How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil?

How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil
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How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil

How long can succulents live without soil? I received this question pretty often. If you asked the same question, then this post is for you.

Every succulent grower knows that succulents are unique plants with unique and special needs. One of the needs is soil. Succulents can only thrive in fast-draining soil.

There are instances though that succulent can survive without soil. But they cannot survive for long.

So, how long can succulents live without soil? Well, succulents can live for a couple of days without soil. But as mentioned, they will not last long without soil. Like other plats, succulents need soil as their primary source of nutrients.

When choosing soil, make sure that you choose the fast-draining one. Avoid compact soil because it retains too much moisture which can cause root rot.

Can Succulents Survive without Soil?

You might have seen some wonderful succulent arrangements in beautiful pots. In most cases, those arrangements do not have soil. It triggers questions like do succulents survive without soil at all?

Well, as you know, like other plants succulents need soil to thrive. If you see succulents planted in just rocks or sand, those are just for short term arrangement.

It is true that succulents can live without soil but only in a short period of time. Succulents can go for a couple of days without soil. Beyond that, they should be planted in fast-draining soil.

Why Do Succulents Need Soil?

Succulent plants are not epiphytes that can survive by just attaching themselves to the branches of the trees. Succulents rely on the soil as their primary source of nutrients.

However, it is also very important to remember that succulents do not survive long in a compact or garden soil. Instead, these plants need soil that does not absorb or retain too much water.

Succulents also do not need nutrient-rich soil. The best soil for succulents is the one composed of organic and inorganic materials. Soil like this provides just the right amount of nutrients, good aeration, and drainage.

Although succulent arrangements without soil are beautiful and fun to see, they are not designed for long term amusement. If these plants are not planted in the fast-draining soil, they will die eventually.

How to Make Succulents Live Longer Without Soil?

Now you know that succulents do not thrive long without soil. But if you really want to make a driftwood arrangement, you might be wondering if there is a way to somehow prolong the life of succulents without soil.

Fortunately, you can make succulents live longer without soil. What you need to do is to add fertilizer or other nutrient sources. The quickest way is to add diluted fertilizer for about ¼ strength into the water and use it when you water the plant.

Because succulents do not need nutrient-rich soil, it will be enough for the succulents to grow and thrive healthily.

The second thing you can do is to add moss or coir into the driftwood. You can just attach the succulents on the coir or moss. These organic materials will serve as the main nutrient sources for the succulents.

If you do this, make sure that you lightly mist to provide enough water and also prevent the plant from dying. But if you are using sphagnum moss, you don’t need to mist it regularly. This is because the moss holds more moisture. So be careful not to overwater the succulent.

All of these strategies are good enough to keep succulents live longer without soil.

Do Succulents Need a Lot of Soil?

In my experience, the amount of soil that a succulent plant need depends on its size. The bigger the size of the plant usually requires a bigger pot and more soil in it.

If you have a small succulent plant, you do not need more soil. You can just plant it in a small pot that requires only a little amount of soil.

But generally, succulents are not like other plants that need too much soil. As mentioned, they also need inorganic materials to provide drainage and aeration.

That said, what I usually look into is the type of soil I use for my succulent plants. Wrong soil will definitely harm the plant. You can make your own soil for your succulents. In my case though, I order all my supplies from online stores (click here to check my recommended succulent soil on Amazon).

What is a good soil mix for succulents?

A good succulent soil mix is the one that has a good ratio for organic and inorganic materials. The three most common ingredients are sand, gardening soil, and perlite or pumice.

You can mix two parts sand, two parts of gardening soil, and one-part perlite or pumice. Perlite and pumice do a really good job of providing soil aeration and drainage.

However, you do not have to stick to this material composition. You can always experiment and find out what is best for your succulent plants.

Can succulents grow in shallow soil?

Succulents usually have shallow roots. This means that they can grow in shallow soil. in fact, most of my succulents are planted in a shallow pot. As the succulents grow, their roots spread out throughout the pot.

What I found is that succulents grow well in a 4-inch deep container. I always use pots with drainage holes. This is very important for succulents to drain excess water during watering.

Pots without drainage hole are not good for succulents. The excess water will store at the bottom of the pot which will in turn cause root rot.

Final Thoughts on How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil

Although succulents can live without soil, they can not thrive long. This is because they need soil as their primary nutrient source.

However, succulents do not need nutrient-rich soil. What they need is soil that provides aeration and drainage. Avoid pure garden soil because it holds too much water which will cause root rot.

But if you really want to try putting a succulent plant in a beautiful arrangement without soil, make sure that you provide fertilizer or other nutrient sources such as moss or coir.

I hope this helps. Thank you very much for your time reading this post.


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

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