Cacti are the perfect adorable addition to any garden.
Depending on where you live, they’re suitable for both indoor and outdoor growth, and they’re some of the easiest keepers you can find.
You can find a relatively cheap cactus at almost any home and garden center–you might even stumble upon one in your local CVS!
Cacti are not quite as simple as “water once a year and call it good” however. Fertilizing your cactus will help it grow healthy and strong, and even flower.
All fertilizers are not created equal, however, and when it comes to fertilizing your beloved cactus, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Why you should consider fertilizing your cactus
- How to choose the right fertilizer for your cactus, whether it’s indoor or outdoor
- How fertilizer will promote healthy growth for your cactus
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of my favorite fertilizers for cactus. Keep scrolling to learn more of my top tips to choose and use the best fertilizer for your cactus.
Cute Farms Succulent, Cacti, and Aloe Fertilizer
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EarthPods Premium Cactus&Succulent Plant Food
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Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food
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Succulent Fertilizer Liquid Plant Food
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Succulent Fertilizer by Perfect Plants
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My Overall Top #1 Pick: Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer
All of these fertilizers are amazing for your cactus, but the Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer (say that three times fast) is my favorite. Why? Well, you’re about to find out!
Firstly, it’s organic. I love using organic fertilizers because they’re all-natural, which means no processing in a lab or added chemicals. Even though I don’t plan on eating my cactus anytime soon, organic is still healthier for the plant and the environment.
There are a whopping 18 strains of healthy bacteria in this fertilizer designed specifically to strengthen your cactus. These bacteria strains form a symbiotic relationship with your plant’s roots, meaning they work together to be healthy and strong. Sounds like a win-win if you ask me!
If you’re curious about symbiotic bacteria mixing with your plants, I highly recommend this informative article. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of healthy bacteria for your plant without totally confusing you.
This fertilizer is also super easy to use. It comes in a compact little vial, and all you have to do is dilute 1 teaspoon per half-gallon of water. If you don’t need a whole half-gallon, even better–it’ll last you even longer.
Of course, the results of this fertilizer are amazing, too! Within just a few days you’ll start to see a difference. Cacti that never flowered before will grow beautiful buds right before your eyes, and previously drooping plants will stand right at attention. All it takes is a little bit of fertilizer and your plant will look picture-perfect.
Quite frankly, there’s nothing bad I can say about this product. The organic bacteria strains promote healthy growth in all parts of your cactus–root, stem, and flower. It’s also good for the environment, being all-natural, and the tiny vial means less plastic in landfills when you’re done with it.
So if you’re looking for an easy and safe fertilizer for your beloved cactus, look no further than the Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer!
Top 5 Best Fertilizers For Cactus
In a hurry? Check out our top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these wonderful fertilizers for your cactus.
- Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer (My Top Pick)
- EarthPods Premium Cactus & Succulent Plant Food (Best High-End Pick)
- Succulent Fertilizer by Perfect Plants (Best Budget Pick)
- Cute Farms Succulent, Cacti, Aloe Fertilizer (Best Pick For Young Cacti)
- Schultz Cactus Plus 2-7-7 Liquid Plant Food (Easiest To Apply)
Why Should You Invest In A High-Quality Cactus Fertilizer?
Cacti are thought to be the number one easy-keeper for beginner gardeners, and while that’s true, they’re also remarkably easy to kill if you aren’t careful.
Buying a specific fertilizer for your cactus (or their cousins, succulents, who also require special fertilizer), can help to prevent a lot of the problems I’m about to list. Cacti are fairly delicate despite their thorny exteriors, especially because they’re not exactly designed to live indoors or in humid climates. A high-quality fertilizer can help to make your cactus feel more at home and prevent some of the most common problems.
Overwatering is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with having a cactus. As a beginner plant parent, it’s an easy mistake to make. I know I drowned my fair share of cacti before I got the hang of their schedule.
Cacti also need a fair amount of sun–after all, they are from the desert. A south-facing window should do the trick but cacti can burn if the sun is too bright and hot (think mid-July). Watch out for brown spots; if you notice any, take your cactus off the windowsill for a bit.
If you’d like to know more about maintaining a happy and healthy potted cactus, this informational video is for you. It has a bunch of extra tips and tricks for proper potting and soil composition, too:
I know I just made it seem like cacti are a pain in the behind, but truly they’re adorable little plants that can brighten up a space with minimal upkeep. I have a teeny-tiny one sitting on my desk that never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially in the summer when it starts to bloom.
For what seemed like forever, I struggled with getting my cacti to bud. They would try and try, and I would be their number-one cheerleader, but then the bud would shrivel up and die no matter what I did.
Finally one day, the lightbulb went off in my brain. What about fertilizer? So I ran over to my local Home Depot and picked up a generic fertilizer and said a prayer or two. Like magic, I had the most beautiful flowering cactus that summer!
My cactus has only gotten happier since I invested in a high-quality fertilizer. Every summer it blooms beautifully, then goes dormant in the winter. I lay off the fertilizer in the off-season and use it regularly in the summer and it hasn’t failed me yet (let’s hope I didn’t just jinx myself!).
You can, of course, get an okay-quality fertilizer, but there’s risk involved. Burning your plant is a common problem associated with low-quality fertilizers. Your cactus will turn slightly brown or yellow and look generally unhappy. Using high-quality fertilizer can prevent this.
Low-quality fertilizer can also mold and destroy your plant. Nobody wants that for their cactus, especially not one that you’ve had around for a while (crazy how they kind of become our friends, right?). White mold is the most common type of mold that can afflict your plants–it’s a huge pain to remove, and it usually comes back no matter how hard you try. Who wants to deal with that?
Speaking from experience, a fertilizer formulated specifically for your cactus will give you the happiest, brightest, and most beautiful results. Using high-quality fertilizer can prevent the above problems from ever happening. For more information about encouraging your cactus to put its best stem forward, check out this article about how to keep your cactus happy all year long. Why settle for an okay cactus when you can have an amazing one?
How to Pick the Best Fertilizer For Your Cactus?
The composition of your fertilizer is vital in maintaining a happy cactus. Since we’re talking about potted cacti, you want to make sure the fertilizer is not too potent. Every fertilizer product should have a series of numbers on it like so: 10-10-10.
The first number represents the amount of nitrogen in the product, the second represents the amount of phosphorus, and the third represents potassium. When the numbers are really high, like this: 25-25-25, that could harm your cactus. A 5-10-5 ratio is perfect for your cactus, but don’t worry about deviating from that a bit! Cacti are hardy plants and as long as the numbers are all low, it’ll be fine.
If you’re curious about what other nutrients can benefit your cactus, check out this article detailing exactly what your cactus needs.
Organic Versus Inorganic
The organic-versus-inorganic debate is seemingly timeless among gardeners. In my experience, organic is almost always better when you’re dealing with edible or outdoor plants.
Organic fertilizers are free from pesticides or artificial elements that you don’t want to ingest. “Organic” means exactly what you think: all-natural. It doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat with a spoon or anything, but it is safe to apply to plants that you eat. When it comes to outdoor plants, it’s less likely to crust upon the top of the soil and prevent your plants from getting the nutrients, and also less likely to burn in the hot summer sun.
Inorganic fertilizers typically have pesticides or some kind of additive in them, usually to keep away bugs or other critters that could harm your plant. There’s nothing wrong with using inorganic fertilizer, although it is more likely to burn your plant or crust upon the soil. They’re also more likely to hurt a delicate plant, so if your cactus has a dramatic personality, maybe steer away from inorganic products.
All that being said, I’ve found that it doesn’t make much of a difference in regards to an indoor cactus. Organic is great, and I’ll always go for that option when it makes sense, but organic fertilizers indeed tend to be more expensive (unless you make your own organic fertilizer from scraps from your kitchen table). Since your cactus is indoors and you aren’t eating it (I think?) it doesn’t matter too much.
In general, cacti are hardy plants, so you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference between using an organic versus inorganic fertilizer.
Slow Versus Quick Release
When it comes to cacti, a little goes a long way. They aren’t high-maintenance and don’t require a lot of water. That being said, slow-release fertilizer is best for them, especially if it’s water-soluble.
Quick-release fertilizers are not my favorite to begin with, but when it comes to cacti, definitely steer clear. The overdose of nutrients could kill your plant and at the very least will harm it.
Using slow-release fertilizer will ensure that your cactus gets all the nutrients it needs safely and healthily. Even better if it’s water-soluble, since your cactus only needs water once a week at most in the summer, and even less in the winter (that being said, fertilizing in the winter isn’t necessary).
I recommend a slow-release fertilizer in whatever form you prefer, fertilizer sticks or water-soluble solution. Both are great for your cactus as long as they give off nutrients gently and for a long time!
My Reviews of the Best Fertilizers For Cacti
1. Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer (My Top Pick)
This plant food fertilizer is at the top of my list for a reason!
The slow-release formula is designed specifically for all indoor plants, including your cactus.
It’s organic, which means it’s better for the environment, and also contains 18 strains of beneficial bacteria curated to promote healthy roots. And the NPK ratio of 3-0.2-2 is nice and gentle, making this suitable for cacti of all ages.
The small bottle means it’s easy to store in your indoor garden and it’s not an eyesore. It’s also liquid, not pellets, so it’s easy to dilute in water–just add 1 tsp for every half-gallon of water.
The only downside is that it is water-soluble and if you’re only fertilizing a few plants, you have to do the math and cut down how much fertilizer you need to dilute. It’s pretty simple, however, so not a big deal!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
+ Produces quick results
+ Easy to store inside
+ Beneficial bacteria for healthy roots
+ Slow-release formula won’t kill your plant
|– Need to do math if diluting a smaller amount|
– One bottle only makes 7 gallons; not economical for outdoor cacti
2. EarthPods Premium Cactus & Succulent Plant Food (Best High-End Pick)
This product is my high-end pick, but in my opinion, it’s worth the money. One container can last a single plant for six years!
The formula is designed specifically for your cactus and is slow-releasing to prevent burning. The nutrient content of 0.2.-0.2-0.4 is very gentle, but there are tons of other good nutrients in this product to promote overall plant health.
It’s mess-free as well–all you have to do is stick one capsule in your cactus’s pot and then water, and let it work its magic. This product is pet-and-kid friendly, organic, and made sustainably in the U.S.
The only downside is that because they’re capsules, you can’t dilute the strength, but that shouldn’t be a problem since the NPK ratio is so gentle. Expect beautiful blooms and stronger plants soon!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
+ Environmentally friendly
+ Safe for pets and kits
+ Long-term investment
+ Mess-free application
|– Can’t tailor the amount to your plant’s specific needs|
– Nutrient content is extremely gentle
3. Succulent Fertilizer by Perfect Plants (Best Budget Pick)
This budget-friendly pick is perfect for a smaller cactus garden, or even one single plant.
The 13-11-11 ratio will keep your cactus happy without overdoing it, and you only need to use it every 6 months thanks to the slow-releasing formula.
One package can sustain a singular cactus for 5 years!
All you have to do is sprinkle a small amount over the soil and then water, and let the fertilizer do the rest.
The biggest downside is that this product is not pet or kid-safe, and can make your furry friends quite ill if they ingest enough. Just keep out of reach of pets or little ones and you’ll be just fine!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Convenient–only use once every 6 months|
+ Great ratio of nutrients
+ Well-suited for mature cacti
+ Easy to use
|– Not safe for pets or kids|
– Nutrient content can be too strong, especially for a young cactus
4. Cute Farms Succulent, Cacti, Aloe Fertilizer (Best Pick For Young Cacti)
This fertilizer might be one of the easiest to use on my list, and it’s also the best suited for young cacti.
All you have to do is add a pump or two near the base of your plant once a month and voila! Beautiful blooms and a happy cactus just like that.
Each bottle can sustain a cactus for up to a full year, making this product definitely with the money. The nutrient content of 0.5-1-1 is extremely gentle, making this my favorite product for a young cactus.
While the EarthPods Premiums Cactus & Succulent Plant Food also has a very gentle nutrient composition, I prefer this product for young cacti because it’s easier to tailor the amount to your cactus’s specific needs. If you notice very little growth, it’s easier to add more; if your cactus is unhappy, then you can add less or abstain from using it for a month or two.
You’ll see results almost instantly even with the slow-release formula. The only negative thing I have to say is that getting up-close-and-personal with a larger cactus can prove tricky, so be careful when using this product.
You have to put it very close to the base of your cactus and larger plants can have quite the thorns! This product is perfect for smaller plants, however, or ones that have an easy-to-reach base.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Slow-release formula|
+ Gentle mixture of nutrients–won’t burn your plant
+ Easy to apply on small cacti
+ Well-suited for young cacti
+ Can perk up even the saddest plant
|– Application can be tricky on a larger plant|
– The pump can get stuck and won’t work properly unless cleaned after every use
5. Schultz Cactus Plus 2-7-7 Liquid Plant Food (Easiest To Apply)
This liquid plant food is also super budget-friendly, but won’t last you as long as the Succulent Fertilizer By Perfect Plants, which is why I won’t consider it our best budget-friendly choice.
It is, however, the easiest product to apply to your cactus. All you have to do is use the dropper and add 7 drops per quart of water every time you water. The included dropper is extra convenient and means you don’t have to measure out a tea-or-tablespoon.
The 2-7-7 formula is gentle enough that it won’t hurt your cactus, and like I said, all the tools you need to use this fertilizer are included.
It feeds through the roots and is great for all cacti. Some people do say that the 2-7-7 ratio isn’t strong enough, so keep that in mind!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ The dropper is included for easy use|
+ Easy to apply
+ Gentle nutrient ratio, but still effective
+ Quick results without burning your plant
|– The ratio of nutrients can be too gentle|
– Might have to do a little math when applying
My Top Pick: Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer
In my humble opinion, it can’t get better than the Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food Fertilizer! The formula is perfect for your precious cactus and it’s safe for pets and kids. No need to worry about the cat or your little ones getting a hold of it.
The small, compact vial makes storage a breeze, and you can keep it right next to your cactus without it becoming an eyesore. The whopping 18 strains of healthy bacteria promote strong root growth to keep your cactus happy and healthy all year long.
Since it’s a liquid, it dissolves easily into water for easy application, and a little goes a long way. It’s worth every penny and it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong with this awesome product. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a safe and all-natural fertilizer to keep their cacti happy!
Final Thoughts On The Best Fertilizers For Cactus
As I said before, cacti are easy keepers. They like nice strong sunlight, a little bit of water, and to pretty much be left alone. But fertilizing your cactus can elevate it from an okay plant to a beautiful one virtually overnight!
I prefer a liquid fertilizer for my cacti since mixing a granular fertilizer into the soil can be a bit tricky with the thorns. If you feel pulled towards one of these granular products, however, I suggest making liquid fertilizer from it. It’s super simple and, in my opinion, easier.
Any of these fertilizers will benefit your cactus immensely, and I highly recommend all of them. So get out there, grab yourself a cute little cactus and some fertilizer and enjoy your beautiful, blossoming plant.