Exotic, attractive and largely kill-proof, is it any surprise that cacti are popular houseplants?
As a result, you’ll face no shortage of options when it comes to fun and functional cactus planters.
But just because there are so many planters to choose from, does that mean they’re all equally good? Before you spring for that adorable set of cactus planters, it’s worthwhile to spend some time researching the options.
Let us help!
To inspire your shopping trip, we’ve compiled detailed reviews of our top five choices for the best pots for cactus plants.
We’ll also take a look at what you can expect to find in planter materials, sizes and shapes. Finally, we’ll cover several questions that can help you pick the best cactus planter for your needs.
OAMCEG Succulent Plant Pots
These 4-inch ceramic pots are perfect for housing small cacti and new baby plants just starting their life. With their hexagon geometric shape and simple white color, this set of six pots fits right in with almost any room decor.
Each pot has a pre-drilled hole to encourage soil drainage. A bamboo trap catches any drip or overflow before it has a chance to leak on your windowsill or counter.
But while the trays are awesome for preventing leaks, they can become discolored from water exposure over time. So you may want to wipe them dry after watering.
If you need an even smaller pot, these planters are also available in a 2.75-inch size option.
MyGift Sunburst Ceramic Planter
This set of two ceramic planters does a great job of adding a little brightness to your cactus garden.
Choose between aqua (picutured), yellow, white or black glossy finishes. If you prefer a metallic option, you can pick brass or rose gold. The repeating sunburst pattern adds another element of visual interest.
These pots have a pre-made hole at the bottom to allow for water drainage. As an added bonus, the attached drip saucers guard against water seeping out of your planter.
As a planter material, ceramic has a reputation for fantastic natural airflow and drainage.
However, these pots have a finishing glaze on both the inside and the outside, so you’ll have to pay a little more attention to your watering habits.
At 4.72 inches across at the rim, these planters are a great option when your cactus has outgrown a 4-inch pot.
Mkono Concrete Plant Pots
This set of three concrete cactus planters offer exceptional stability, strength and eye-catching geometric embellishments.
Concrete is unique in that it’s both strong and porous, so it’s a great choice for keeping your cacti safe and promoting good soil drainage.
The heavy material helps prevent your cacti from tipping over, and three rubber feet provide an extra layer of stability.
In the 4-inch size, these planters can accommodate medium-sized domestic cacti. Standing 4 3/8 tall, the Mkono pots are a bit on the taller side. Although this feature is great if your cactus has a taproot, varieties with shallow lateral root systems may struggle.
If you’re starting seedlings or growing a smaller variety, these pots also come in a 3-inch size.
Kenzoplants Plastic Indoor Planters
These simple pots from Kenzoplants offer the look of ceramic with the convenience of plastic.
Equally at home on your windowsill or in a macrame hanger, these pots have a versatile design that works with various home decor themes.
These pots come in a set of five, and you can choose the multi-colored (pictured), white or dark gray color options.
At 6 inches across, these pots can easily house larger cacti varieties or a couple of smaller ones at once. The pots are also 5 inches deep, so taproots have the space they need to grow.
The bottom drainage hole does not come pre-made. Fortunately, Kenzoplants designed the bottom for easy puncturing with a drill or screwdriver, so it’s not hard to add your own drainage.
Yishang Terra Cotta Shallow Planters
With its earthy, sandy orange color, there’s nothing quite like terra cotta for mimicking the look of your cacti growing in their native desert home.
This pot measures 7 inches from rim to rim and stands 3.5 inches tall.
Thanks to the wide, shallow design, you can create beautiful custom arrangements with multiple small cacti. Or if your cactus is has a large lateral root system, this planter offers plenty of room to grow.
Being naturally porous, you can’t beat terra cotta’s airflow and moisture-wicking to keep your cactus dry and happy. A large drainage hole also helps keep soil comfortable, but you will need to supply your own drip saucer.
Besides the option featured here, Yishang offers terra cotta planters in various sizes and heights.
What Should I Look For In a Cactus Planter?
Besides a design that fits your taste and budget, what’s really important when it comes to choosing a cactus planter?
The key factors for creating a comfy home for your cactus come down to two basic elements: sufficient drainage and proper size.
1. Adequate Drainage
As a native plant to the hot, dry desert climate, excessive moisture is a cactus’s #1 enemy.
On the other hand, your cactus still needs water to live. So how can you make sure you hit the right moisture balance?
Let your cactus planter help!
Design features like pre-made drainage holes and certain material types can help you keep your cactus comfortable.
Here’s a look at the details:
Drainage holes. Any type of plant can suffer if they get too much water, so plant containers in general usually come with pre-made drainage holes.
But does that cactus planter you have your eye on lack pre-made holes? Not to worry!
Although drainage holes help prevent overwatering, they’re not absolutely necessary. Developing the habit of checking soil moisture and watering sparingly will have a bigger impact on your cactus’s health.
Also, with some materials, like plastic or metal, you may be able to add your own drainage holes using a 3/8-inch drill bit and a little patience.
Material type. As you’ll read a little later on, cactus planters come in a variety of materials.
Some of these planter materials have a porous surface that allows water and air to pass through.
Why is that a good thing? Because cacti thrive in dry soil conditions, and porous materials give excess water an emergency escape route.
Besides letting moisture out, a porous material will also let air in and mimic native desert conditions.
Unglazed terra cotta and ceramic offer excellent breathability. It may come as a surprise, but concrete is also a porous material (although not to the extent of terra cotta or ceramic.)
However, a nonporous material doesn’t have to be a total deal-breaker. As we mentioned above, proper watering habits are more critical than the actual container.
2. Container Size
Do you really need to pay close attention to the size of your cactus planter? Wouldn’t it be better to buy a larger container that your cactus can use for a long time?
Actually, placing your cactus in an appropriately sized container is a critical factor for keeping your plant healthy and happy.
Let’s find out:
Why Is Container Size Important?
A container that’s too large could cause the roots to spread at a faster rate than the leaves can grow. Additionally, it’s all too easy to unknowingly add too much water to a large container.
On the other hand, a pot that’s too small could constrict root growth and weaken your cactus.
A cactus planter that extends roughly a 1/2 inch to 1 inch from your plant’s main stem should be about right.
Cactus Root Systems
When it comes to container depth, use your cactus’s root system as your guide. Cactus root systems come in two main types: a taproot and lateral roots.
Taproot. A taproot is a long, single root that extends down from the plant body. Cacti that grow tall often have a taproot.
The taproot has two main jobs:
- Provide stability for the cactus
- Reach the deeper levels of groundwater
If your cactus species has a taproot, a container with a tall shape ensures enough room for growth. To prevent tipping, a planter made from a heavier material may be a wise choice.
Lateral Roots. These small roots form a dense network that spreads outward in all directions away from the main plant body but doesn’t extend deeply down into the soil.
This root system anchors shorter cactus species in the ground, and the tiny root tips spread out in search of water and nutrients.
Shallow, wide pots are ideal for cacti that have a lateral root system.
Round planters can provide both plenty of space for roots to reach out as well as a stable base.
What are Cactus Planters Made From?
Material might seem like a secondary consideration when you’re choosing pots for cactus gardens. After all, it’s easy to look at shape, design or color first.
But material can have a significant impact on your cactus’s health.
Most cactus planters are made from one of nine material types:
- Terra cotta
Here are the details on the various material types as well as the pros and cons of each one:
1. Terra Cotta
We’ve all seen the rows of orange-brown terra cotta pots at the nursery or big box stores. They’re essentially a garden-department fixture!
Belonging to the category of earthenware, terra cotta pots are made from molded and fired clay. One of the most common uses for terra cotta is garden planters.
Although you’ll see unglazed terra cotta most often, you can also find terra cotta pots with decorative finishes in various colors and designs.
Benefits of Terra Cotta
- Naturally porous material allows for airflow
- Less risk of overwatering since the planter will absorb some moisture
- Heavy for its size, so it’s less likely to tip over
- The coloring naturally mimics a desert landscape
- Widely available in a range of sizes
- Very inexpensive
Drawbacks of Terra Cotta
- Fragile material that is prone to chips, cracks and shattering
- Roots have a tendency to grow into the sides of clay pots
This is probably the most common cactus planter material you’ll encounter. Ceramic is widely available online and in stores, and you might also find some made by local artisans.
Suffice it say: Regardless of your color, size or shape preferences, you’re likely to find a ceramic planter you like.
Just like terra cotta, ceramic pots are shaped and fired earthenware. Also, both materials offer about the same degree of temperature control and weight.
When unglazed, ceramic offers roughly the same amount of breathability as terra cotta.
However, decorative finishes and glazes are far more common in ceramic planters. Although they’re beautiful, glazes and finishes seal water in and keep air out.
Benefits of Ceramic
- Available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and price points
- Porous surface of unglazed ceramic offers built-in moisture absorption and airflow
Drawbacks of Ceramic
- Can chip, crack or break
- Most ceramic planters have a finishing glaze that reduces air and moisture permeability
Even though naturally porous materials are best for growing cacti, plastic can be a good second choice.
Available in almost limitless color options, plastic might be your first choice of you’re looking for a planter that’s bold and bright.
Do you need to move your cactus to different areas of the house from season to season? Plastic to the rescue! Since it’s so lightweight, you can move even larger cacti with ease.
And you don’t need to worry about chipped edges if your elbow accidentally knocks your plastic cactus planter over!
Benefits of Plastic
- Lightweight material is ideal for moving
- Won’t chip, crack or shatter if bumped
- Available in a range of colors
Drawbacks of Plastic
- No airflow or drainage through planter walls
- Lightweight material may tip or blow over easily
Wooden cactus planters might be your first inclination if you’re going for an earthy look. No doubt about it, wood has a natural appeal!
Although they don’t rival terra cotta or unglazed ceramic, wooden cactus planters do provide a bit of natural drainage and airflow.
Benefits of Wood
- Natural beauty in various shades and grain patterns
- Slightly porous material provides some air and moisture permeability
Drawbacks of Wood
- Can show wear and tear from the outdoor elements at a faster rate than other materials
- Prone to water damage over time
Glass containers have a clean, modern look that adds extra visual interest. The transparent sides are perfect for showcasing layers of gravel and soil.
If your goal is a terrarium planting, glass cactus planters are your ideal medium.
Unfortunately, glass has a non-porous surface that doesn’t allow any airflow to cactus roots.
Also, glass containers often lack pre-made drainage holes. You could try adding your own, but you’ll need to use a specialized glass drill bit.
Benefits of Glass
- Provides a sleek, contemporary look
- Perfect for showcasing a terrarium grouping or layers of rock
Drawbacks of Glass
- Most glass containers do not come with pre-made drainage holes.
- Very fragile
Seemingly a heavy-duty but lightweight choice, metal cactus planters can unfortunately present a few concerns.
When repeatedly exposed to water, a metal cactus planter will eventually rust. Over time, the rust makes its way into the soil, where it can alter pH levels or raise the iron concentration. This could impact the health of your plant.
Another downside is the fact that metal is an excellent heat conductor, meaning that is provides no insulation to your cactus’s delicate roots.
Typically, cacti do not respond well to sudden soil temperature changes. Unfortunately, your cactus will quickly feel any fluctuation in the ambient temperature if you use a metal container.
Benefits of Metal
- Can have a cool, industrial look or a traditional farmhouse design
- Light construction is easy to move
Drawbacks of Metal
- Rusting can lead to changes in soil pH and mineral levels
- Sudden temperature changes due to metal’s efficient heat conduction
- Nonporous material offers no natural aeration
There’s nothing quite like a stone planter to make it seem like your cactus is growing right in its natural, rocky desert habitat!
What’s more, stone definitely puts stability and strength on your side. No chips or cracks here!
But keep in mind that all that solid material comes at a cost: Stone cactus planters are heavy. When they start getting into the large sizes, they can be difficult to move.
Benefits of Stone
- No worries about breakage or tipping over
- Material drawn directly from nature
Drawbacks of Stone
- Very heavy, especially in larger sizes
- Poor drainage and airflow
Make of thin, woven glass filaments, fiberglass cactus planters are both strong and lightweight, so they’re great for indoor or outdoor use.
Most fiberglass planters come in solid colors and tend to have sleek, angular shapes. If you’re a fan of modern or minimalist designs, fiberglass may be just your style!
But be aware that most fiberglass cactus planters are fairly large. So if you only have a small cactus to plant, you may have to look elsewhere.
Benefits of Fiberglass
- Lightweight and strong
- Sleek shapes fit right in with minimalist decor
Drawbacks of Fiberglass
- Nonporous material offers no drainage or aeration
- May be hard to find in small sizes
Concrete may not seem like a natural choice when it comes to cactus planters, but this material has plenty of benefits to offer.
It seems surprising, but concrete is actually fairly porous and promotes natural drainage and airflow. Yay!
Strong and resistant to breakage, concrete is equally at home indoors or out.
NOTE: During the fabrication process, manufacturers add lime to the concrete mixture. This lime can then make its way into your planter’s soil when you water your cactus.
High levels of lime can increase the soil’s alkalinity, and your cactus could suffer from stunted growth or leaf discoloration.
The good news is that there are ways to decrease soil alkalinity. So while lime accumulation is a good thing to be aware of, it doesn’t need to be a dealbreaker if you’ve got your eye on a concrete cactus planter.
Benefits of Concrete
- Strong and durable
- Resists tipping over
- Ideal for indoor or outdoor use
- Porous surface with natural airflow and drainage
- Moderates soil temperature
Drawbacks of Concrete
- Leaches lime into soil
Can I Make Any Cactus Planter Work?
Does the cactus pot you have your heart set on have a few less-than-ideal qualities?
Don’t write it off too soon!
Instead, use these simple strategies to make any planter a happy cactus home.
Use two separate containers. Pot your cactus in a plain, appropriately sized terra cotta, plastic or unglazed ceramic pot.
Then place the small pot in the larger container of your choice.
Water on a strictly as-needed schedule. The most common problem you might encounter is inadequate water drainage and airflow.
The can potentially lead to root rot, which you can see in this photo:
However, as long as you faithfully check soil moisture levels and water sparingly, you can keep your cactus healthy and thriving in any container.
Keeping your cacti or succulents at a comfortable soil moisture level can be a bit of a finicky business. Check out our guide to how often to water succulents to learn more!
Considerations For Choosing The Best Cactus Planter
How large is your cactus, and where do you plan to have your cactus garden? Will you move your planters from time to time?
Asking questions like these before shopping can help narrow down your search and avoid ending up with a planter that you can’t use.
Do You Plan to Move Your Cactus to Different Locations?
Do you want the flexibility to move your cacti to different areas of the house when the rearranging mood strikes?
Or maybe you live in a seasonal climate where your cactus will thrive in one window for part of the year and another the remaining months.
Either way, a lightweight container is ideal if you think you’re likely to move your cactus. Pots made from plastic or fiberglass are typically the lightest and therefore easiest to move.
Also, both of these materials are strong enough to withstand a move without the risk of breaking.
Will Your Cactus be Indoors or Outdoors?
Whether your cactus will live primarily indoors or outdoors influences container material.
The indoor environment tends to be much more controlled, both in temperature and activity level.
Delicate cactus planters may not fare well outside, where they’re more susceptible to bad weather or curious animals. Glass is a prime example.
If you’re planning to have an outdoor cactus garden, consider using a heavier container to better protect your plants. Concrete, stone and wood can all make excellent choices.
Like we mentioned briefly earlier, cacti typically don’t appreciate sudden fluctuations in soil temperature. So take extra care when choosing a container for your outdoor cactus garden.
Materials like terra cotta, ceramic and plastic are all helpful for maintaining a stable temperature.
Will You Place Your Cactus on a Flat Surface or in a Hanging Container?
Although most cactus planters have a flat bottom intended for a flat surface, some have a hanging design.
These hanging planters are a great choice if your cactus is a draping variety, like the rat tail cactus in this photo:
A hanging planter may also be a fun idea if you just want an unusual display!
Are You Repotting Your Cactus Into a Larger Container?
Repotting succulents of any kind is a necessary task as the plant grows.
It’s tempting to repot your cactus in a significantly larger container that you can use for a longer time. However, cacti usually do best in containers that are roughly equal to the size of their current root system.
So move up just one planter size at a time. For instance, if your cactus is currently in a 3-inch planter, repot in a 4-inch one, and so on.
Cacti come in various shapes, sizes and root systems, so no container is a one-size-fits-all option. Use these factors as a guide to choosing the best cactus planter for your needs.
- Your cactus’s current size
- The type of root system
- Planter material that fits the time you have to invest in monitoring soil moisture and plant health
- The surrounding environmental characteristics
- Whether you’ll need to be able to move your cactus garden
Of course, color, shape and style are all important, too. After all, the cactus planter you choose should make both you and your cactus happy!
Now it’s your turn! Do you have any other suggestions for cactus planters, or any cactus care tips you’d like to share? Are there any questions you still have?
Let us know in the comments!