Best Potting Mix for Succulents in Pots

All the best soil for succulents features two important properties:

  1. soil that has excellent drainage, and
  2. a consistency that is porous and sandy.

If you are a serious succulent collector, your potted succulents deserve the best soil, and only the best.

Best Soil for Succulents

So, how can you tell apart the top pre-mixed soil from just the average brands?

Or better yet, how can you mix your own succulent soil mix to guarantee your plants are receiving the soil they deserve?

Luckily for you, we are going to answer these two exact questions.

In today’s article, at the Garden Bench Top, we are doing a deep dive into all things related to potting soil and succulents. You can expect to learn:

  • why succulents need a specific type of soil,
  • which brands have the best pre-mixed soil for your succulents,
  • our top recipe for making the best soil for succulents, and
  • answers to your most frequently asked questions.

What makes the soil good for succulents?

Good soil for succulents

At the beginning of the article, we established that the best soil for succulents possesses two main benefits – drainage and porous materials. However, we didn’t explain ‘why‘ succulents love these qualities in their soil.

So, before you go get your hands dirty, let’s explore these two qualities that we so desperately need in our succulents soil.

1. Good Drainage

A soils’ ability to drain excess water is critical for a succulents’ survival.

Succulents originate from dry and arid regions that receive minimal amounts of water. And testament to mother nature’s true ingenuity, succulents have developed adaptations to survive long periods without water.

A soils’ ability to drain water is critical for a succulents’ survival

Succulents store water in various parts of their structure (stem and leaves), and therefore do not require their roots to be in constant need of water from the soil. In fact, they are so well adapted to their natural environments, they demand dry soil in order to survive.

If a succulents’ soil holds too much water (and becomes soggy soil), they are very likely to develop diseases like root rot, which will be detrimental to your plants’ health.

2. Porous and Sandy Medium

Perlite in Soil
credit: gardenbetty

The other aspect important to a succulents’ soil is that it has high concentrations of porous material (like perlite) and sand.

The main purpose of including these materials is to create a light and airy consistency in the soil, which allows the roots to breathe and absorb oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Regular potting mix soil is too dense for succulent roots to survive. Without proper aeration, the lack of gas exchange in the soil weakens the plant, leaving it susceptible to disease.

The soil needs to be light and airy, but at the same time, needs to be strong enough for the roots to grip onto and anchor the succulent.

Our Top Succulent Potting Mixes

Buying premade mixes is clean and easy. It is perfect for beginner gardeners or those that are short on time.

However, not all potting soil mixes are made equal. So, to help out our readers we have decided to put together a quick list of our favorite premade soil mixes available online.

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

The Hoffman brand is a popular choice among succulent owners, and we love it too. It is a professionally mixed soil that caters to all the succulent’s needs.

It is a perfect solution for getting your plants settled quickly – especially when you are in a rush.

In addition, Hoffman has designed the soil to have a neutral pH balance in the soil, so there is no need to worry about the acidity of your soil.

Simply open and pour.

All Natural Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix by Perfect Plants

This particular brand of succulent soil by Perfect Plants is a great option for premade soils.

As it should, the natural succulent soil has all the necessary water drainage properties and aeration that a succulent demands.

What makes this stand apart from the others is the freshness and organic nature of the soil, which tends to give a more natural look to the soil. It also helps in delivering various minerals and nutrients to your succulents, that other soils may not provide.

Finally, the soil comes packaged in an zip lock bag, which is perfect for storage purposes. This is ideal for those green thumbs that live in apartments and may not have the necessary outdoor storage that a traditional house would have.

Espoma Organic Cactus Potting Soil Mix

Espoma delivers a quality potting soil mix for succulents. It comes with all the usual water drainage and aeration properties necessary for succulents.

But where Espoma have made a point of difference is the organic components within their succulent soil. There are no synthetic plant foods or chemicals, meaning your succulent is completely organic – just the way nature intended.

Finally, this particular potting mix contains a proprietary mix of ecto and endo mycorrhiza, which is a particular fungus which is associated with the development of plants roots. It helps the roots to absorb moisture and nutrients more efficiently, resulting in a happier, healthier plant.

How to Make Your Own DIY Succulent Soil

DIY succulent Soil

When you begin making your own potting soil for your plants, you know you have levelled up your gardening game.

It can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for your plants. They will notice the difference, and consequently, you will notice a difference when your succulents are healthy and are responding positively.

Benefits Of Making Your Own DIY Succulent Soil Mix

For us, the biggest benefit of making your own DIY succulent soil mix is knowing exactly what is going into your soil.

Yes – premade potting mix is easier and quicker, but making your own removes the guessing game of wondering what you are feeding your plants. Plus, it helps avoid those nasty surprises of finding a piece of stray metal or plastic in a bag of potting mix?

Another benefit is you can adjust the water retention properties of the soil according to your needs. And as we learned above, proper drainage is critical for succulents to thrive.

The final benefit we think is important to highlight is making your own DIY succulent soil is often cheaper than buying premade commercial brands. And saving a few dollars here and there means you can add more succulents to your collection!

So, are you ready to get your hands dirty?

Materials Required

To get started, you will need:

  • Large mixing container (or if mixing large quantities, use a tarp to place on the ground)
  • trowel for mixing (or clean set of gloves)
  • Small Container (to measure out volume)

Best Soil for Succulents Ingredients Recipe

Making your own DIY succulent Soil

In this section we’ll disclose our favorite succulent soil recipe.

However, before we do, we feel it is important to explain some of the terminology we are going to be using.

Part(s) – is in reference to the ratio (or amount) of material you use. This is where the measuring container comes in handy. It is your as the reference point for your ‘part’ measurement. In this recipe, ONE FULL measuring container is equal to 1 part.

Okay, that’s enough science talk, let’s get our hands dirty.

Our recipe:

  • 3 Parts Regular Potting Soil,
  • 2 Parts Porous Material, and
  • 1.25 Parts Sand.

Additional Notes on Materials

Regular Potting Soil – you can use any regular potting soil. However, we recommend avoiding heavier soils that contain organic matter that have water retention properties (like coconut coir, peat moss or vermiculite). Succulents require well-draining soil, not soil that holds water.

Porous Material – you can use any porous materials that usually form a gardener’s regular arsenal of soil mixing components. We like to use perlite or pumice in our succulent soils.

Sand – we tend to use a coarse sand grain, rather than the finer sand. This is to help create space for water to run through the soil and drain out the bottom.

Steps to Making Your Own DIY Succulent Soil Mix

  1. The first step is to measure out the ratios of the materials using the above recipe. If you are making larger batches of soil for your succulents, feel free to double or even triple the recipe’s portions.
  2. Pour all your growing mediums into the mixing container and begin combining using a folding technique with your trowel. Or if you’re like us at the Garden Bench Top, dig your hands in and get them dirty. Make sure you get right down to the bottom to ensure an even mix of the soil.
  3. It is as simple as that. You have just created the best soil for indoor plants with your own hands in under 10 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions for the Best Soil for Succulents

In this section we attempt to answer all your ‘other’ questions that may not be addressed in our guide.

If you cannot find the answer to your question, please reach out to us via our contact page and we;’ll be sure to respond as soon as we can. We’ll even feature your question in this FAQ section so other fellow green thumbs can benefit.

Can you use regular potting soil for succulents?

Using regular potting soil for your succulents can work in some limited circumstances.

For example, if you have small succulent plants with shallow roots, regular potting soil will suffice. However, larger, more mature succulent plants may develop root rot in regular potting mix due to the soil being denser and holding water for longer periods.

We recommend picking up a succulent specific premade soil (or making your own soil) for your succulents to ensure their longevity and to avoid future issues.

What if my succulent is in regular potting soil?

In the short term, your succulent should be absolutely fine. However, keeping a mature succulent in regular potting soil may lead to diseases and your plant slowly weakening, as it struggles to extract the necessary gases and nutrients from the soil.

We recommend repotting your plant into a more suitable soil made specifically for succulents. You can select any option from our list in this article, or if you feel adventurous, try making your own succulent soil.

How do you know if the soil drainage is perfect for succulents?

This one is easy.

When you are watering the soil around your succulent, you should be able to see the water drain out from your pots’ drainage hole shortly after you added the water.

If it takes too long, the soil may be retaining too much water. In which case, it would be a good idea to add more porous material and coarse sand to the soil mix.

Is It Possible To Grow Succulents in the Sand?

Technically, it is possible to grow succulents in sand, and only sand. As long as you are providing enough water and fertilizer for the plant to survive, succulents will be just fine.

However, in our experience, sand only soils (if you can call it that), don’t provide enough stability and soil structure for the succulents roots to anchor themselves down. This means, they can be uprooted easily.

To resolve this, we like to include other materials like perlite and pumice.

Is It Possible To Grow Succulents Just on Rocks?

Attempting to grow succulents (not air plants) on rocks alone is achievable, but it can be a challenge.

Because rocks do not hold any moisture whatsoever, you will need to constantly water your succulent so that it can continue to grow.

The other issue, similar to sand only soils, is that the succulent may not have anything to anchor itself to, leaving it open to being dislodged or blown off it’s position.

Is It Possible for Succulents To Recover From Root Rot?

Root rot is a common problem in the succulent world. It is the cause of many succulent owner’s hearts, and one of the few effective ways to stopping the disease is prevention.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to spot root rot in its early stages of development in succulents. Succulent leaves often obscure the view of the stem and don’t show any visible signs of the disease. Once root rot sets into the stem of a succulent, it is very hard to reverse the disease.

As we said earlier, prevention is the key. Using a soil that has good drainage and porous materials will go a long way to preventing any issues of root rot.