What is the best soil for succulents in pots? There is no clear answer to this question. Every gardener may have different preferred soil mix. However, gardeners would agree that the succulent soil should be fast-draining and retain little moisture and fertilizer.
Much like a food recipe, no two cooks or chefs have the same strategy in cooking one recipe. This is true among succulent growers. The ingredients in making the best soil for succulents in pots are the same but each grower may have a different cooking twist. But the outcome is just fine.
The key to making the type of soil should succulents be planted in is understanding their origin. Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. This means that they are accustomed to arid places.
These plants developed an ability to store water in their leaves and stems. The stored water allows the plants to thrive up to several days, weeks, or months without water.
Although succulents can be planted in an outdoor garden, their soil must be different from other plants. This is because, unlike other ornamental plants, succulents need fast-draining soil. The soil should allow the extra water to drain quickly leaving only a little amount of moisture.
Although succulents are tolerant of drought and other extreme environmental conditions, they cannot stand overwatering. Too much water will harm their growth and life. If you are planting succulents directly in the ground with compact soil, the plants will most likely die from rotting.
Different types of succulents (soft and hardy) have slightly different soil requirements. An adjustment might be needed depending on the local climate. Not only that, but the size of the pot also matters.
Succulents that grow bigger than the usual ones need bigger planters to allow them to reach their natural size. Smaller succulents, of course, need smaller pots.
If you are planning to make your own soil for your succulents, you have to remember a few things. Here, I will be sharing with you the basics of making, hopefully, the best soil for succulents in pots.
Most seasoned succulent growers may agree that the best ingredients of succulent soil mix are organic materials. And the most common materials are peat moss. Aside from being organic and safe for the plants, it also provides a fast-draining system for the rot-vulnerable succulents.
If you can’t find peat moss, you can substitute it with coir. It is made of shredded coconut husks. This organic material does not decompose quickly. The advantage is that it is easy to wet whenever it dries out.
Compost is another alternative. However, unlike the coconut husks, compost decomposes more quickly.
In addition, to make the best soil for succulents in pots, organic materials may not be enough. There are inorganic materials that most long-time succulent growers are using to make the soil crumblier and airy.
Examples include the perlite, pumice, chicken grit, and crushed granite. These materials allow the plants to breathe and grow freely. As the organic ingredients slowly decompose, the inorganic materials do not. Thus continually providing drainage for the plant.
The best soil for succulents often in the combination of organic and inorganic materials. The good combination is 50% organic and 50% inorganic. Mix all the ingredients together.
The next step is to water the soil mix. Then take a handful of it and squeeze it by your hand. If it forms and sticks together, it means that the soil mix is pretty compact. It won’t provide good drainage for the succulents.
What you can do is to add some more inorganic materials. Then mix. Repeat the process until the soil mix crumbles easily when you squeeze it.
The formulation of the best soil for succulents in pots involves many trials and experiments. I can’t recall how many times I tried to make my own soil mix. It took time before I made a good quality soil mix for my plants.
The good news is that today, you can easily buy succulent soil mix from the near suppliers. In my case, I buy most of my soil mix from online, especially from Amazon.
In this post, I would like to share the best soils for succulents in pots that I use for my plants. There are many soil brands. But I only want to share three of them.
The following soils are not only best for succulents but also for cacti. If you are busy, you can try one of the suggested soils below.
1. Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
The Hoffman soil mix is not only good for succulents. I also use this soil for my cacti. What I love about this soil mix is that it improves aeration and drainage. Unlike another soil mix that would become compact over time, Hoffman organic does the opposite.
This soil mix is also perfect for growing succulents from seeds or via propagation. Although it is already one of the best soils for succulents, you can always make a twist. You can add peat moss or perlite depending on the requirement of the succulents you are growing.
You can add some soil too. But I recommend that you constantly check the proportion. A 50-50 mix can be a good idea. This will help the plant to breathe and grow healthily.
Salient Soil Features:
- The best soil for succulents and cacti in pots
- Formulated to increase aeration
- With a balanced pH that promotes growth and drainage
- Perfect for seedlings and repotting
- Ready to plant soil
2. 3/16″ Red Cinder Lava Bonsai and Succulent Soil
Another great soil mix for succulents is the Red Cinder Lava Bonsai and Succulent Soil. As the name suggests, this soil is not only for succulents but for other plants. In fact, I tried this for my Pachypodiums.
I found no problem with the soil. Unlike another soil mix that causes issues like the growing of mushrooms, the Red Cinder Lava soil stays clean. Personally, I did not encounter problems with this soil. Maybe because of the perfect location where I live.
Many of the long-time succulent growers I know use this soil mix too. If you want to have a ready to plant soil, you probably want to check this out.
Salient Soil Features:
- Great soil choice for succulents and bonsai
- Provides aeration to the succulents
- Keeps the plants from overwatering
- Great soil for propagation
3. Miracle-Gro 0062581-298 Cactus, Palm, Citrus Soil
The Miracle-Gro is one of the best soil for succulents in pots, especially for beginners. If you are cultivating a fairy garden, you might want to try this soil. When I was started growing succulents, like other beginners, I did not know what type of soil is the best. Thanks to Miracle-Gro.
Although I tested and used different soil mix over the years, this one is something I can’t forget. My garden reminds me of how good this soil is.
The mix comes with clumps that can be broken easily. Using this soil eases the worry about overwatering. The extra water would drain quickly leaving nothing but enough moisture.
Apart from being fast-draining, this soil also contains just enough nutrients that provide healthy growth for the succulents. You don’t have to apply fertilizer. Your plants will grow just fine without giving additional nutrients.
Salient Soil Features:
- Nutritious soil for succulents and cacti
- Great soil for cacti, palm, and other plants
- Provides drainage for succulents and other plants not tolerant of water
- Great soil choice for beginner
These soil mixes are great to start with when you are a beginner. Just test the water and find what best suits your plants’ needs.
How to make succulent soil?
If you don’t want to buy a ready to plant soil mix, you can make your own. Throughout the years, after hundreds of trying and failing, I somehow figured it out. I learned the inexpensive way to make my own version of the best soil for succulents in pots.
The best part is that you can find the ingredients in your local garden supplier. Also, you can use these ingredients for different gardening projects.
The succulent potting soil ingredients
Making your own version of the best soil for succulents in pots requires a few main ingredients. Here are the easy to find materials:
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Any type of potting soil will do to serve as the base of the succulent soil. It does not have to be special. Just use the resources around you. But if you are running out of time, you might want to buy potting soil online. It is up to you.
Although you can use any type of soil as a base, it is always the best idea to use a porous one. Do not use compact soil because it blocks and retains water. Remember that succulents need fast-draining soil to keep them safe from overwatering.
Incorporating course sand to your succulent potting mix is a great idea. This is because succulents love sandy soil.
There are many types of sands you can find around. But not all of those are perfect for your succulents. What I recommend is coarse sand. It provides aeration to the plants.
There is one thing that you should always remember here. And that is, do not use beach sand. It is way more compact and may contain minerals that can bring harm to your succulents.
If you can’t find coarse sand, use poultry grit or turface instead.
Perlite or Pumice
Perlite or pumice is another essential ingredient for succulent soil. This material is a lightweight organic ingredient that boosts the aesthetic value of the plants.
Aside from that, this organic material also helps provide aeration and drainage for the succulents. It prevents soil compaction that will seriously harm the plant.
Most commercial succulent potting soil mixes come with this material. This is the reason why I am enticed to buy succulent mixes online.
But if you have time to make your own succulent soil, it is a good idea to try it. There is available perlite or pumice you can buy from Amazon or from other online sellers.
Aside from the main materials, you also need some tools to make a succulent soil mix. With these tools, the process of making succulent soil mixes will be easy and handy.
- A container for mixing
- Measuring container
You can improvise, however. Make use of all the available tools you have in your house. As long as you follow a certain recipe, you’ll be okay.
Here’s what you need:
- Potting soil – 3 parts
- Coarse sand or poultry grit – 2 parts
- Perlite or pumice – 1 part
The “part” here pertains to the measurement being used to all ingredients. It could be a measuring cup, a scoop, or a regular unused coffee mug. You can use anything to measure the ingredients. Just make sure that whatever measure you’re using, you use it for all the ingredients. This way you would come up with a good mix.
After preparing the correct proportion of ingredients, the next thing you need to do is to mix them all. Pour all the ingredients in the mixing container and stir them.
You can do it by hand. Or, for convenience, you can use the trowel. Stir the ingredients until they are well-mixed.
After this simple process, if done properly, you’ll have your own version of the best soil for succulents in pots.
Can you plant succulents in just rocks? Yes, you can absolutely plant succulents in rocks. But will they thrive? No. Succulents are like any other ornamental plants that need soil. Soil provides all the nutrients necessary for growth. Pure rock, on the other hand, does not contain any nutrients thus cannot provide the succulents of their basic needs.
What kind of soil do succulents like? Succulents love porous and fast-draining soil. This type of soil allows succulents to breathe and grow freely. Finally, succulents like soil that eliminates extra water. This is the reason why the best soil for succulents in pots always has a combination of coarse sand and organic ingredients.
Related Article: How to Grow Succulents? The Complete Guide