In the question big-cactus-identification-and-how-long-does-it-take b.nota gives us a nice photo of big cactus. The second thing that struck me was how the soil level is about 0.00000001 inches from the top of the pot. How you water those big boys and is the soil level deliberate so that they cannot be badly watered from the top?

  • I get the feeling that the majority of the reason for why those pots are so filled is for stability XD
    – Rob
    Aug 6, 2018 at 20:48
  • Great observation, Colin. I doubt that they did this on purpose. Most product is grown elsewhere and then retailers get to sell it. They did this to make it more 'marketable' or attractive to buyers. I really like your thought that it would be tougher to overwater. I am pretty sure that this is only for aesthetics but it also prevents overwatering while in a fancy shop. Rob's thought of stability is also great, look at all that top growth and we know the roots are shallow and frail. Colin and Rob are thinkers! We get a simple photo to cogitate to make answers and we come up with more ??
    – stormy
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:04
  • 1
    The cacti were stabilized with wooden bars in the soil, you don't see it on the picture, but visible by eye.
    – benn
    Aug 7, 2018 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, those are more for show than go. Keeping them in pots that size for any length of time would not bring a positive long-term result. If someone dropped those off at my house today I'd take the top 2 inches of soil out and put in some gravel as top dressing. Next I'd plan where to plant them in the ground in my yard. I guarantee that they didn't get this big in those pots.

  • Yeah those pots are definitely temporary containers.
    – Rob
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:15
  • Tim, why would you use gravel? The roots are within the top 2" of soil, yes? What if you live in the North somewhere? I think they were grown in pots in potting soil to grow that big. Cactus does well in limited soil. It isn't feasible to dig up anything grown in the garden soil and plunk it in a pot to sell.
    – stormy
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:34
  • Stormy, no, cactus roots are not only within the top 2" of soil. There are a few different root growth habits; fibrous, succulent and tuberous roots. Using gravel as top dressing in cactus culture is common. Top dressing helps retain moisture and makes everything look neat and clean. It also keeps wet potting media away from spines low on the plant. It also gives seeds a place to hide and germinate. When re-potting cactus last weekend I recovered well over 100 seedlings that popped up in the top dressing of my mature plants. This topic has much more to it that space prevents...
    – Tim Nevins
    Aug 7, 2018 at 19:30

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