Soil is one of the most important parts of growing succulents. Good succulent soil serves two purposes, control moisture and provides nutrient that feeds your plant.
To me, a perfect succulent soil mix needs to work with the environment to promote plant health.
That’s why I always recommend DIY succulent soil for your succulents rather than using premixed succulent soil, as they are tailored to my environment and succulents.
Also, if you have a lot of succulents, the cost of buying soil can add up quickly.
In this article, we provide a simple DIY succulent soil recipe for mixing up your own succulent mix.
The Best Soil for Succulents
Choosing the right potting soil for planting succulents in containers is crucial! When readers reach out to me about problems with succulents, most of the issues they have are caused by overwatering.
Overwatering is the number one cause of death for succulents, and that is why it is super important to make sure you use the right type of soil to plant succulents.
A gritty mix, with good drainage, is the number one quality sought in soil used to grow succulents. Using a good potting mix of porous soil for succulents is super important to prevent overwatering.
The Key Elements
Succulents come from an environment that doesn’t have a lot of nutrients or water. That’s why they are succulents and have evolved to store these things inside their leaves, stems, or even their roots in some cases.
We need to recreate this environment when we make our potting mix. Below are the qualities that help make a great succulents mix and what we need to think about when we are making up our soil mix.
Succulents soil mix needs to be:
- Free draining
- not too nutrient-rich
Wait… Not too nutrient-rich?
Yes, too many nutrients like nitrogen can cause your succulents to grow too fast and be brittle or unsightly. Some succulents will even get leaf and root burn from excess nutrients.
The Ingredients of DIY Succulent Soil
Today we are going to use perlite, potting soil, and coarse sand to achieve the perfect mix. These supplies should be readily available at your local garden center or greenhouse. Here is what they look like and what they bring to the mix.
Perlite looks like this and is great for improving drainage and helps prevent the compaction of the soil, it is also a great “space filler” and helps make sure your succulents soil doesn’t hold too much water.
A person could also use vermiculite if they have some on hand but I find perlite is more of a sort of neutral additive whereas vermiculite has a lot of minerals in it which may be excess for your succulents.
Coarse sand is what can be bought as coarse sand at most home improvement stores or garden centers or Amazon. It has all sorts of sized particles and small rocks in it that, like the perlite, help prevent compaction and improve drainage in your succulents mix. It also helps mimic the kinds of sandy and rocky soils many succulents naturally grow in.
The last component of our mix today is potting soil, also known as topsoil. This brings the organic component to the soil mix and the nutrients needed for the plant to grow well. It is also slightly acidic which makes the perfect environment for the roots to grow and take up nutrients. If you are worried about weeds growing in your succulents mix make sure you buy sterilized or weed-free potting soil.
Along with your succulents potting mix ingredients, you’ll need a few other supplies to help you measure and mix your ingredients. So grab these items before getting started:
- Measuring container
- Container for mixing (I use a bucket or my tabletop potting tray to mix mine)
DIY Succulent Soil Mix Ratio
- 5 parts perlite
- 4 parts bagged potting soil
- 1 part coarse sand
- Pinch of rock dust
Mixing your DIY potting soil for succulents is super easy. All you need to do is dump everything into your mixing container (bucket, potting tray, wheelbarrow… whatever) and stir it all together.
Use a trowel, or your hands to mix it. Just make sure the ingredients are evenly mixed once you’re done.
That’s it. I told you it was easy to make your own potting soil for succulents.
Check the Moisture
This is the squeeze test. The ideal moisture level for your mix to plant in is just enough that it stays in a ball when you squeeze (see above) it but not so much that water comes out of it when you do this.
This ensures that you are not planting your succulents into already compacted and waterlogged soil and that it will not sink in too much when you give it’s first watering.
This DIY succulent soil can also be used for propagating succulents cuttings.
My succulents (and cactus plants) grow very well in my homemade potting mix for succulents, and making my own saves me tons of money (It seems like I’m always potting succulents and cactus plants!).
If you want more information about growing and caring for succulents, read my detailed succulents care guide.