How Long Can Cactus Live Without Soil?

The quick answer is Cacti, like most succulents, can survive without it for about a week or two. But this will depend on the plant’s age, environment and access to sunlight. Younger ones will have a harder time than mature plants.

If you’re a succulent lover, you may want to arrange your cacti and succulents in an unusual way. Using things like terrariums or boxes provide a unique and stunning display of leaves, stems, and flowers.  However, this means they either have to have very little or no soil.

How Long Can Cactus Plants Survive Without Soil?

Mature Cacti can live a week or so without any soil or water. Seedlings should not have exposed roots because they can die immediately. But, since succulents are drought-resistant, a Cactus can thrive on water loss for a long time.

As a matter of fact, they do better without water. During dormancy times, they shouldn’t have much water anyway and they should only have water when it’s bone dry.

The ability of most succulents to store water makes displaying them in things like boxes, terrariums, and other unusual containers a fun project. But you want to pick plants for this with a huge storage capacity.  For example, a Prickly Pear is ideal because of how long it can go without water.

Reasons for Other Media

The Cactus has to rest on something like driftwood, sand or moss. Some kind of support or media is necessary for the plant to absorb water and be able to stay upright.

Plant Attachment for Root Systems

For soilless growing, you have to consider how the Cactus will stay up. Sandwich bag ties, posts, wire, or even a little glue are possibilities. It has to attach to something so the plant can grow into it.

Fertilizer – Water

Also, use a fertilizer about once per month to provide nutrients. It only needs to be at ¼ or ½ the strength. Without this, the Cactus and other succulents will struggle.

The support for the Cactus will determine water frequency. It’s best to mist succulents in a soilless environment. Be sure to mist onto the flowers, leaves, and stems. If you have to water directly, only pour water when the plant struggles from thirst. 

Does Cactus Need Soil?

Does Cactus Need Soil

Yes, Cacti require soil, but it doesn’t have to be nutrient-rich or moist. If they have an attachment, the plant will get plenty of oxygen while avoiding the risk of root rot when they do get water.

Anything with large particles will work for most succulents. Use any of the following as growing media:

  • Bark
  • Coconut Husks
  • Driftwood
  • Gravel
  • Peat Moss
  • Perlite
  • Sand
  • Sphagnum Moss

How Long Can a Cactus Survive in a Box?

A Cactus can spend its entire life in a box as long as there’s plenty of support and nutrients along with proper sunlight. But, without soil or an attachment, it won’t last much longer than a week or two. 

If you are planning to use a box, seriously consider what the Cactus needs. Succulents can survive almost indefinitely if their immediate environment has meticulous care. 

It’s for the Short Term

Think of this as a short-term arrangement that you won’t expect to have for long because the succulents won’t have ideal conditions. A Cactus without water isn’t nearly as worrisome as one without nutrients.

Use Cuttings

Once a Cactus outgrows a container, it needs a larger place to spread out. So, it’s best to attempt this with a cutting from succulents you’re caring for in the long term.

How Long Does It Take for a Cactus to Die?

How Long Does It Take for a Cactus to Die

Desert Cacti can live for decades if it has the right requirements, even without water.  As a matter of fact, the Saguaro Cactus is one of the most ancient living succulents on earth, with the oldest one around 300 years old. 

Without water, soil, or proper access to sunlight, a Cactus can die within a matter of days. But, if it gets plenty of sunlight in a bright location with the right amount of water, it can live for several weeks before the roots, leaves, stems, and flowers begin to struggle.


A Cactus, like all succulents, is a living thing that can survive without soil, but it’s not an ideal environment.  Older and more mature succulents can tolerate none for at least one week while seedlings and juveniles don’t stand a chance. It’s better for the plant to go without water.   

To display succulents like Cacti in an artistic way without much media, having something to support it is imperative.  It’s important to understand that this kind of project is for pure experimentation.  You cannot expect the plant to live for very long.

roses vs tulips

Roses vs Tulips

There are many positives and negatives to having both roses and tulips. They both make lovely cut flowers. However, the type of care that they need is a bit different….

What Temperature Can Tulips Survive

What Temperature Can Tulips Survive?

Generally speaking, tulips should tolerate up to 28 degrees. Ideally, tulips should be kept below 54 degrees for the best growth. Avoid planting tulips above 28 degrees because that could damage them severely.

Can Tulips Survive Snow

Can Tulips Survive Snow?

Yes, Tulips can Survive snow without a problem. Although, heavy snowfall could get too heavy on the tulips, which could crush them. However, generally speaking, snow shouldn’t be a problem for tulips.

Can You Plant Store-Bought Tulips

Can You Plant Store-Bought Tulips?

Yes, you can plant store-bought tulips but it shouldn’t be done outdoors. Make sure to plant store-bought tulips indoors for the best growth and flowering. They will not grow well if planted outdoors because tulips are not cold-hardy plants.