Succulent Potting Soil Recipes: How To Make A Soil Mix For Succulents
By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
As home gardeners begin growing succulent plants, they’re told to use a fast-draining soil. Those accustomed to growing traditional plants might believe their current soil is sufficient. Perhaps, a better description of well-draining succulent soil mix would be extra drainage or amended drainage. Succulent potting soil needs adequate drainage to keep water from remaining on the shallow roots of these plants for any length of time.
About Succulent Soil Mix
Proper potting soil for succulents should encourage the entire pot to dry out quickly, as many issues come from wet soil on or below the root system. The difference in what we use for traditional plants and the media in which we plant succulents lies in the water retention aspect. Soil that is well aerated and well drained, while still holding moisture, is appropriate for other plants. The succulent soil mix, however, should encourage moisture to exit the container quickly.
You should choose material coarse in texture, such as pre-packaged succulent and cactus soil mixes. However, these may be difficult to find in some spots and pricey to order online with shipping. Many specialists want faster drainage than even these provide and prepare their own soil mix for succulents.
Making Potting Soil for Succulents
Online recipes abound. Most use a base of regular potting soil or the bagged succulent potting soil mix. If you choose to make your own mix, use regular potting media without additives. We’ll explain further ingredients to add to this when amending or making your own succulent potting soil.
Frequent additions to succulent growing medium include:
Coarse Sand – Coarse sand included at one half or one third improves soil drainage. Don’t use the finely textured type such as play sand. Cactus may benefit from a higher mix of sand, but it must be the coarse type.
Perlite – Perlite is commonly included in most mixes for succulents. This product adds aeration and increases drainage; however, it is lightweight and often floats to the top when watered. Use at 1/3 to 1/2 in a mix with potting soil.
Turface – Turface is a soil conditioner and calcine clay product that adds aeration to the soil, provides oxygen, and monitors moisture. A pebble type substance, it does not compact. Turface is the brand name but a commonly used term when referring to this product. Used as both a succulent soil mix additive and as a top dressing.
Pumice – Pumice volcanic material holds moisture and nutrients. Pumice is used by some in large quantities. Some growers use pumice only and report good results in trials. However, the use of this type of media requires more frequent watering. Depending on your location, you may have to order this product.
Coconut Coir – Coconut coir, the shredded husks of the coconut, adds drainage capabilities and can be wet repeatedly, as opposed to other products which might not accept water well after the initial wetting. Until recently, nobody mentioned coir (pronounced core) to the average succulent grower. At least one well-known succulent distributor uses coir as part of their unusual mix. I use a mix of 1/3 plain potting soil (the cheap kind), 1/3 coarse sand, and 1/3 coir and have healthy plants in my nursery.
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Read more about General Cactus Care
Succulent Soil – The Best Potting Soil Mix for Succulent Plants
Succulent soil is a combination of potting soil mix, coarse sand, and perlite. Succulent plants growing indoors or outdoors need a potting mix that is different from regular plants. The best type of soil mix for succulents must have excellent drainage without retaining too much moisture. Although you can buy commercial succulent soil, it’s easier and cheaper to make your own.
The ideal potting medium for succulents is similar to a cactus soil mix. Succulents and cacti grow best in a potting mix that dries reasonably rapidly. Adding plenty of inorganic matter to the soil creates a blend with excellent drainage and low moisture retention.
A light, porous, sandy soil mix allows water to drain fast from pots so that your succulents can thrive—indoors or outdoors.
The reason for making a sandy soil mix is because succulents and cactus plants are prone to root rot. Succulent roots quickly absorb moisture from the aerated, porous soil to store in fleshy leaves. Overly-moist succulent soil results in serious care issues when growing succulents indoors or outdoors.
In this guide, you’ll find out how to make the best succulent soil mix. You’ll also find a helpful recipe for making a homemade potting mix for succulents. You may be surprised to learn how easy making a DIY succulent mix can be.
Potting Mix Recipe For Vegetables
The growing medium for vegetable plants should be able to support the plant by holding the roots firmly. Also, it should fulfill all the requirements of the vegetable planted and here is such potting mix for you.
- Sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir two buckets full (Five-gallon buckets)
- Compost or well-rotted manure (Five-gallon bucket)
- 1/2 cup Garden lime (Optional)
- Perlite or Vermiculite or Coarse Sand one bucket full (Five-gallon bucket)
- Epsom salt (2-4 tablespoons)
- Wheelbarrow or a large container to mix
Step 1: Take two buckets full of peat moss or coconut coir and put it into a wheelbarrow. Break up the peat moss a little bit with hands if you observe lump forming.
Step 2 Add well-rotted horse or cow manure. You can also use your homemade compost or worm castings as an alternate.
Step 3: Add a five-gallon bucket full of perlite or its alternative. Give all the ingredients a good mix up.
Step 4 (Optional): Add a good quality 1/2 agricultural garden lime only if your soil is acidic.
Step 5: Adding a handful of Epsom salt will also enrich the potting mix and benefit the vegetables in the long run.
That’s it! Your vegetable potting mix recipe is ready.
Another Vegetable or Fruit Potting Mix Recipe
- Peat moss or coconut coir (One part)
- Compost or well-rotted manure (One part)
- Perlite or Vermiculite or Coarse Sand (One part)
- Commercial Potting mix or Sterilized Garden Soil (One part) *If you like, you can skip this ingredient.
Step 1: Make sure the compost or manure you use is free from pathogens and pasteurized.
Step 2: Add and mix everything well.
Step 3: You can skip the last ingredient if you want to make a soilless potting media.
Succulent Potting Mix Checklist
The biggest threat to succulent survival is root rot. It attacks the main channel for water and nutrient uptake of the plant leading to a weak, shriveled plant. Such a plant’s fate is almost sealed –death is inevitable.
Planting your succulents in the right soil can’t be stressed enough. A good succulent potting mix should have the following components:
1. Succulent Soil Should be Well-Draining
It definitely had to be top of the list. (If you’ve been reading our recent articles, we mention this a lot because of how important it is). Succulents and damp soil is just a disastrous combination.
When making your own succulent potting mix, you want to end up with soil that will drain well and quickly. Loose and grainy soil is the perfect substrate for growing succulents.
time to plant! @plantoolio
2. Your Succulent Soil Needs to Have Good Aeration
It’s important for the roots to have some space to breathe. This will not only make it easier for soil and nutrients absorption, but it will also create a sustainable environment for beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
3. Non-Compacting and Breathable Succulent Soil
Sticky and compact soil is terrible for succulents. The roots hate it because it retains moisture for long periods and makes it difficult for the plant to breathe.
4. Excessive Nutrients in Succulent Soil
This sounds pretty weird but it’s true. Soil containing too many nutrients, especially nitrogen, may lead to lanky, brittle, and unpleasant plants. Nobody wants such kind of goofy-looking plants, do they?
succulent soil @bloomedroots
Best Soil For Succulents
You can either buy a succulent mix specifically produced for growing succulents and cacti or prepare it yourself. While DIYing your own succulent mix, do not forget that these plants grow best in the soil is not very rich in nutrients and drains quickly.
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 1
- Potting Soil
- Coarse Sand (Turface or Poultry Grit)
- Perlite or Pumice
- Take a container big enough to hold all the ingredients easily
- Pour three parts potting soil, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite in the container
- Using trowel or hand, thoroughly mix these ingredients to obtain a mixture of uniform consistency
- The succulent potting mix is ready for use
You can make a big batch of soil and store it for use later. Plastic bags or buckets work fine for storage.
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 2
- Pine Bark Fines
- Turface (an absorptive rock)
- Part Crushed Granite
- Measure all the ingredients in equal parts and take quantity depending on your need
- Take the container and sill it with pine bark fines, turface, and part crushed granite
- Mix all these ingredients together till they form a uniformly consistent material
- That’s it! The succulent potting mix is ready for use
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 3
- Potting Soil
- Cactus Mix
- Mix both the potting soil and cactus mix in equal parts together
- Your soil is ready to use!
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 4
- Potting soil
- Coarse sand
- River rocks or gravel
- Start by top dressing the pot with rocks and gravels. This will save the crows from rotting
- Mix equal parts of all the ingredients. Measure the quantity as per your requirement
- You could also add half a teaspoon of white vinegar in the mix to increase acidity, which is something that all succulents like
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 5
- River sand. Avoid using sea or beach sand as they are high in salt
- Small pieces of stones, granite or marble
- Compost/vermicompost/leaf compost
- Neem Cake Powder
- Mix 40% or garden soil with 40% of river sand
- Add 5% stones and 5% compost
- Now add 5% neem cake power and 5% perlite to complete the mix
- Mix them all together and your growing medium for succulents is ready!
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 6
- Sterilized Garden Soil
- Coco Peat
- Mix 45% garden soil and 45% coco peat
- Add the remaining 10% sand into the mix and the growing medium will be ready to use
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 7
- Garden Soil
- Coco Peat
- Polystyrene Balls
- Mix 40% soil and 40% coco peat together
- Add 10% sand to the mix and top it with 10% Polystyrene Balls
- Mix all of them well together
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 8
- River Sand
- Coco peat
- Mix 35% sand and 35% coco peat together
- Now add 20% compost to the mix
- Mix 10% perlite to the mixture and mix them all well together
DIY Succulent Potting Soil – 9
- Potting Soil
- Peat Moss
- Mix both the potting soil and peat moss in equal parts together
- Your soil is ready to use!