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!

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. You see, it barely rains in the desert. And when it does, it pours— quite literally. Succulents store this water in their leaves and stems for use in the subsequent weeks before it rains. So succulents’ roots don’t always take up water as they already have enough tucked away in their leaves. The soil type 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 succulent-preferred pests, not to mention the fungal diseases accompanying wet soil.

Household Items You Can Use as Succulent Planters
Succulent soil is super important. Getting it wrong makes your succulent suffer.

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. Provides nutrients: Mainly Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P).
  2. Provides anchorage: The roots need soil with substance to dig in and get a grip for stability.
  3. Absorbs adequate moisture available to the plant: Different soil types hold water for different lengths. Succulent soil prefers to drain water fast but retains just enough for the plant to drink.

Follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Join the discussions at our Facebook Group, “Succulent City Plant Lounge.” Happy planting, and live the moment!

What Is The Best Soil For Succulents Like?

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 my recent articles, I 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. Therefore, 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.

Richard Miller – Succulent City

It should feel not only dry but also warm. If it feels “cool”, it’s probably slightly damp, and you’re misinterpreting the sensation. If your succulent has filled the pot and the mass of roots uses up all the room, it can be hard to check soil dampness. You may need another pot and, therefore, consider repotting your succulent.

2. The Right Composition

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

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. On the other hand, inorganic matter is everything that was never alive. Some examples are:

Organic matter:
- Compost
- Peat or sphagnum moss
- Manure
- Decomposing plants or animals
- Coconut coir
- Leaf or bark shreds
Inorganic matter:
- Sand
- Silt
- Clay

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). Succulent soil will prefer this equation: inorganic matter > organic matter.

3. Good Aeration

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

4. Poor Nutrients

Yeah, it’s true 🙂

This sounds pretty weird, but it’s true. Soil containing too many nutrients, especially nitrogen, may lead to brittle and unpleasant plants. Nobody wants such kind of goofy-looking plants, do they? Getting the soil mix right will naturally satisfy the succulent soil texture triangle, which I will show you below.

Have you ever heard of the succulent soil texture triangle? It will look exactly like the next image. Here is a simple soil texture for growing succulents: The sandy loam texture (the slightly pink part, with 50-80% fine gravel or coarse sand). Potted plants will also need coarse grit materials (the average diameter should be 1/8 to ¼). This guarantees rapid drainage and prevents rot.

Here you go! Everything you need to know about a perfect succulent soil mix. Do you know that succulent soil mix can be easily made at home?

soil texture triangle featured image

My Amazing Succulent Soil Mix Recipe – A Really Simple DIY Guide

Let’s get our hands dirty by mixing a good soil combination for our beloved succulents.

1. What To Prepare:

  • 1 pair of gardening gloves to protect yourself from anything sharp (just in case)
  • 1 measuring cup to make things easier
  • 1 trowel – just a fancy name for a small shovel 🙂
  • 1 pot/ container: See how to choose a suitable one here.
  • 1 bucket/pail/plastic bin to contain potting soil – Must be larger than the pot to contain enough potting soil for the execution no matter what.
  • 1 large mixing tray
  • Gardening soil: Regular gardening soil contains the right balance of organic and inorganic matter. You can see a few suggestions here. If you want to make it from scratch, the ratio is 1:1:1 for organic matter, inorganic matter, and nutrients. For example: 1 part Coir + 1 part Perlite + 1 part Compost. Nearly fill your bucket with it, then never worry about getting short of potting soil.
  • 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.
  • Coarse sand: As my chosen grit material, it makes the potting mix less compact and increases drainage. Choose the type with a diameter ranging from 0.5 mm – 1 mm. You can also choose other grit materials you want.
Household Items You Can Use as Succulent Planters
Let’s get started!

2. Steps On Making DIY Succulent Potting Soil

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 (which I will also give some recommendations later). 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!

Time needed: 1 hour

I set the default time for this tutorial as 1 hour (not including the preparation time where you have to get things in different ways), but it will depend on how much soil you want to mix. Time will be different whether you are mixing for 10 plants or just 1 plant. 1 hour is the maximum number this procedure will possibly take. If it takes more time, decide to still work on it, or you can buy and wait for the soil to be shipped to your front door.

  1. Get ready!

    Make sure you have your gloves on and all the tools nearby. A trowel, a pot, a bucket full of potting soil, and a large mixing tray are all within your reach.

  2. Get the right ratio for a succulent soil mix.

    The best mixing ratio of the three elements is 2 parts coarse sand, 2 parts potting soil, and one part perlite or pumice. Translating this into cups (or any of your preferred measuring units) makes it 2 cups of sand, 2 cups of soil, and 1 cup of perlite or pumice.

  3. Start mixing.

    After getting the ratio right, moisten the potting soil slightly to prevent dust from entering the mixing tray. Next, put the sand in. 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. Remember, you do not have to mix them all simultaneously if you want a large volume. Consider breaking them into smaller mixes if needed.

  4. Done. Get the potting mix in the pot for your plants!

    Good job! You just made your very first succulent soil! I told you it was that easy. You can use this soil for potting, repotting, and storing it for future use.

succulent soil
perfect mix @vividroot

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.

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

Follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Join the discussions at our Facebook Group, “Succulent City Plant Lounge.” Happy planting, and live the moment!

My Choices For Commercial Succulent Soils

Don’t want to dive into the mud pit? A couple of great succulent and cacti mixes are commercially available. Here are the two products I think are great to give a shot. The common thing between these 2 products is many 5-star reviews and thousands of monthly sales on Amazon. Also, I check the ingredients, they’re all good:

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 2024-04-16 / 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 2024-04-16 / Amazon

Other Things About Succulent Soil

Well, I don’t want the comment section of this post to scroll infinitely (haha) or my email filled with several similar questions. Succulent soil is an evergreen topic that has been asked a lot. Here is my collection of commonly asked questions on this topic (I will frequently update this section to bring my readers everything necessary):

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. Therefore, succulents do not need special soil. It is recommended, not compulsory. Regular potting soil is the same as succulent soil if you forget to water it regularly. Also, regular potting soil will retain water better, which is not good for succulents. Be careful with the amount of water you give your succulents.

3/ Do succulents like acidic soil?

I think they do because they can tolerate well in slightly acidic (pH 5.5-6.5) soil.

4/ Can I use succulent soil for other plants?

Like the above question, you can. Just need to understand the nature of succulent soil. Its nature is to drain water faster, unlike regular soil, which can retain water and moisture. So if you plan on having other plants there, water them more regularly.

5/ Can succulents grow in rocks?

No, succulents can’t grow in rocks. You can have a layer of rock on the soil for better decoration, but you can’t plant a succulent in a pot full of rock.

6/ Can succulents grow in purely sand?

Unlike rock, succulents can survive in a pot full of sand. It’s not the best option for nutrition, but succulents can survive that condition. Anyway, we would still recommend you plant succulents in well-fertilized soil.

7/ Is peat moss good for succulents?

As you see, peat moss is one of the mentioned organic matter in the succulent soil. So, it is perfect for succulents. If you do not like peat moss, you can choose other organic matter in the list above.

Related guides for further reads:

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!

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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

  1. 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.?

  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.

    1. Yeah, the garden soil I mentioned is actually made of a few components, not the natural soil because natural soil can be various. A soiless soil is totally fine if you can assure the organic matter ratio in the mixture is well-balanced.

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

    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.

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