I am aware that cacti and succulents in general are unpretentious plants but some of us might still need to look for the best cactus fertilizer.
Before diving into my recommendations, there’s one question to get out of the way: do all cacti need fertilizer in order to thrive?
Of course not. Potted cactus can survive without any fertilizer and bloom beautifully. The same goes for aloe vera, snake plants and other succulents.
When we consider that cacti are plants that survive and thrive in the blazing desert sun by storing water in the stem, the only conclusion we can draw is that these succulents are some of the most resilient on the planet.
Their fortitude and their prickly beauty is what makes cacti so beloved around the globe. They’re also the perfect plants if you’re looking for the best succulent gift boxes.
Table of Contents
Best Cactus Fertilizer: Top 6 Recommendations
When we love our cacti, we want them to have the best active growth period, we want them to bloom, to be completely healthy and colorful. That’s what leads us to searching for the best cactus fertilizer.
Just like some of us might also be looking for the best grow lights for cactus because they’re lovers of light.
Plus, the awesome part is that picking and using a good fertilizer on these prickly wonders is very easy.
However, I also want to remind you that the potted soil in which they’re grown matters, too. Use a cactus soil if you want to get the best soil for your succulents. Or make your own by mixing potting soil with pumice/vermiculite and small pebbles.
Getting back to our cacti fertilizer quest, if you don’t want to read a bunch of reviews, you should know that even using an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer can work.
Thus, if you buy a 20-20-20 all purpose plant food for a wide variety of plants, then you can safely and successfully use that one on your cacti, too.
Moreover, a fertilizer that’s higher in phosphorus than nitrogen is another wonderful choice. If you come across a 5-10-5 solution, you should immediately assume that it will work for your succulents.
That’s because phosphorus helps plants form new roots, make seeds, fruit and flowers. In our case, we’re focused on having beautiful flowers. That is also the case if we’re looking for the best fertilizer for magnolia tree.
1. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food – Best Fertilizer for all Plants
Even when I wrote about the best fertilizer for crotons, I recommended this Miracle-Gro plant food.
That should tell you just how universal this fertilizer is. It’s truly all purpose and that means that it will work wonderfully as the best fertilizer for cactus.
For those who grow many different plants, this Miracle-Gro can be truly wonderful because you don’t have to search and buy different fertilizers for all of them.
Thus, if you want to fertilize many different plants with the same product and without breaking the bank, I would say that the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food is a top choice.
It can be used for houseplants, vegetables, trees, shrubs and flowers.
The manufacturer recommends using this water soluble plant food once every 1-2 weeks.
However, succulents don’t require such frequently occurring feedings.
You can do a feeding in the early spring, then again in the summer and once in the fall to prepare the cacti for the harsher conditions that cold weather brings. This is the usual growing season for cacti and succulents.
There are exceptions to this feeding schedule. For example, a Christmas cactus will be active during the winter. That means that you’ll fertilize it starting in July or early fall.
2. Leaves and Soul Succulent Fertilizer Pellets – Best Slow Release Cactus Fertilizer
This is a fertilizer created specifically for succulents. These pellets will work for all cactus and succulents, which is exactly what we’re looking for if we want a more targeted best cactus fertilizer.
However, you should keep in mind that an all purpose water-soluble plant food can work just as well if you have a variety of different plants to feed, trees and vegetables included.
The Leaves and Soul Succulent Fertilizer Pellets is a slow release fertilizer. It will act over time.
In fact, it has a 6 month timed release.
That’s really amazing for those who don’t want to bother with multiple feedings when watering their succulents.
You can add the pellets at the beginning of the active growing season and throughout 180 days they will dissolve slowly to ensure the cacti with all the nutrients they need.
Thus, we only need one application, usually in the spring, unless the growing season for your variety states that it takes place during the winter.
For example, someone who has used this for their Christmas cactus added the pellets in July. After that, they water every 2 weeks with 1 cup of water. That gave them abundant blooms, which is what we’re looking for.
It also works for orchids and bromeliads.
Moreover, it’s great for both seedlings and mature plants.
It’s a 13-11-11 fertilizer.
3. Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food – One of the Best Cactus Fertilizers
Another fertilizer that targets cacti is this one from Schultz. It’s absolutely amazing and it comes with so many positive reviews from users that it’s hard to ignore.
Well, I can’t ignore it and it’s certainly a top recommendation for the best cactus fertilizer. It will also work for other succulents, too.
What many people love about the Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food is that it’s easy to use.
We just need to add 7 drops per quart of water. There’s an easy-to-use measure dropper included for this exact operation.
It’s a 2-7-7 cactus liquid plant food.
It will dissolve completely and instantly feed succulents through the roots.
If you have a succulent that isn’t doing well, I highly recommend trying out the Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food because it’s fast acting.
You can actually add 7 drops per quart of water whenever you’re watering during the active growing season. But you can also add it less often, it’s really up to you.
The important thing is that those who have used it mention that they saw positive changes in 24 hours. That’s really incredible and that’s why this Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food is absolutely one of my favorites for cacti and succulents.
4. Espoma Organic Cactus Plant Food – The Best Organic Cactus Fertilizer
When it comes to providing your cacti and succulents with some of the best soil and fertilizer that money can buy, Espoma is the brand that comes to mind.
This is a well-known manufacturer among passionate plant growers, especially for lovers of cacti and succulents.
We absolutely cannot talk about the best cactus fertilizer or amazing cactus potting soil without mentioning Espoma.
The other amazing thing is that this one is an organic plant food. I’m sure that there are plenty of you who love the organic aspect.
It’s absolutely easy to use. We just mix it with water and then we water our plants.
It feeds the roots instantly and the positive effects will become noticeable over the next few days.
Easy to use
The directions are some of the easiest to follow.
After you shake the bottle well, you just need to add ½ cap (2 teaspoons) per quart of water.
Repeat the process every 2-4 weeks or even less often if you feel that your plants are doing amazing.
It’s organic and it’s derived from all the best things: hydrolyzed poultry manure, bone meal, potassium sulfate, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed fish protein and kelp extract.
It will work for both large and small succulents.
However, I should warn you that some people mention that it’s smelly. It’s also a bit pricey but I’m not even surprised anymore when anything organic is a bit more pricey.
5. Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer
By recommending this one as the best cactus fertilizer, I wanted to also answer one question: can you use fish emulsion to fertilize succulents?
Absolutely. A fish emulsion fertilizer is a good choice for making succulents grow healthy.
A fish emulsion is a fast-acting, organic liquid fertilizer. If you want organic and fast-acting for your plants not only for succulents, a fish fertilizer can do wonders.
It’s made from byproducts of the fishing industry. It can be made from whole fish or parts of fish. Thus, the smell factor.
It can be smelly so some people definitely don’t like that.
When it comes to smell, I would say that the Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer is one of the mildest you’ll find.
Others will also consider that it doesn’t do that much for plants since it has a low NPK ratio, which can be 2-4-1 or 4-1-1.
I’m not in agreement with that at all. I think that a fish emulsion can have amazing positive benefits on lawns, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, etc.
There are people who have only used fish emulsion for both their indoor and outdoor plants with great success, foregoing any use of chemical fertilizers.
Good NPK ratio
I love that Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer is a 2-4-1, the focus being on a higher concentration of phosphorus for our blooms. In my opinion, this NPK ratio is really good.
According to the instructions that come with Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer, for flowers we should use 1 oz (⅛ cup) per gallon of water. We can feed every 1-2 weeks or a lot less often for our cacti.
This time, we should do a foliar feed until the leaves are wet top and bottom. In order to do a foliar feed more easily, we should use a spray bottle.
If that sounds like just too much work for you, check out my above recommendations, which are applied directly to the soil.
6. EarthPods Premium Bio Organic Cactus & Succulent Plant Food
This one is definitely not the cheapest fertilizer you could buy.
The good news is that it contains 100 EarthPods so it seems that we get a big quantity for the price.
It’s advertised as being for indoor plants.
It also mentions that it stimulates robust root growth, stem development and color vibrancy for all live cacti, succulents and other arid or desert plants.
The easy thing about using EarthPods is that we push 1 EarthPod into the potting soil near the center of the plant. And that’s it, we’re done.
Medium plants will need 2-4 EarthPods, while large plants will benefit from 4-8 capsules.
If we grow in bark or pebble substrate, we need to open the capsule, spread its content and then water.
As you might have gathered, this is a slow release fertilizer that directs those nutrients directly to the root zone.
It contains a variety of organic plant nutrients, trace minerals, soil life and humates.
We are advised to use one EarthPod once every 14-21 days. If you don’t have a lot of pots, then those 100 EarthPods will last a considerable amount of time.
If you read all the positive reviews for the EarthPods Premium Bio Organic Cactus & Succulent Plant Food, you will be quickly tempted to give this one a try.
Are coffee grounds good for succulents?
Plenty of people are using coffee grounds for their plants so I’m pretty sure that some of you might consider using them for succulents and cacti, as well.
I will admit that I personally don’t use coffee grounds because I’m always concerned that they’re too acidic so I don’t want to mess anything up. I’m sticking to compost, manure and other fertilizers that we can buy.
Coffee grounds are used for plants because they’ll add nitrogen to the soil. They can also help aerate the soil, improving drainage. Moreover, it’s also considered that they can keep pests away.
First of all, if you consider it, I recommend using used coffee grounds because they are only slightly less acidic, while the unbrewed ones have more acid.
Secondly, a bit of brewed coffee grounds can work for cacti because, usually, succulents prefer a slightly acidic soil.
However, I don’t believe that we can replace the need for fertilizer entirely by just using coffee grounds.
When should I start fertilizing my cactus?
Succulents in general are fertilized during their active growing season.
For cacti that usually means spring to early fall.
For some people it will be a lot easier to tell when they should be fertilizing their cactus by knowing that it’s’ great to do it when the cactus is blooming. That’s very easy to spot and you won’t have to look at your calendar or have any doubts about when the most convenient time would be.
Why do I say that it’s easier to fertilize when the cactus starts blooming? Because some people might not know when the active growing season occurs for their plants.
For example, if you’re growing a Christmas cactus, it will actually bloom from early winter to mid-winter. Thus, in the case of this gorgeous exception, the active growing season is during the winter and not in spring to early fall.
If you fertilize your indoor cacti once a year, that’s more than enough.
If you fertilize it at least once during their active growing season (in general, spring to early fall but there are exceptions), that’s awesome. That means that you should fertilize at least once when your cactus blooms.
You can fertilize just once or you can follow the instructions that are written on the packaging of the fertilizer. It depends from person to person. I would say that both options offer impressive results.
Should you fertilize cactus when blooming?
That’s actually the best time for feeding them.
Fertilizing when the cactus is in bloom means that the blooms will be much larger and they will last much, much longer.
Everything about your plant will be a joy of color and vibrancy.
And that’s why some of us love using the best cactus fertilizer on our beautiful prickly succulents.
Besides feeding succulents when blooming, we can add a bit more fertilizer in the fall. That will protect them during harsh winters.
How many times should you use a cactus fertilizer?
You can actually do three feedings:
- once in the spring
- once in the summer
- and once in the fall
This applies for cacti that have their active growing season from spring to fall.
That’s the best you can do. 2-3 feedings per year are really amazing and it will work if you love attending to your plants frequently.
The minimum but still good enough is feeding your cactus once when it’s blooming.
For those who want bigger flowers that last longer, one feeding per year when they’re in bloom is awesome.
However, you should also remember that cacti are plants that absolutely love and need sunlight for healthy growth.
Thus, ensuring that they get enough light, whether indoors or outdoors, is a lot more important than using the best cactus fertilizer.
If you live in colder areas with shorter days, you should give a thought to using a grow light for your succulents. A bulb LED grow light that is quite cheap can be good enough for a few small pots.
Also, use the appropriate soil for cacti and succulents. There are potting soils created specifically for these spiky wonders. Only after the right soil and light conditions have been properly met should you focus on buying the best cactus fertilizer.