Time to read. 10 minutes
Grow succulent plants in pots or containers with greater convenience. They can be used for decoration both indoors and outdoors. One of these plants’ primary benefits is that they are less maintaining and slow-growing, and easily adapted to a harsh environment. However, succulent plants require the correct potting mix to grow well. There are mainly two key basic things in the succulents soil mix.
The most crucial thing in a DIY succulent soil recipe is, well, drain and lose. These are crucial factors when preparing the soil for succulents. When watering succulent plants, all the excess water should easily flow out of the pot. Moreover, it should provide sufficient nutrients to grow. If you prefer to keep small succulent plants in pots, never use fertilizers or nutrients (NPK) rich soil.
These dry environment plants require minimal amounts of water. Because they store water in leaves, stems, pads, and roots. Using stored water, succulent plants survive for the rest of the period. Therefore, we have to add more water-absorbing materials like perlite, pumice, or activated charcoal to the potting mix. Depending on the weather conditions, these wet absorbent ratio materials may change.
In a desert condition environment, it has more sandy soil and less moisture. Therefore succulents can grow without soil, with a simple pebble, charcoal, moss, rock chips, and sand mix medium; however, not for a longer period.
Most of these plants grow in dry, semi-desert, and desert areas. When growing succulents at pots these plants, expect similar growing conditions. When the succulent substrate keeps wet for a longer period, it can rot the root system.
Best Potting Soil for Succulent Plants.
One of the basic requirements for potting soil for succulent plants is quick drainage, lightweight, and well aerated. Succulents can grow in sandy soil. These plants can survive in a harsh environment. Though adding more sands does not thrive the plant. There should be balanced organic and inorganic materials.
Succulents and cactus prefer acid soil which has a pH level between 5.5pH to 6.5pH.
We grow succulent plants for decoration. However, most of the gardeners grow Aloe Vera not just for decoration purposes. Therefore, you have to use a slightly different substrate for Aloe Vera plants. In this DIY succulent potting mix, I am not going to use ready-to-use mixtures on the market. Because of this soil recipe is cheaper and makes it according to your area’s climate condition.
The ideal mix of these two materials is 60% inorganic materials and 40% of organic materials.
Inorganic components improve the succulent soil mix drainage, aeration, and moisture retentiveness. These materials do not break down like other organic matters. Well, aerated substrate hep to grow a strong root system. Use 60% or higher inorganic materials is recommended. These are various types of inorganic components,
- Gritty mix.
- Coarse Sand.
- Lava rock.
- Activated Charcoal.
- Rock chips.
Succulent soil mix organic components provide nutrients to the plants. These components have moisture retention. Therefore you have to be more careful mixing organic matters into your potting mix. Do not use more than 40% of these organic materials for your potting mixture. Here are various types of organic components,
- Peat moss.
- Garden Soil.
- Pine Bark
- Coconut Coir.
- Worm castings.
DIY Outdoor Succulent Soil Recipe.
The following recipe provides more nutrients to plants. When growing succulents outdoor, you have to use few moisture-retaining materials. This will help to cut down the regular watering.
- Sands 40% – Gritty mix, Coarse Sand, Granite sand, Turface, Lava rock. The best particle size is 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm). (4 parts)
- Soil 20% – Readymade organic potting mix or garden soil. – (2 Parts)
- Compost 10% – (use when you apply garden soil) – (1 Part)
- Perlite, Pumice, or Activated Charcoal 30%. You can use either one material – (3 Parts)
The Perfect Indoor Succulent Soil Recipe.
The following indoor succulent recipe provides fewer nutrients than the above recipe. Though, it provides greater drainage and keeps your plant sitting on a dry medium.
Since it provides less moisture, this is the perfect soil for indoor succulents as well as great for colder regions that have low temperatures. If you like to enhance the nutrient level, add 1 part of compost, worm casting.
- Pine Bark 50% – Use particle size is 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm) size shredded barks – (5 Parts)
- Sands 30% – Gritty mix, Coarse Sand, Granite sand, Turface, Lava rock (optimal particle size is 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm). (3 parts)
- Perlite, Pumice, or Activated Charcoal 20%. You can use either one material – (2 Parts)
Can I use regular potting soil for succulents?
Regular pre-made potting mix on the market can use as soil for succulents. You cannot use this potting mix straight away. It can be used as a replacement for garden soil and compost. However, you must add other essential succulent soil ingredients to make the readymade potting mix into succulent soil. If the product contains peat moss, it is not recommended to use it.
Adding these inorganic materials to the succulent substrates provides more value to the plant-growing medium. Most of the ready-to-use potting mix contains compost, perlite, and peat moss in different quantities. Therefore, better check the packet ingredients before use.
- Sands 30%:- Gritty mix, Coarse Sand, Granite sand, Turface, Lava rock which has 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm) particle size.
- Organic Potting mix 40%:- Recommend no peat contains a mixture.
- Perlite, Pumice, or Activated Charcoal 20%.
- Pebbles or rock chips 10%.
If your organic potting mix contains sands, reduce the sands portion. Generally, all the pre-made potting mix bags mentioned each material. Then, as per the manufacture’s details, introduce sands to the mixture.
Unit of measurement compares.
If you use the scoop measure, consider one scoop is equal to 10%. So for 40% of sands is identical to four scoops of sands. If you use the cup measure, consider the 10 % is equivalent to one cup. So then 30% of soil is equal to three cups of soil.
- Gardening gloves.
- Measuring cup.
- A trowel or small shovel.
- A bucket or plastic bin to mix the succulents soil mix.
Detail of the succulents soil ingredient.
Sands: Provide ensure well-draining potting mix. In arid environment soil, contain more sands. Gritty mix and Coarse Sand are the perfect ingredients. Moreover, you can use small gravel, turface, or lava rock. When using them, make sure that their diameter is small (3 – 6 mm size approximately). Alternatively, you can use washed sands that do not contain any salt or chemicals. Never use beach sands.
Soil: Use garden soil that is not close to the clay. Loamy soil prefers most plants. However, succulent plants prefer slightly acidic soil, which has around the 5.5-pH to 6.5 pH level. If you cannot easily find garden soil, you can use a readymade potting mix exclusively mixed for succulents and cactus.
Organic Potting Mix: If you live in a backyard or where there is no backyard. Something like an apartment or condominium. Then you have to use the readymade organic potting mix for soil. Moreover, if your garden soil close to clay, you cannot use that clay soil either. When using a potting mix, do not use moisture; preserve material contains potting mix like peat moss and coco peat.
Compost: Providing little nutrients to the succulent enough. When growing them no need to use fertilizer. Therefore, using homemade organic compost provide sufficient fertility to your potting mix. Using phosphorus-rich organic matter promotes root growth. This compost should decompose well.
Suppose you use an organic potting mix. No, need to use compost. It contains sufficient organic nutrients for succulent plants.
Pine Bark: This is a nutrient-rich material that can substitute for readymade potting soil or garden soil. Pine bark rich in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other minerals like iron, magnesium. This is a great substrate for acid-loving plants like succulents, cactus. The most suitable size is 1/4 inch (6 mm) or smaller.
Perlite, Pumice, or Activated Charcoal: These things enhance the potting mix moisture absorption. Keeping too many wet ends up in succulent root rot.
Activated charcoal enhances the potting mix aeration and looseness. In addition, it helps prevent fungus activities and good natural solution for preventing roots rotting.
Pumice also an excellent choice to provide good drainage and aeration. In addition, it is more durable than perlite. Read more about pumice or perlite advantage.
Pebbles or rock chips: Mixing these materials with potting mix solely use for enhancing the soil loose. With loose soil, it increases drainage. Likewise, it increases the soil temperature. Adding pebbles are optional, though it gives an extra benefit to the plant.
Coconut Coir: Coconut coir is a good ingredient to maintain the potting mix moisture level in hot climates. Cooler climate does not recommend using coir. I do not recommend using more than 30% of coconut coir for succulent potting mix. Indoor growers should use less than 15% of coir. Tropical climate gardeners can use this ingredient to reduce frequent watering.
This homemade potting mix for succulents can grow the nursery plant and potted plants, including indoor and outdoor. Moreover, you can use it for repotting.
How To Prepare Soil For Succulents?
Once you have collected all the succulent soil ingredients, you can make the best soil at home. If it is hard to find the exact ingredients, you can use alternatives. For instance, use the organic potting mix on the market for garden soil. Mixing this DIY potting soil for succulents’ super simple.
- Put all the material (sand, soil, compost, perlite, pebbles, or rock chips) into a single bucket/container.
- Using a trowel, hand rake, or your hand, mix everything well.
- Once everything is mixed, you can use them for planting.
If you are living in a dry area, adding a few cocopeat beneficial. It will retain moisture. Therefore, use only a few amounts. Adding too much will cause succulent roots to dry up. Because succulents do not like wet soil.
What should not use for a DIY succulents soil recipe?
- Peat moss: This is water repels material; in another work, it can hold the water. Therefore, it is not suitable for arid plants, which need less moisture. Generally, these plants require very little moisture.
- Vermiculite: Most gardeners use this material to absorb excess water. However, it holds water, which is not good for this type of dry plant.
Adjusting Succulent Soil In different climates.
Wet and highly humid climate: Never use coco peat, vermiculite, peat moss. These materials are kept moist. Instead, use more water-absorbing materials like perlite, pumice, and more sands. Besides, it is beneficial to use small gravel instead of sand. Also, never use close to clay soil.
Dry and high-temperature, sunny Climate: Use very little water to retain materials like coco peat, vermiculite. Its ratio should not exceed 15% of the other ingredients. Too much wet not good for the root system.
Recommended reading: How to Water Succulents and cactus | 10 Tips.
Common Questions and Answers about Succulents.
What is the optimum succulent soil pH level?
The optimum pH level in succulent soil is around 5.5 pH level. However, it can change from 4.5 to 6.5 levels. To make the potting mix more acidic, increase the sands portion. With a simple pH test, you can measure the soil pH level.
Succulent propagation soil.
When propagating succulents from cuttings, you can use this DIY succulent potting soil. When the plant in a nursery or young age, they start growing the root system. That is the best time to move the baby succulent to a new potting mix. Unlike other plants, they do not require consistently moist soil to grow the new roots. Nevertheless, never let the soil dry.
Do succulents like coffee grounds?
Coffee ground rich in nitrogen. Introducing these organic materials add nitrogen to the soil, which is vital for succulent plants. Furthermore, the coffee ground can effortlessly decompose than other organic materials. Therefore, periodically adding coffee grounds to succulent pots beneficial, though adding more nitrogen-rich material not good.
Can Succulents Survive Without Soil?
Yes, you can grow succulents without soil. With only sands, pebbles, charcoal, cocopeat, coco fiber mix medium. Nevertheless, not for a longer period. When growing succulents in a jar, bowl, or terrariums, it uses more sand and pebbles. Nevertheless, it is not the ideal conditions in which they can thrive. You can use them for the short term.
Because succulents get nutrients from the root system, hence, it needs a good medium to thrive. Therefore, providing epiphytes plant type, a medium not good.
Why succulents need soil?
Succulent need well-drained soil to grow. These plants need minimum nutrients to grow. Adding good growing medium essential. Succulents can easily grow in harsh conditions that other plants hard to survive—for instance, high temperature and low rainy areas. Thus, adding sand and soil mix medium perfect potting mix for succulent plants.
Is pine bark good for succulents and cactus?
Pine bark is a good organic material for succulents and cactus potting mix. These materials absorb moisture and contain air. Therefore, it takes a long time to break. Due to that, Pine bark mulch is a good substrate for succulents and cactus. These materials improve soil aeration and looseness. Pine Bark potting mix is good for acid-loving, like succulents and cactus.
Is Bonsai mix good for succulents?
Bonsai soil is excellent for succulents and cactus. There are many benefits of this potting mix. Bonsai soil is a lightweight and well aeration substrate. This soil mix has a 5.5pH level with greater water drainage, minimal organic materials, and large particle size. It is perfect for succulents, cactus, and bonsai. You can use bonsai mix, which has particle size 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3 mm) ingredients.
What is the best particle size for succulent soil mix?
The optimum particle size for succulents soil ingredients is between 1/4 and 1/8 in diameter (6mm to 3mm). These size materials enhance the soil mix drainage and aeration. In addition, it will help to develop a strong root system. By using a sieve, you can remove fine dust particles which is clog on these materials.
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