How to Make an Indoor Cactus Garden with Video

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Cacti are amazing plants!

They are able to survive in hot, sunny desert environments that receive very little rainfall.

These qualities also make them great houseplants!

I have been to Arizona multiple times and I never tire of the desert’s beauty.

The different shapes, textures and colors create an awe-inspiring landscape.

These simple steps will guide you to make a cactus garden and bring a taste of the Southwest to your home or office.

Various Cacti in Pots on gray metal table surrounded by light brown chairs

Step One- Select a Pot

Pots are available in a myriad of colors, designs and styles.

For this project, I recommend selecting a shallow container.

Cacti roots don’t grow as deep as traditional houseplants, so a deep pot isn’t necessary.

Also, shallow pots have less soil so there is less opportunity for excess moisture to linger.

Similarly, select a container that has drain holes. One of the critical aspects of cacti care is proper soil drainage.

If you find a pot you love that doesn’t have holes, consider drilling several.

Cereus Cacti in white and blue pots on white table

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Step Two- Cacti Soil

Cacti need a special potting mix that is designed to drain quickly. These mixes are readily available online and at garden centers.

I don’t recommend using a traditional houseplant soil mix for cacti. It won’t drain quickly enough to sustain the cactus’ health.

Before adding the potting mix to the pot, place a piece of tight mesh screen over the drain holes.

An old piece of window screen works well.

This prevents soil from falling out. A coffee filter works as well.

If the pot doesn’t have holes and you don’t feel comfortable drilling, I recommend placing a small amount of horticultural charcoal in the bottom of the container.

I usually add less than the recommended rate as overwatering isn’t an issue for me.

This will keep the soil “sweet” by eliminating bacteria, fungus and odors that may develop from overwatering.

Add the potting mix directly on top of the charcoal. Fill the pot approximately half full.

You are ready to plant!

Various Cacti in Pots on dark gray metal table with light brown chair in front

Step Three- Designing Your Cactus Garden

There are many ways to design a cacti garden. Ultimately, arrange the plants in a way that is pleasing to you!

My preference is to place taller, cylindrical varieties toward the back of the pot and plant shorter, wider cacti towards the front.

Another option is to place taller cacti in the middle of the pot and surround it with shorter varieties.

Before planting, I arrange the cacti so that I know approximately where each one will be planted.

I can always make changes once I start planting, but it helps make the process smoother.

Cacti are slow-growing, so they can be planted closely together to create a full look.

If your garden will have accessories such as large rocks, driftwood or figurines, be sure to consider their placement as well.

An Indoor Cactus Dish Garden against white shiplap backround

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Step Four- Planting the Cacti

The biggest challenge when creating an indoor cactus garden is removing the spiny plants from their pots.

There are several ways to make this painless.

First, there are specialized gardening gloves that will prevent spines from piercing your skin. Leather gloves will work as well.

I have also seen horticulturists wrap duct tape around the fingers and palms of ordinary garden gloves to create “cacti gloves.”

Be sure to wear appropriate protection on your hands when handling cacti.

To make it easier to remove the cactus, gently squeeze each side of its grow pot. This will help release the cactus roots.

Kitchen tongs are a great tool to use to pull the cactus out of the grow pot.

Once the cactus is out, gently loosen the root ball to encourage growth in the new pot. Don’t hesitate to remove some of the soil around the root ball to loosen the roots.

Place in the new container and add potting mix to secure it in place.

Continue adding cacti to create your garden.

There are great miniature gardening tools that can help you add soil and firm the plants in place.

Plastic spoons, forks and knives work just as well!

A small craft-sized paintbrush is useful for removing any soil on the spines.

Step Five- Decoration

I like to add a topdressing of small rocks to make the garden look finished. There are many colors and shapes available specifically sold for plants.

However, aquarium stones and decorative sand are great options.

This is an opportunity to show your style and be creative!

The topdressing also has a functional component as it will help stabilize the cacti in place.

Add any decorative pieces to complete the garden.


Cacti have an incredible ability to survive extreme heat and drought with unique beauty.

They make great houseplants and will bring a bit of style to your home or office.

I hope you will try adding a cactus garden to your home’s décor!

See the video below of the cactus garden I made!

For cactus watering tips, click here!

Cactus Garden Supplies

Cacti Plants– various varieties

The Plants I used:

Photo of Cacti in dark gray pot against white shiplap background

Shallow Containers

Horticultural Charcoal

Cacti/Succulent Potting Mix

Mesh to Cover Drain Holes

Garden Gloves

Kitchen tongs


Accent Rocks



Miniature Gardening Tools

Pinterest pin Photo of a cactus dish garden with text overlay: How to make an indoor cactus garden

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