Do Succulents Require Special Soil?

Do Succulents Require Special Soil

Do succulents require special soil? This is a question that bothers especially the newbies. If you are new to growing succulents, chances are you got so many questions. In this post, let’s talk about whether succulents need special soil.

Succulents are really sensitive plants when it comes to water and light as well as to the kind of soil they want to live with.

Thus, if you want to grow a healthy succulent, you need to consider the quality and type of soil you want to use.

So, do succulents require special soil? Yes. Succulents need fast-draining soil to prevent root rotting. Avoid using compact soil because it tends to retain more water that will harm the plant.

Succulents are not like other plants. They have certain needs that when not met will detriment their growth and overall health.

A successful succulent growing emanates from understanding the very nature. Let’s talk about the nature of these cute and lovely plants.

What are succulents?

Succulents are drought resistant plants in which the stems, roots, and leaves are fleshy (this is why they have watery characteristics when pinched) due to the water-storing tissue they have in their body.

They are resistant to heat and are much more capable to endure places with less rainfall. These kinds of the plant do not need constant watering. The only time that the succulents need water is when the leaves and roots have already dried out.

Most succulents are found in dry areas such as deserts, semi-deserts, steppes, and mountainous regions all over the world. However, this does not mean that they can survive in the driest areas. Succulents can die when exposed to too much heat and without water.

Nutrients Needed in Soil for Succulents

Since succulents are rooted plants, it is better if they are placed in soil that is rich in nitrogen. The nutrient helps aeration which is needed by the succulents for healthier growth.

Compacting soil is a big no to succulents. These plants prefer soil that is lighter with more aeration. They grow well and healthily with well-draining potting soil.

However, succulents are strong enough to survive with lesser nutrients than any other plant and require fewer amounts of organic minerals. But this does not mean however that they do not need enough nutrients at all.

About the Succulent Soil

Succulents require special soil since they are natives of desert plants. Regular potting soil for them would not do better.

As I have mentioned before, what they really need are soils with a high level of aeration so water can flow freely from their leaves down to their roots. Another purpose of a fast-draining soil is to allow the excess water to drain fast.

Succulents store water in their leaves and can survive without getting watered for weeks. For this reason, they can live in the rocks. However, these plants, although versatile, need care and nutrients despite the fact that they are accustomed to semi-desert areas.

Succulents are best grown in sandy potting soil because sand can go very fast in draining and is really good at aeration so oxygen and other nutrients can go down to the roots. Any kind of sand will do but it is best to use coarse sand (concrete sand that is washed in larger grit; bigger than fine sand).

Beach sand is good too but since it is mostly round, it provides less moisture. The other problem with beach sand is that it tends to contain minerals that are harmful to succulent plants. If you want a fast-draining soil, you should avoid beach sand.

Of course, sand alone does not help succulents to survive. It needs soil and other organic materials for better aeration and nutritional sources.

Aside from special soil for your succulents, you also need to consider the pot you’ll be using. For better drainage, choose a pot that has a drainage hole. This keeps the succulent safe from root rotting.

Ingredients Needed for Making Succulent Mix

Since not all types of soils are healthy for succulents, you need to choose the best. I usually use the following materials whenever I make my own succulent soil mix.

  • Turface or poultry grit (buy it from Amazon)
  • Coarse sand (buy it from Amazon)
  • Perlite (buy it from Amazon)
  • Tap soil or potting soil (buy it from Amazon)

These are just a few materials that I usually use in making my own succulent mix. Other succulent grower uses additional organic and inorganic materials. It is fine. But I found that these four materials are enough for my succulents.

How do you make a succulent mix?

Making your own special soil for your succulents involves a few easy steps. At this point, I will share with you how you can do it.

Aside from the materials mentioned, you also need a few tools to make the process even easier and faster. It is important to have these tools before you start making your succulent soil mix.

Needed Tools

  • Trowel
  • Measuring container
  • Bucket or any container that can be used for mixing

Now for the recipe…

In making special soil for my succulents, I use the following ratio of materials:

  • 3 parts of potting soil or tap soil
  • 2 parts of coarse sand or turface/poultry grit
  • 1 part of perlite/pumice

“Part” here refers to the common measurement unit used to come up with an accurate amount of the materials needed. You can use anything as a measuring instrument but make sure that you use it for all the ingredients you’ll be included in the mix.

Now, let’s mix the materials together…

Mixing the materials is pretty easy and straight forward. The only thing that needs to do is to put all the ingredients in one container and mix them up. Do this thoroughly to have an even distribution of the ingredients.

You can use your hand to mix the ingredients. But I what found a good way to do it is to use a trowel. It allows you to really mix the ingredients evenly.

You’ve got it. At this point, your special soil for your succulents is done. You can proceed with the planting or succulent propagation.

But what if you don’t have time to make your own special soil for your succulents? What you can do?

Well, I was exactly in that situation years ago. I bought with my daily job so I don’t have time to make my own succulent soil mix.

The best thing I did was that I bought the supply from online stores. It was too easy. The ordered materials and ingredients were delivered into my door days later.

The only problem I had was that not all materials were as I expected. I noticed some defects on them and I returned to the online suppliers.

But don’t worry, I will share with you some of the materials I bought online that satisfied me and my succulents.

Below is the list of products that you can trust. In fact, I trusted them for years and they never failed me.

Disclaimer: The following list contains links to Amazon in which when you click and purchase a product through the links, I will earn a little commission without an extra to you.

Here are the special soils you can use too for your succulents:

  1. Succulent Planter Soil Kit
  2. Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix
  3. Cactus and Succulent Blend Potting Mix
  4. Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil Gritty Mix
  5. Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil Gallon
  6. Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
  7. Organic Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix
  8. Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm and Citrus Potting Mix
  9. Espoma CA4 Organic Cactus Mix
  10. Bonsai Pumice Professional American Additive

Final Thoughts on Do Succulents Require Special Soil

It is true that succulents are versatile plants. They can tolerate harsh environments and weather. However, the have special needs.

Soil is one of the most important considerations if you want to grow healthy succulent plants.

The good news is that making a homemade succulent mix is super easy. You can do it in your spare time.

However, if you don’t have time to do it, then buying a special soil for your plants online can be the best option.

You can consider the succulent soil mixes introduced in this post.

I hope this helps you grow your succulents healthily.

Happy succulent growing! For more information about succulent growing, feel free to read my Succulent Growing Guide.


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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