Can I Use Cactus Fertilizer for Other Plants?

So you’ve got leftover cactus fertilizer after having fed your succulents and are wondering, “Can I use cactus fertilizer for other plants?”

Yes, you can use cactus fertilizer on other plants. This is mostly because the average tropical houseplant has similar nutrient requirements as most succulents. Feeding other plants with cactus fertilizer will give them all the nutrients they need, especially if they’re growing.

This makes sense when you study the ingredient list on cactus fertilizer. They are very similar to regular fertilizers, with a few differences in micronutrient allocation and ratios. For example, most cactus fertilizers tend to have a smaller quantity of nitrogen.

The Ratio of NPK

All plant fertilizers prominently feature an important variable known as the NPK ratio. This ratio is the percentage by volume of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A 2-2-2 fertilizer, for example, contains 2% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus, and 2% potassium.

Most cactus fertilizers feature a ratio that is higher in phosphorus compared to nitrogen. Typical examples include 5-10-5, 5-7-5, and other similar combinations.

Phosphorus, in particular, is a vital nutrient that plays an important role in ATP, the energy unit of plants. All ATP units have phosphorus in their structure and processes from the seedling through to formation and maturity. Phosphorus is useful for the general health and vigor of all cacti in California.

Cacti use all these elements to grow properly. You can feed them in two stages: stage one is to add granulated fertilizer or powder to their soil when potting the succulent. Stage two is to add liquid or solid fertilizer during the growing months.

How to Safely Use Cactus Fertilizer with Other Plants?

Although you can use cactus fertilizer with other plants, you should be careful not to apply excessive amounts because they can lead to a harmful phenomenon known as ‘fertilizer burn.’

The main symptoms of fertilizer burns include the formation of brown or yellow spots on the foliage of plants. Fertilizer burn can also show up as crunchy, burnt leaves. In worse cases, it can also lead to damaged roots that can devastate the plants.

You may be able to fix fertilizer burn by flushing the excessive nutrients with water. It is important to water the plants once you notice any signs of fertilizer burn to minimize the damage. Slowly soak the affected plants with water every day for about one week to properly expel the fertilizers.

Types of Cactus Fertilizers that You Can Use

Ideal Cacti Fertilizers for Other PlantsDetails
Chemical FertilizersUse water-soluble chemical fertilizers for the best results.
Manure TeaThe manure of livestock that you can purchase from most gardening stores.
CompostContains all the necessary nutrients, including trace elements, for healthy plant growth.
EggshellsContains a high quantity of calcium
Worm castingsA natural fertilizer that provides all the nutrients to your plants.
Epsom saltsA combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.

Here are a few tips for applying cactus fertilizer on other plants to prevent fertilizer burn and encourage growth.

Chemical Fertilizer

Chemical fertilizers are notorious for causing burn damage to other plants if you apply too much volume. It is recommended to use a chemical fertilizer that contains a balanced amount of nutrients (with a slightly higher ratio of phosphorus) and is also soluble in water.

Prepare the fertilizer by following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Most chemical fertilizers must be diluted to half strength (or even less, depending on the product).

Water your plants with the diluted fertilizer. Make sure to water the soil to help flush any excess fertilizer to prevent fertilizer burn. You should, under no circumstances, fertilize the leaves directly because they may get scorched in the process.

Additionally, you should only apply chemical fertilizers in the growing season, especially when you anticipate blooming. Most tropical plants enter a growing season in the summer months, making it the perfect time for a fertilizer application. These same plants become dormant in winter and should not be fertilized.

Organic Alternatives to Chemical Cactus Fertilizers

Consider using natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers such as manure tea and compost. These alternatives are particularly useful if you’re worried about burning your plants. But compost and manure tea can give your plants all the nutrients they need without risking burning them.

Organic alternatives to fertilizers are a great way of encouraging growth in your plants.

Here’s how you can prepare natural cactus fertilizers for other plants:

  • Place a tea bag in a five-gallon bucket to make compost tea or manure
  • Pour about 1 to 5 gallons of water into the bucket to dilute the fertilizer
  • Place a lid on the bucket and allow the solution to sit outside for a few days
  • Once the organic fertilizer has done steeping, remove the tea bag and use the contents to water the plants
  • You may use this fertilizer once a month when the plant enters its growing season

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are a great choice of fertilized, especially if you want to encourage blooms of flowering and green shrubs. They are made from hydrated magnesium sulfate (a combination of sulfur and magnesium), which is extremely important for plant growth.


It is worth mentioning that carnivorous plants like sundews, Venus flytraps, and pitcher plants do not like Epsom salts. This is because these plants have adapted to mineral and depleted soils, and supplementing them with such fertilizers could lead to their death.

For regular plants, such as evergreens, Epsom salt can do wonders for their foliage and helps with flowering. It can also help the plants grow bushier with thicker foliage.

Worm Castings

Worm castings are a natural fertilizer that is often used to feed cacti. You can use them with regular plants to encourage growth. Worm castings are prepared earthwork excrement, often known as worm poop or worm poo. Because these creatures feed on compost, their excrement enriches plants’ soil.

Most plants, including cacti in California and succulents, love to feed on worm castings. The best part is that worm castings act like a slow-release fertilizer and break down gradually.

Most growers don’t like using worm castings because they leave a mess indoors. But you can use manure tea – also known as vermicompost tea – because they are much easier to apply. You can use vermicompost tea on indoor and outdoor plants, especially during the growing season. Spraying them on the surface of the soil is enough to promote growth.

Eggshells for Plants and Cacti

You can also use eggshells to enhance the growth of your cacti and plants. Eggshells add calcium, an essential micronutrient, to plants such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. The extra calcium is a great way of preventing blossom-end rot.

You can prepare eggshell tea by tossing about ten to thirty clean and dry eggshells in about one gallon of water. Let the shells sit in the water for about one night, and strain them out. Now pour two cups of the tea on each plant.

Old Lady Cactus, Old-Lady Pincushion, Mammillaria hahniana

Wrapping Up – Can I Use Cactus Fertilizer for Other Plants?

Most cactus fertilizers meant for succulents can be safely used with other plants. Just make sure only to use them in the growing months to prevent fertilizer burn. It is advised to dilute the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let us know if you use cactus fertilizer with other plants and their results!

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