Can you plant succulents in straight perlite? If you are reading tips online, you may have come across so many suggestions. Sometimes they are confusing. In this post, I will share with you some tips that work for me and for most succulent growers. I hope this helps.
Perlite is one of the best ingredients of a perfect succulent soil mix. It helps keep the soil breathable and fast-draining.
But can you plant succulents in straight perlite?
Succulents can be planted in straight perlite. However, because perlite does not have enough nutrients that succulents need, mixing perlite with soil is a great option. You can use 80/20 or 50/50 perlite and soil ratio.
Some succulents do survive in straight perlite. This is because succulents don’t need many nutrients to survive. But because perlite does not contain sufficient nutrients for sustainable growth, succulents need soil.
The second problem that I have with pure perlite is that it does not provide strength for the roots and the whole plant. As the succulents grow bigger, they need something to anchor their roots on.
Bigger succulents may have weak root foundation if planted in straight perlite.
However, most succulents do really need soil. In my case, I always start with the soil mix, especially when propagating leaf cuttings. So far I have been seeing good results.
But of course, the requirements of succulents may vary depending on many factors. Your climate, water, growing state, available sunlight, and the immediate surroundings directly affect the growth of these plants.
For year of growing succulents, I learned that there is no general rule as to how these plants be raised. They open doors for experiments. As a grower, you should not afraid of exploring strategies.
That said, no single tip or recommendation can be applicable to all. This is also the reason why some guides you found online are contradicting.
For instance, in preparing succulent soil, perlite is one ingredient. You can always incorporate other materials such as turface, poultry grit, pumice, etc. But if these materials are not available in your place, you can choose perlite instead.
Perlite is common and easy to find anywhere. But I don’t recommend planting bigger succulents in straight perlite. As mentioned, this material is too light to hold the bigger succulents. In the long run, succulents may suffer some issues of nutrients and stability.
Recommended Potting Mix Recipe
If you are new to growing succulents, you might suffer at keeping your succulent plants healthy. Back when I was started, I had the same experience. I struggled finding the best potting mix recipe for my succulent plants.
Related: Do Succulents Require Special Soil?
But the truth is, making your own potting mix is easy. The easy steps that I will share in this post only require three ingredients. These ingredients are easy to find.
The ingredients are:
- Coarse sand (if not available, you can use turface or poultry grit) (Check on Amazon)
- Potting soil (Check on Amazon)
- Perlite or Pumice (Check on Amazon)
Before you go on mixing the ingredients together, make sure that you already have a base. Any potting soil can be used as a base. See to it that the base soil is fresh, clean, and has all the elements that succulents need.
Whatever potting soil you choose, make sure it is light and porous that could provide good aeration for the succulents. A soil like this also provides good drainage for excess water. Avoid using soil base the retains water because it could cause rotting.
The Importance of Coarse Sand
Succulents don’t like compacting soil. One way to amend it is by adding a coarse sand. Coarse sand makes the soil mix more porous and fast draining.
It is very important to note though that not all types of sand work in this case. Avoid using beach sand, garden sand, or sandbox. Aside from pathogens these sands have, they are too compact for succulents’ soil mix.
Using any the mentioned sands will only make the soil absorbs more water than not. If coarse sand is not available, you can use turface or poultry grit instead.
The Importance of Perlite or Pumice
Perlite is a white and lightweight material. Like coarse sand, perlite provides better aeration and drainage for soil. And because it only retains littler moisture, is inhibits the soil from becoming compact.
Aside from the ingredients, you also need some simple tools. The following tools will be used for mixing all the ingredients together.
- Mixing Container
- Measuring Container
Now, you are ready to start making your succulent soil mix. You can start by making the following measurements:
- 1 part of perlite or pumice
- 2 parts of coarse sand
- 3 parts of potting soil
The “part” pertains to the unit you’re using to measure each ingredient. It is a generic unit being applied to all ingredients in the mix. In other words, you only need one measuring container for all the ingredients.
You can use any measuring container as long as it can provide accurate measure and ratio.
Mixing All the Ingredients
Now that you have measured all the ingredients in the right ratio, you just need to pour them in the mixing container.
Again, you can use any container here as long as it is big enough to accommodate all the ingredients.
You can then mix the ingredients with a trowel or with your bare hand. The important thing here is to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. And that’s it. You have the perfect succulent soil mix.
Related: Best Soil for Succulents in Pots
Can you put too much perlite in soil?
Adding too much perlite in the soil may not be good for succulents especially for the bigger ones. This is because makes the soil easy to crush. In the long run, it will not provide root foundation to the plant. A good amount of perlite though could certainly help the soil become fast-draining and provide better aeration.
Can I mix perlite with potting soil?
Yes. As mentioned, perlite helps provide drainage and prevents the soil from compacting. This will result in a fast-draining soil mix that is perfect for all succulent plants.
Is perlite a Styrofoam?
No. Styrofoam and perlite are two different materials although they have the same color. Perlite is a natural material from volcanic glass that will eventually dissolve over time. While the Styrofoam is synthetic and will not dissolve. Thus, it can harm the environment.
Does perlite hold water?
Perlite does hold water but it also drains water. This makes this material good for succulents. These plants don’t like too much water. So adding perlite is a great addition to the succulent soil mix.