If you’ve decided to repot or simply change the soil mix for your Anthurium you may be tempted to change it up a bit, but can you use cactus soil for an Anthurium?
Using cactus soil for an Anthurium is something that I have considered in the past but have personally avoided. This is because cactus soil has a lower nutrient profile and doesn’t promote humidity, and although it does provide good drainage and porosity, it will not result in optimal growth.
In this article, I’ll take you through the potential benefits and my thought process for why I opt for a different soil mix than that used for cacti.
What Type Of Soil Do Anthuriums Need?
My Anthurium Andreanum has enjoyed over 4 years of solid growth, and I would attribute the soil mix as the main factor in this success (as well as my care, of course!).
Anthuriums are prone to root rot and prefer a well-draining soil mix with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. It’s super important that you provide a well-draining soil mix as this can make the difference between the plant thriving or dying prematurely.
Another essential aspect of Anthurium soil mixes is that you want to choose a combination that contains a lot of nutrients, particularly the three essential nutrients for plant growth NPK. You can always supplement with fertilizer, and should in the long term, but choosing a nutrient-dense medium will always be beneficial for the plant.
Anthuriums are epiphytes, which essentially means that they grow on other plants. In the case of Anthuriums, these are typically trees in the jungle canopy. This means that their roots are mainly aerial and prefer larger pockets of air and less dense mediums to grow on.
As a result, dense potting mediums such as garden soil or compost should be avoided or used in minimal amounts, as they can put too much pressure on the root system.
Instead, a looser substrate is more suitable that allows the roots access to oxygen. Anthurium roots can also absorb moisture from damp bark or moss and from the air itself.
Anthurium Soil Mix
So, we’ve established that the ideal ‘soil’ mix for an Anthurium probably shouldn’t contain much soil at all, and instead provide a loose substrate with lots of pockets of air that also drains water well.
A great way to provide this is to utilise an orchid soil mix. Orchid soil mixes contain various organic materials that mimic the conditions in the wild.
Around 70% of all orchids are epiphytes, which means that the majority of orchid soil mixes are well suited for Anthuriums as well. Of course, you should check the label for this before but most mixes will be fine.
This can then be mixed with equal parts of peat, pine bark and perlite to enhance the breathability and draining capacity of the mix. I opt for a layer of sphagnum moss on top of my Anthurium mix in addition to this to increase humidity as well.
The Possible Benefits Of Using Cactus Soil For Anthuriums
Cactus soil can seem like an appealing option for quite a few reasons, and to understand these it’s important to know what a typical cactus soil mixture is made from.
The soil is made up of a blend of mainly inorganic materials such as sand, gravel and sometimes pumice. There is usually little organic matter, as this tends to hold more moisture which isn’t ideal for cactus growth as they are obviously suited for low-moisture environments.
The possible benefits relating to using cactus soil for Anthuriums are quite obvious:
- Very well-draining – Cactus soil mix is designed for drainage, which suits Anthuriums quite well.
- Lots of air pockets – Due to the blend of inorganic material used cactus soil has lots of air gaps which, again, suits the root system of Anthuriums quite well.
There’s a reason why I personally stay away from using a cactus mix, however, despite how it may seem suited for Anthuriums at first glance.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Cactus Mix
The answer to this is quite simple – cactus mix doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients or humidity for optimal Anthurium growth.
The lack of organic materials such as pine bark, moss and peat inherently reduces the nutrient profile of cactus soil, which is detrimental for Anthuriums that require a good amount of nutrients to grow. Another effect of this is that cactus soil does not hold humidity well, which is not beneficial for Anthuriums either.
Most cacti have adapted to survive in harsh desert environments while Anthuriums are suited for the humid and nutrient-dense environments in places such as Columbia and Ecuador. When you consider this, it makes perfect sense that cactus soil should not be used for Anthuriums.
What Happens If You Use Cactus Soil For An Anthurium?
If you decide to use cactus soil for your Anthurium you’ll probably start to see signs of nutrient deficiency within a few weeks to a month.
This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the overall growth rate to slow down significantly.
You should also expect to see less frequent blooms, and if you don’t supplement with fertilizer the plant could start to die.
I would always avoid using cactus soil mix for an Anthurium simply because it doesn’t provide the necessary humidity or nutrient profile for them to thrive.
Although cactus soil may seem appealing due to the draining capabilities, as well as porosity, it is better to use a pre-made Anthurium mix or to make your own using the recipe I mentioned earlier in this article.