizon of Masitera, a shop that sells cactus and succulents, shared some tips on how to make healthy soil mixes for your cacti at the 4th Annual Cactus Fiesta Fair.

Buizon said that there aren’t really perfect soil mixes, but the most practical and healthy formula to follow is the 70:30 soil mix ratio: 70% inorganic materials mixed with 30% organic materials. Inorganic materials such as pumice, lava rocks, perlite, hydro stones, and pebbles, hold less water and drain easily. On the other hand, organic materials such as soil, coco peat, compost, and rice hull can absorb too much water but can also be the cacti’s source of nutrients.

The 70:30 mix ratio balances the water capacity and the nutrient source of the cacti. The right amount of inorganic materials will provide the succulents with proper water drainage, which would prevent them from being overwatered—a common cause of wilting. It is also important to provide an adequate amount of organic material as nutrient to keep your cacti healthy.

The CNS expert said that it is possible to have a 100% inorganic soil mix as long as the plant gets watered very often and it doesn’t get too much sunlight, especially in the afternoon. A 100% inorganic soil mix can also withstand heavy rains because inorganic materials drain easily. On the other hand, a 100% organic soil mix is also possible as long as it doesn’t get watered too much and is exposed to more sunlight. Soil heavily absorbs water, which might result in overwatering. As per Buizon, the soil in Benguet Province is one of the most nutritious soils in the Philippines.

He also said that fertilization once every six months is important, as well as providing little amounts of fungicide and pesticide to the soil, especially if you have organic mixes, because these are more prone to pest infestation, particularly if plants are not inside a greenhouse. Repotting is also vital to your succulent plants because their roots outgrow their vessels eventually, he added.

Just like human beings, plants need proper care. They don’t just need to be watered, but also need to be provided with nutrients in the right soil mix, as well as the occasional booster and protection from pests with the use of pesticides and fungicides. The occasional personal touch from its owner might actually help them grow profusely as well.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2019 issue.