The most important quality succulent soil must have is the ability to drain well. Succulents are native to conditions that are dry, with very little in the way of rainfall. Because of this, their roots are well adapted to absorbing water and nutrients very quickly, and they are able to store water in their leaves for an extended amount of time. Soil that doesn’t drain excess quickly enough can be detrimental to the health of the plant and cause it to rot.
How to make your own DIY soil for succulents
The best soil for succulents in pots can easily be mixed yourself at home using this easy succulent potting mix recipe.
• Perlite – one part
• Pumice – one part
• Sand – two parts
• Potting soil – three parts
Perlite is an ingredient added to soil that aids the drainage, and so it is perfect for use with plants that thrive in well-draining soil, such as succulents. Perlite also aids aeration and will keep the soil structure loose and stop it from compacting when potted, something that is also important for the growing of succulents.
Pumice works in a way that ‘conditions’ the soil, keeping in the nutrients of the soil without retaining water in a way that can be detrimental when growing succulents. It can help to loosen the density of soil too, which prevents it from compacting and reducing aeration. Turface can also be used in place of pumice, or even crushed granite.
Sand can be added to the mixture as, like pumice, it aids water drainage and aeration in soil. It can also be beneficial as it can help anchor the plant within the container and prevent it from becoming dislodged. A coarse sand is preferable if adding to a succulent potting mixture.
Potting Soil – generally you can use any type of all-purpose potting soil as the base for your succulent soil as long as it’s fresh, light and porous. Succulents need well draining potting soil, so you do not want to use the regular heavy garden soil that holds moisture or does not allow water to properly drain. While this is good for any other type of plant, it can be terrible for succulents. The composition of the soil is also too dense, and this can prevent aeration of the plant.
Also it’s important to avoid over-watering your plant, as doing this will negate the benefits of having a well-draining soil mixture. Water only when the soil has completely dried from the previous watering.
Buying pre-made soil mix
Pre-made potting soil mixes for succulents are widely available at garden centres, and this can be a good place to start for beginners. Bunnings, for example, have a specific type of soil available for succulents and cacti. African Violet mix is also widely available and is a good place to start when it comes to well-draining soil for succulents. However, you can add the extra ingredients mentioned above to these potting mixes yourself to improve the quality of the potting soil and suit the individual plant.
Choosing the right mix for your succulent
Each type of succulent may have varying needs, and so there is not one specific way to prepare soil mix for your plant. Experimenting with quantities and ingredients will help you to find the mix that is best for your plants. Small succulents, such as Aloe, Crassula and Sansevieria, may benefit from reducing the amount of drainage ingredients added to the mixture, whereas larger succulents such as Agaves, Yuccas and true cactus like Opuntia may require more of the drainage ingredient.
Repotting your succulent every couple of years is recommended in order to keep your plants looking their best.