Succulent Soil Secrets: What Every Plant Parent Needs to Know

When it comes to succulent soil, there are a few secrets that every plant parent should know. Here are some important tips.
A succulent soil.

A succulent garden can be a source of great pride and accomplishment. Nothing feels good like caring for succulent plants and watching them flourish. And the most exciting part is that succulents are tough and need little maintenance to thrive. However, the biggest secret to landscaping with succulents is to use the right succulent soil. You must create a perfect potting mix for your plants to help them stay happy and healthy. The soil requirements for these plants are unique and may differ from the other plants in your garden.

So, what are the top succulent soil secrets that every parent plant must know? The most important thing you must know is that all succulents need a well-draining potting mix to thrive. Their ability to withstand drought makes them highly susceptible to rot if left in wet soil. The three main components of good succulent soil are sand, regular soil, and pumice or perlite. The ratio of these three ingredients varies depending on the type of succulent that you have. The key succulent soil factors include organic vs. mineral, texture, and porosity. Common succulent soil problems include soil compaction and excessive nutrients.

This blog post highlights some of the top succulent soil secrets every gardener must know. Read on to learn more.

What Is Succulent Soil? A Quick Overview

Before diving into succulent soil’s secrets, let’s quickly review what it is. Succulent soil is a mixture of different ingredients that create an environment conducive to growing succulents.

It usually comprises three main components: sand, regular soil, and pumice or perlite. Sand helps with drainage, while the organic matter provides nutrition and retains moisture. The pumice or perlite improves air circulation and drainage.

The ratio of each component will depend on the type of succulent you’re growing; some prefer more sand, while others need more organic matter. Getting the right mix of ingredients is essential for healthy plants.

A soil.
Succulent soil is a mixture of different ingredients.

Succulent soil differs from regular soil because it has a looser texture, allowing for better drainage. It also contains fewer nutrients and is more alkaline, essential for succulents to survive.

Understanding the Key Components of Succulent Soil

As highlighted above, the three critical components of succulent soil are coarse sand, potting soil, and perlite/pumice. Below we discuss each of the components in detail:

Coarse Sand

Coarse sand is crucial to every succulent soil mix because it helps improve drainage and soil aeration. It also provides the grainy texture that many succulents love.

Avoid using fine sand in your succulent soil recipe because it won’t enhance drainage. If you cannot find coarse sand, use medium coarse for optimal drainage.

Potting Soil

Even though you will only use a small portion of it, potting soil is still essential to succulent soil since it provides organic matter.

It helps retain moisture and nutrients for succulents, which coarse sand cannot do.

Be sure to choose potting soil that is well-draining for your succulent soil recipe. Feel free to go for standard houseplant mix; you will mix it with coarse sand and perlite.

A sansevieria cutting and a potting soil.
Be sure to choose potting soil that is well-draining for your succulent soil recipe.

Avoid using heavy black gardening soil or houseplant mixes formulated explicitly for water retention.


Perlite or pumice is vital in succulent soil because it helps to improve drainage and aeration. This component is also essential in providing structure to the succulent soil mix since it has a porous texture.

Pumice is a volcanic rock with high porosity, allowing for better aeration and drainage. It also contains some minerals, which can provide additional nutrition to succulents.

A soil with perlite.
This component is also essential in providing structure to the succulent soil mix.

Perlite is made from expanded glass and is the most commonly used soil amendment for succulent soils. It helps to break up clay-like soils and loosen them up.

Top Succulent Soil Secrets

Now that you understand what succulent soil is all about, here are some important secrets to keep in mind when creating the right mix for your succulents:

Organic vs. Mineral

Every soil type is usually made up of mineral and organic components. Organic components refer to things that were once alive before dying and decomposing.

For instance, tree bark and other plant debris in the soil are considered organic matter. The primary purpose of organic soil components is to provide nutrients and store water.

Minerals refer to the natural inorganic substances found in the soil, such as gravel. The primary purpose of mineral components in the soil is to enhance drainage.

It is crucial to have the correct ratio of organic and mineral components in succulent soil to support plant growth and prevent potential rot.

The right balance of these components allows you to water your succulents profoundly but infrequently.

Typically, the mineral component should range from 40% to 70%, while the organic component should be between 30% to 60%.

The exact ratio will depend on other environmental factors and the succulent species you intend to grow.

Fortunately, there are many organic and mineral soil ingredients to choose from while making succulent soil.

For organic matter, feel free to go for coconut coir, regular potting soil, compost, or even pine bark. For mineral components include volcanic rock, perlite, sand, chicken grit, and fine gravel.

Texture and Porosity

The texture of succulent soil is crucial for drainage. Combining the components in your soil should have a looser texture, allowing water to drain quickly. If the soil feels too dense or compacted, it can lead to root rot and other issues.

Porosity is also an important factor when creating succulent soil. The soil should be porous to allow air circulation; this helps the roots get oxygen when needed.

Fortunately, you can perform a few simple tests at home to establish the texture of your succulent soil.

Fertilizer on the soil mix.
Combining the components in your soil should have a looser texture, allowing water to drain quickly.

A good test is to mix the soil with water and observe how quickly the water drains out. If it takes a long time, your succulent soil might be too compacted and needs more organic matter.

Know Your Succulents

Different types of succulents have different preferences when it comes to soil. Knowing the succulent you plan to grow is essential to create the perfect soil mix for them.

For instance, tropical succulents like Haworthia and Gasteria prefer more organic matter, while cacti such as Echinopsis prefer a looser, sandier texture with less organic matter. Research your succulent type beforehand and adjust the soil mix accordingly.

Common Succulent Soil Problems

Several issues can arise when making succulent soil. The most common problems are soil compaction and too many nutrients in the soil.

Soil Compaction

If you water your succulent and notice that the water drains straight through the growing pot without the potting mix absorbing any of it, you may be dealing with highly compacted soil.

Soil compaction is rare in succulent soil but can still occur because of heavy clay or too much organic matter.

To fix this, amend the soil with more mineral components to loosen it up and allow for better drainage.

However, a more permanent solution would be repotting your succulent with a new potting mix. Ensure the new soil has plenty of coarse sand and perlite/pumice to prevent compaction problems in the future.

Too Many Nutrients

If your succulent is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, such as yellowing leaves, the problem could be due to an imbalance of nutrients in the soil. This is usually caused by too much fertilizer in the soil or using potting mix with too many nutrients.

If this happens, flush your succulent roots with water for about 15 minutes to remove excess nutrients and adjust the pH level if necessary.

Repotting succulents in a fresh potting mix with low nutrient content is also good.

Can I Make My Own Succulent Soil?

Yes, you can make succulent soil at home. All you need to do is mix various organic and mineral components in the right ratio, giving you the perfect mix for growing healthy, happy succulents.

Getting the exact ratio of components that works best for your succulent species may take trial and error, but having the right ingredients is essential.

Tips For Making the Perfect Succulent Soil

Here are some tips to keep in mind while making your succulent soil:

Coconut fiber and soil.
Do your research and know the preferences of each type of succulent.
  • Always use a standard houseplant mix and adjust the texture with coarse sand, perlite/pumice, and other components.
  • Adjust the mineral-to-organic matter ratio depending on the succulent you are growing.
  • Test the soil texture before planting your succulent. If it feels too dense, amend it with organic matter as needed.
  • Do your research and know the preferences of each type of succulent. Their different requirements can help you create the perfect soil mix for them.
  • Keep a close eye on your succulents and look for signs of nutrient deficiency or overly compacted soil.

Final Thoughts

Succulent soil is a mix of mineral and organic components that provide the right balance of drainage and nutrients for succulents.

Depending on the succulent you plan to grow, it needs to be porous and have the right mineral-to-organic matter ratio.

These tips will ensure your succulents get the best soil for a healthy and thriving life.

Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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