Can I Use Cactus soil for Orchids? 

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 8 min.
Affiliate Disclaimer

The Walled Nursery Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post at no extra cost to you. Thank You for your support

Orchid lovers understand that this household plant is a relatively low-maintenance flower but requires certain conditions to thrive. One of those conditions is a certain type of soil.  

Can I use cactus soil for orchids? While it may be tempting to use cactus soil for your orchids, it is a bad idea. The two soils have some of the same ingredients but the differences are too vast for the two soils to be interchangeable for orchids.  

This article tells you the differences between soils for cacti and orchards and how you can help your orchids thrive.  

Why Cactus Soil Can’t Be Used for Orchids 

The two main ingredients in cactus soil are potting soil and coarse sand. This combination allows the soil to dry quickly for cacti growth.  

Orchids need something different because they will thrive when their roots are allowed to expand. Orchids in moderate climates grow in the soil while most others grow on rocks or trees.  

Those wild orchids growing on trees and rocks make up 73 percent of all orchids. Knowing that orchids don’t require true soil, a mix should be created of things that wild orchids would require.  

A good soil mix for orchids would be a combination of tree bark, moss, charcoal, coconut peat blended into the potting mix. However, you may need to choose ingredients that are available in your area.

What Are Things You Can Use For Orchid Soil? 

Things that can be used for orchid soil are organic materials that you would find in wooded areas. 

Everything is based on where an orchid would naturally grow. Most grow in moderate to warm, tropical climates so you need to simulate that with your soil mix.  

The mix you create can include things like tree fern, peat moss, coconut husk chips, perlite, sphagnum moss, sphagnum peat, and diatomite.

Why Is This Type of Combination Important? 

Orchids growing on trees and rocks have plenty of room for their roots to expand. This type of soil allows for the same thing. You will likely need to re-pot the plant several times as its roots continue to grow.  

This type of mix also allows for proper drainage and aeration. Commercial brands of orchid mix exist and can be found in most hardware stores. They include things like charcoal, pine bark, sponge rock, and coconut chips.

What’s The Right Ratio of Ingredients? 

Most experts say the majority of your orchid soil, around 65 percent, should be vine material. Sphagnum should make up 15 percent and charcoal should be another 10 percent. The final 10 percent should be pumice or perlite stone.  

Can  I Create My Own Potting Soil for Orchids? 

Those who can follow instructions can create excellent potting soil for orchids. The instructions are simple.  

You will need a container and a cup to measure the mixtures. Put in the ratios of 6.5 parts vine growth; 1.5 parts sphagnum; 1 part each of charcoal and pumice. Mix the ingredients and plant your orchid. 

Do I Need to Do Something Different in Winter? 

Orchids do require some different care during winter. You must provide moisture while keeping the soil breathable. The root system of an orchid needs air too.  

You can use the same soil mix. Keeping the balance can be a little tricky but most gardeners suggest allowing the soil to become a little dry before watering.  

What About Soil For Summer Blooming? 

The soil for orchids in the summer should be moist but take care not to overwater it. The topsoil should be dry but underneath should be moist when you water it.  

You can use a summer soil mix to keep your orchid moist and not dry out. The summer mix includes half pine bark, a quarter of sphagnum, 15 percent pumice, 10 percent charcoal, and 1/2 cup of peat moss.

Do Different Types of Orchids Need Different Soils? 

Different types of orchids can thrive best in soil created specifically for them. Paphiopedilum orchids require more pine bark and pumice while Phragmipedium orchids need fir bark, Canadian peat, and stalite.  

Jewel Phals orchids need half of their mix to be peat moss and 40 percent to be pumice or perlite with only 10 percent charcoal.

Ground orchids need half of the mix to be potting soil, and other things like vermicompost, charcoal, and cocopeat added.


Can I use cactus soil for other plants? 

Yes, the soil used for cacti can be used for other plants but it depends on the plant. Soil that is best for cacti is created to be well-draining and provide good aeration.  

A good rule of thumb is to look at where your plant grows naturally. If the area includes sand and dry soil, a quality cactus soil mix would work well. 

What is the difference between potting soil and cactus soil? 

Potting soil is designed to soak up and retain moisture. It contains organic materials that hold water.

Cactus soil is manufactured to dry up quickly to prevent root rot. This type of soil consists mostly of inorganic materials. 

What are some tips for caring for potted orchids? 

The main thing is to remember is not to water them too often. Over-watering can lead to root rot. Put your orchid in a sunny windowsill facing either the east or the west so it gets direct sun. Feed it weekly with a good orchid fertilizer and repost it in the fresh orchid mix after your orchid blooms.

Are there secrets to growing orchids well? 

Orchids have a reputation for being hard to grow and get to bloom but they aren’t difficult to grow if you know what they need. Orchids need strong light but do better with early morning light than late-afternoon light.  

These plants also have roots that need airflow and high humidity. They also need to dry out some and then get heavy watering. Remember, they are tropical plants and are used to periods of dryness with heavy rains.  

Orchids love moderate climates, so temperatures need to be kept between 50 and 85 degrees. 

Would orchids grow well in a bathroom? 

A bathroom could be a good place for your orchid to grow since there is a good bit of humidity, probably warm air from hot showers, and decent airflow from fans and vents.  

The one concern about putting an orchid in a bathroom is sunlight. Orchids need direct sun and most bathrooms don’t have large, sunny windows.  

You can place your potted orchid in a bathroom if your bathroom has a window that offers direct sunlight. It should do well there. 

Does the type of soil help an orchid bloom more? 

The type of soil you use doesn’t necessarily provoke your orchid to bloom more but it will keep your orchid healthier. A healthy orchid will bloom better than a sick one. 

Final Thoughts 

While you can’t use cactus soil for orchids, you can create a mix that is perfect for the type of orchid you are trying to grow.  

Those who don’t want to spend time searching for mixed materials and doing it as a DIY project can buy quality orchid soil at gardening centers.

There are many affordable choices and any of those will help your orchids do well as an indoor plant.