How To Choose The Perfect Soil For Your Succulents?

Whether you're a rare succulent collector or keep them in an office for healing purposes, knowing how to pick the right potting mix and soil for your plants is essential. Not all potting mixes excel with succulents, it's important to choose soil that won't lose its moisture too quickly or hold onto water for too long.
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Providing a solid foundation for your succulents, as in choosing the perfect soil, is the first place to keep them healthy. Succulents are currently all the rage, and whether you are putting them in your living room or bedroom, it can be important to make sure they have the care they need to succeed. One of the sources which ensure success when it comes to succulents is the soil it is placed in. 

Choosing the perfect soil for your succulents means picking soil that is a combination of regular potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite. These components must be mixed in the proper amounts to allow your succulent to have drainage without keeping in moisture. 

If you use the wrong type of soil for your succulent, it could cause it to not get the proper amount of water and air, and it may die. Keep reading to find out just how to choose the perfect soil to keep your succulents happy and healthy. 

Choosing Soil for Your Succulents

When you head to the store to buy soil for your succulents, it may be tempting to buy a bag of regular potting soil. Don’t do this. Regular potting soil retains water in amounts that are too high for your succulent, and this will cause them to rot. 

Another problem is that regular potting soil is too compacted for a succulent to grow properly. It stifles the roots, so they are unable to breathe. This is why succulents need their own soil.

Instead of getting random soil, make sure the soil is suitable for your succulents.

Look around the store for soil that is labeled specifically for succulents. Depending on your region, you may not see any soil which is specified for use with succulents. 

Check for soil that can be used for cacti because this soil has similar properties to the soil needed by succulents. If you don’t see either of these options, you may have to make your own soil to ensure the success of your succulents. 

Make Your Own Succulent Soil

If you’ve looked high and low for the perfect soil for your succulents and you don’t want to order soil online, it may be time to create your own soil. 

You can make your own succulent soil by mixing inorganic matter, perlite, and coarse sand.

Generally, the best recipe for making succulent potting soil is as follows:

  • 1/2 Inorganic Matter
  • 1/4 Perlite
  • 1/4 Coarse Sand

Inorganic matter refers to dirt, and this is where it is okay to use regular potting soil. However, it alone is not enough. This is why you will mix in the perlite and coarse sand to make the soil more breathable. 

You can also replace the perlite or coarse sand with other organic matter such as peat moss, compost, and bark. You have to be careful, though, as these three materials are all masters at retaining moisture and quickly cause your soil to become too wet if you replace both the perlite and the sand. 

You will need a large bucket to place all of these elements in, then use a spade to mix them all together. Once all the components are thoroughly mixed, you can shovel the mixture into the pot you plan to place your succulent into. 

Can I Use Soil from My Garden?

Do you already have an outdoor garden that you think has great soil? Unfortunately, it’s a bad idea to consider using this for your succulents. This is because the soil in your garden isn’t considered sterile, meaning it may be infested with bugs that could harm your succulent. 

Since soil in your garden is not sterile, it should not be used for planting succulents.

Not only that, but it’s likely your succulent will be a house plant, and who wants bugs in their house?

For the best results, purchase all-purpose potting soil that is fresh and free from pests. If you have questions about how fresh potting soil is, don’t be afraid to ask an employee for help. 

Can I Use Sand from My Sandbox?

Although it may be tempting to grab a handful of sand from your sandbox for your succulent soil mixture, this not the proper sand for your plants. Even if you live near the beach or another place with lots of sand, this is still not advised. This is because sand, like the soil from your garden, can contain bugs and other plant matter, which can harm your precious succulent. 

You should never use sand from a sandbox to add to your soil mix since it is not sterile and might contain bugs.

While shopping for sand, it’s best to find a coarse mixture that is recommended for use with cacti, succulents, or bonsai trees. This coarse sand is made especially for growing succulents and is much more sterile than the sand you will find outside. Don’t be surprised when you find that this sand is more expensive than sandbox sand. That’s because this sand is different and designed with your plant’s health in mind. 

What is Perlite?

This may be the first time you are hearing about perlite, and you may be wondering what it is. Perlite is a lightweight material made from volcanic ash. It goes through a process that makes it light and porous, which is one of the reasons it is so good to add to a soil mixture. Besides just helping the soil breathe, the pours on the perlite help the soil to store nutrients. 

Perlite is non-toxic, but it can irritate your lungs, especially in people who already have lung conditions like asthma. It can also irritate your eyes, so be careful with it while you use it. Luckily perlite never decays, so if you purchase a large bag, you can keep it around for your succulent planning for years to come. 

You can usually buy perlite at the same place you can buy gardening soil. But you can also order it online if you are unable to find it in a store. 

Notes for Outdoor Succulents

Now it’s possible that you may want to plant or keep your succulents outside. You can still use the same soil mixture that you created above, but you may need to make a few changes. You will know what changes need to be made based on the location in which you live.

If you live in an area with clay soil, it is not advised that you try to grow your succulents outdoors. This is because the ground is too dense to work with or amend in a way that is beneficial for succulents. You are better off keeping them in pots. The best pots for outdoor succulents are terra cotta or clay pots that will let the water drain. 

For those who live in an area that is non-clay soil but receives a lot of rain, it is best if you create the specified mixture above and plant your succulents in a raised garden bed. 

This will allow the excess water to run out of the soil instead of staying around the succulents’ roots and causing rot. Do note that if you are keeping your succulent in a pot outdoors in this type of weather, it should not be a plastic or glazed pot because these retain too much water.  

In windy areas, you can still use the raised garden bed idea, but it will be important that you also place some medium-sized stones on top of the soil to prevent it from blowing away. After all, that soil is your hard work and the lifeblood for your succulents!

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to find the perfect potting soil for your precious succulents, especially because succulents cannot thrive in regular potting soil. When in doubt, you should make your own soil for your succulents rather than purchasing soil that won’t be quite right. Once you’ve created the perfect soil for your succulents, then you can sit back and enjoy watching as they thrive. 

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