Making Your Perfect Succulent Soil (A Detailed DIY Guide & FAQs)

Succulent soil featured image

Succulents are pretty and vibrant, but they can be picky at times. Unlike your average indoor plant, succulents are somewhat choosy with their soil, making them unique. Whether you’re an old pro to succulents or the new kid on the succulent- block, getting the preliminaries right the first time will go a long way in your juicy adventures. And nothing has more impact on growing succulents than the type of soil used.

These cute, green little alien succulents don’t get along too well with the mundane, conventional gardening soil. They think it’s overrated and boring, at least in its pure form.

Though succulents thrive with neglect, why do they demand a more thought-out soil type? Let’s find out!

If you don’t want to make your soil, we also suggest this great alternative:

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Last update on 2023-09-25 / Amazon

Make Your Own Succulent Soil
perlite and soil @whitneykshaffer

The Importance Of Succulent Soil Mix

The word succulent means a plant possessing thick, fleshy stems and leaves primarily as an adaptation to store water. In other words, succulents are desert- denizens that have recently been tamed to spice up the living room décor using minimalistic planters and their unique but beautiful looks.

You see, it barely rains in the desert. And when it does, it pours— quite literally. Succulents store this water in their leaves and stem for use in the subsequent weeks before it rains. So succulents’ roots don’t take up water all the time as they already have enough tucked away in their leaves. The type of soil found in the desert is sandy, and the hot weather helps the water drain quickly. Therefore, damp soil for succulents is dangerous as it may lead to root rot and pests, not to mention the fungal diseases accompanying wet soil.

Creating the same condition for your succulent at home or the office is critical. Making the right succulent potting mix is essential. Good soil accomplishes 3 things for a succulent:

  1. It provides nutrients, mainly in nitrogen and phosphorous (N and P).
  2. It provides anchorage. The roots need soil with substance to dig in and get a grip for stability.
  3. It absorbs and makes moisture available to the plant. Different soil types hold water for different lengths of time.

So, how do we know what type of soil for succulents?

how to make succulent soil at home
planting succulents @soymicroscopio

Make sure to follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Happy planting, and live the moment, my friend!

What Is The Best Soil For Succulents Like?

The biggest threat to succulent survival is root rot. It attacks the main channel for water and nutrient uptake of the plant leading to a weak, shriveled plant. Such a plant’s fate is almost sealed –death is inevitable.

Planting your succulents in suitable soil can’t be stressed enough. A good succulent potting mix should have the following components:

1. Well-Draining

It had to be top of the list. (If you’ve been reading our recent articles, we mention this a lot because of how important it is). Succulents and damp soil are just a disastrous combination. What is soil drainage? Simply put, it’s how fast water leaves the soil. After you water a plant, some of that water should come out of the bottom of the pot, but most of it will stay in the soil. That water has to be taken up by the plant or evaporated into the air.

You want the soil to drain quickly when making your succulent potting mix. Loose and grainy soil is the perfect substrate for growing succulents.

How do you know if the drainage is adequate?

As a rule of thumb, your succulent soil should be dry within 1 to 1.5 days of watering. And I mean dry. Bone dry.

There’s a quick way to test how dry the soil is. Stick your finger in the pot an inch or two into the ground. It should feel not only dry but also warm. If it feels “cool” at all, it’s probably slightly damp, and you’re misinterpreting the sensation. If your succulent has filled the pot, it can be hard to check soil dampness, and the mass of roots could use more room. You may need to consider repotting your succulent.

how to make succulent soil at home
time to plant! @plantoolio

2. Soil Composition

Essentially, soil comprises two things – organic matter and inorganic matter. (You could argue that everything in the universe comprises those two things).

succulent soil 3
succulent soil @bloomedroots

Organic matter, in this context, means stuff that was once alive but is now dead. It can be in various stages of decomposition or just regular death. Some examples are:

Peat or sphagnum moss
Decomposing plants or animals
Coconut coir
Leaf or bark shreds

Inorganic matter, then, is everything that was never alive. In the case of dirt, it just means minerals. Soil is mainly made of varying clay, silt, and sand ratios.

Add organic and inorganic matter together, and you’ve got soil.

The more organic matter in the soil, the more water it holds. See what I’m getting at here? More organic matter means minor drainage (and wetter soil). It follows that succulents prefer soil that has very little organic matter.

3. Good Aeration

The roots need to have some space to breathe. This will make soil and nutrient absorption easier and create a sustainable environment for beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

4. Non-Compacting and Breathable

Sticky and compact soil is terrible for succulents. The roots hate it because it retains moisture for long periods, making it difficult for the plant to breathe.

5. Excessive Nutrients

This sounds pretty weird, but it’s true. Soil containing too many nutrients, especially nitrogen, may lead to slight, brittle, and unpleasant plants. Nobody wants such kind of goofy-looking plants, do they?

Make sure to follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Happy planting, and live the moment, my friend!

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Specialized Succulent Soil

#1. Prevent The Plant From Rotting

The soil used for succulents must always differ from ordinary garden soil. Why? Unless you find the right soil type, your succulents will surely rot. The reason is that succulent soil must physically support the plants, retain some moisture and nutrients, and drain perfectly. This way will prevent excess water from making your succulents rot. This is especially true in relatively rainy areas. Choose the best soil for succulents to avert a deadly root rot.

#2. Precise Nutrients and Anchorage

Once you discover suitable soil for succulents, it’s a guarantee that the plants will receive proper nutrients and anchorage. As noted, this guards against the dangers of root rot.

Note also that, unlike most houseplants, succulents do not thrive in loamy soil. Such soil is unsuitable due to the presence of organic matter. Organic matter is typically the kind of material that lived in the past. This material usually appears in coconut coir, peat moss, and bark shreds.

Essentially, when decomposing, organic matter provides nutrients to plants. It’s also useful for its ability to retain moisture in plants. Since succulents commonly rot in the roots, they should not be exposed to wet conditions for long periods. Instead, with less moisture, succulents do better under conditions that define arid climates.

#3. Precise Soil Texture Triangle

4 Reasons Why Specialized Succulent Soil is the Best for Growing Succulents-Succulents Require a Precise Soil Texture Triangle
Soil Texture Triangle: IG@kauai_swcd

To do well, you cannot grow succulents in any soil. This is because the plant requires a particular soil texture triangle. You can do a simple test to determine the correct soil texture for growing succulents:  When planting outdoors, use sandy loam (with 50-80% fine gravel or coarse sand). Potted plants require coarse grit materials (the diameter should be 1/8 to ¼). This guarantees rapid drainage and prevents rot.

Succulent Soil Mix DIY – Easy Tutorials To Follow Anywhere, Anytime

1. What To Prepare:

  • Gardening gloves to protect yourself from anything sharp (just in case)
  • Measuring cup to make things easier
  • A trowel – just a fancy name for a small shovel 🙂
  • A bucket, pail, or plastic bin
  • Common gardening soil
  • Perlite or Pumice
  • Coarse sand

2. How To Make Succulent Soil Step-by-step

Making your succulent mix at home or the office is fun. You can decide just how grainy you want it to be (if you care about the aesthetics). It’s much cheaper than the regular commercial cacti mix sold in stores. And did I mention that the procedure is so accessible?

A plethora of recipes for making succulent soil abound. However, we’ll stick with the basic procedure that is super effective and works wonders every time for this guide!

2.1. The Ratio To Create Quality Potting Soil For Succulents

The best mixing ratio of the three elements is two parts sand, two parts gardening soil, and one-part perlite or pumice. Translating this into cups makes it 3 cups of sand, 3 cups of soil, and 1.5 cups of perlite or pumice.

The purpose of pumice or perlite is to aid in aeration and drainage. Pumice is particularly useful in holding together nutrients and moisture. Either can be used or, better yet, combining the two ingredients to end up with a rich potting mix.

On the other hand, sand makes the potting mix less compact and increases drainage. As for gardening, soil’s primary role is to provide nutrients for the succulents.

succulent soil 1
time to make your own @lowkey_plantobsessed

2.2. Let’s Make The Best Soil For Succulents

Put on your gardening gloves, and let’s get to work!

Start by slightly moistening the garden soil to prevent dust from entering the bucket or mixing container. Next, put in the sand and mix thoroughly. Doing this using hands is more effective. Lastly, scoop in the perlite or pumice. Please give it a good stir until the mixture is uniform.

Good job! You just made your very first succulent soil! I told you it was that easy. It’s just a matter of knowing what ingredients to include in your succulent soil to allow your succulent to grow the best it can.

You can use this soil for potting, repotting, and storing it for future use.

If you ever find yourself where you don’t feel like mixing your own, there are lovely premixed soils you can always get.

Tip: A neat trick before potting the succulents is to avoid moisturizing the soil.

You can begin watering as usual once the soil dries out completely.

succulent soil
perfect mix @vividroot

Make sure to follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Happy planting, and live the moment, my friend!

My Choices For Commercial Succulent Soils

If you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty and mixing your soil, there are a couple of great succulent and cacti mixes that are commercially available. Here are the two types that I have personal experience using for a few plant pots and see good reviews online:

1. Harris Premium Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil Mix is incredible. Harris is an experienced man alone, never mentioning his family business. You can easily see how well-balanced the mixture is. They have excellent drainage. You can’t go wrong using this mix.

Harris Premium Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil Mix, Fast…
  • Balanced Blend – Professional quality mix of…
  • Excellent Drainage – Fast draining formula…
  • Versatile – Use indoors or outdoors on a variety…
  • See the Difference – Ready to use, pH balanced…
  • Easy Zip Bag – Packaged in a 4 quart resealable…

Last update on 2023-09-24 / Amazon

2. 3 Dry Quart Organic Potting Soil, Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix by The Succulent Cult, on the other hand, is an established, solid-standing product. I was first attracted to this one by its numerous good reviews. I think it’s a good deal that they sell what they already stated.

3 Dry Quart Organic Potting Soil, Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix,…
  • PERFECT FOR PROPAGATION: Propagating succulents…
  • PRE-MIXED and READY TO USE SOIL MIX: Pre-mixed and…

Last update on 2023-09-24 / Amazon

FAQs About Succulent Soil

1. I am a beginner. Is there succulent soil for beginners?

No 🙂 This recipe is easy enough for everyone to follow. Leave a comment if you have any difficulties during the process.

2. Can I use regular potting soil for succulents? Do succulents need special soil?

Yes, you can. Regular potting soil is the same as succulent soil if you forget to water it regularly. The recipe is above in case you want to make your succulent soil.

3. Do succulents like acidic soil?

Yes, slightly acidic (5.5-6.5) is acceptable.

4. Can I use succulent soil for other plants?

Yes, but remember to water it regularly.

We have compacted 27+ commonly-asked questions about succulent in 1 single article. You can visit the page here and feel free to contribute any question that you have 🙂 Happy planting!

Did you know?

Final Words

Was making succulent soil as complicated as you thought it was? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear your thoughts. For some more tips on succulent care, check out this article here!

Suppose there are some tips and tricks you want to share with our succulent friends. In that case, you should let us know in the Succulent Plant Lounge — our exclusive Facebook group filled with a community of succulent lovers that chime in on each other’s posts, answering popular questions about succulents and giving their insights about tips and tricks for succulent care!

Have fun and happy planting!?

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Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

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21 thoughts on “Making Your Perfect Succulent Soil (A Detailed DIY Guide & FAQs)

    1. Using garden soil or sand is not the best idea because it may contain pathogens which could harm your plants. Use a professional Cactus and Succulent mix from a hardware or garden supply store. You would have to sterilize and amend any cactus mix which you made directly from the sand in your yard. You have probably figured this all out by now, but keep it in mind for future reference.

  1. Is it necessary to have sand in your soil? Can you use just perlite and or pea moss if other ingredients are not available.

  2. Thanks for the recipe! My soil will be the gardening soil mix (50% soil, 50% compost) leftover from installing raised beds. My sand is something I bought (rather than use what’s in sandbox) and of course I also purchased the perlite.

  3. I’ve read some where years ago ,that potted plants should be removed from their pots and the succulent soil replaced with a new batch of succulent soil every couple of years . Is this correct ??

    Some of my pots are about a metre tall . What would be the best soil to put in the bottom of the pot before I start to use my succulent mix.?

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