If you want your succulent to flourish, I would not recommend just grabbing any potting mix at your local gardening store. Not all soils are created equal. Buy the best soil for succulents and you will be rewarded. If you end up using a poor draining soil, you will spend countless hours and money trying to troubleshoot issues.
Our top recommendation is…
Succulents are add a splash of color and personality to any home and they are also very easy to take care of. However, you need to ensure that your succulent has the right soil and amount of water. The best potting mixes out there can go a long way in helping you grow a healthy succulent. Keep reading below to see our top recommendations. These soils drain well, have excellent aeration, and are pH balanced.
Further below, you will find a short guide in regards to the features of a good soil as well as my personal recipe for a potting mix if you want to make your own mix rather than buying a premade one.
Comparing Our Top 3 Recommendations for Succulent Soil
The Best Succulent Potting Mixes
These are our top soil recommendations for succulents in pots. These soils drain extremely well and will minimize the chances of developing root rot. They also provide great aeration and have a good organic to mineral component. Your succulents will flourish in these soils. Read more below.
Best Soil for Succulents in pots
This gritty soil mix is designed to drain quickly, which helps to prevent root rot. The soil is made up of a balanced blend of pine bark, bonsai block, and Monto clay. This mix ensures a stable, high pH, perfect for plants that enjoy a high acid content. In addition, the soil is ready to use, as it is always carefully washed and sifted before it’s bagged. Gardeners who use this soil for their succulents will find that their plants are fuller and display brighter, bolder colors. The soil also looks great in the pot and is an excellent choice for decorative plants. The soil is tested to ensure that it is pathogen free.
Bonsai Jack’s potting mix is made in the USA and uses quality ingredients. They test the soil to ensure that it does not contain any pathogens. Many other soil brands use reclaimed materials that still contain pathogens that can damage your succulents. The company provides great customer support. They believe in their product so much that they provide a satisfaction guarantee.
Out of all the potting mixes, this is by far the best one if you are looking for a gritty mix. It provides optimal drainage and aeration. It also does not skimp in the materials that it uses. I highly recommend it.
This carefully crafted soil is made from a balanced blend of volcanic pumice, blood and bone meal, perlite, sand, worm castings, and peat moss that helps to ensure that succulents are receiving the essential nutrients they need to thrive. The soil, which utilizes super fine coco coir is lightened by the pumice and perlite, also helps to promote excellent drainage and aeration while still providing good water retention. In addition, this potting mix helps to provide a stable pH for acid-loving plants such as succulents.
The potting mix itself does NOT contain coarse sand or grit that many other potting mixes utilize to promote good drainage. Rather it utilizes a super fine coco coir that almost feels like a cotton-like material. As you can imagine with cotton-like material, this allows for great aeration.
Fat Plants packages their potting mix in San Diego. The company is responsive to questions and concerns. They even add their own personal handwritten message to each order.
XGarden’s cactus soil is made of premium perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite, which help to retain water while simultaneously promoting drainage. The soil itself is lightweight and loose, so the succulent’s roots have room to expand as they grow. In addition, this soil mix’s blend helps to maintain a balanced pH. Gardeners will find that their succulents grow healthier and stronger and are much less likely to experience root rot when planted in this potting mix. If you want to make it drain even better, you can consider adding orchid bark or coco coir chips, which will also make the soil more porous.
Perfect Plants’ potting mix is organic and contains a balanced blend of sand, composted pine bark, perlite, lime, and garden coir. This blend ensures a balanced pH and also helps to deliver essential nutrients to the plant’s roots. In addition, the perlite and sand help to promote drainage and make the soil lighter, assisting in aeration. This ensures that succulents planted in this soil are much less likely to develop root rot while also giving the roots room to grow easily. Even though it is a good mix, it does seem that the water seems to sit on top of the soil before slowly being absorbed downwards. Compared to our top 2 recommended soils, it may just be lacking in drainage by a little bit.
Hoffman’s organic cactus mix is a premade mix that comes ready to use. The mix itself is relatively light weight and provides decent aeration to the roots. The only downside is that it contains peat moss, which actually will retain some moisture. This means that you can wait longer periods of time between watering. I personally find it harder to predict and think that it can make your cacti more prone to root rot. I still think it is a good potting mix, but with so many other options available I suggest you pick one of our top 3 choices instead. If you do end up using it, you can add more perlite to increase aeration and drainage.
What Makes a Good Soil for Succulents?
Succulents are hardy plants that do not require excessive care or watering. They are used to flourishing in dry climates where they may not experience rain water for weeks.
If a succulent dies under a gardener’s care, the most common reason is overwatering or poor soil. Having quality soil is vital to your succulent. You can either go about buying a quality soil mix or you can have your go at mixing your own succulent soil mix.
For succulents in pots, I highly recommend buying a quality pre-made soil mix because the mixes tend to be very well balanced and quite affordable. I will give you a mix later in this guide, but recognize that it might actually be more expensive to buy all the individual parts and there is no guarantee that your mix will be any better than a pre-made one.
Succulent Soil Drains Well
Soil that is appropriate for other plants is not appropriate for succulents. If you use the wrong type of soil, you will spend much more time trying to troubleshoot your problem. The best choice is just to start your succulent in a quality soil to forego the headaches.
A perfect soil for succulents would be one that could retain just a bit of moisture, but overall, drains well. Soils that allow too much moisture to hang around at your succulent’s roots will result in root rot. This is why having a soil that dries out fast is important.
When thinking about succulent soil, it is best to try to mimic its natural environment from which it came. Succulents tend to grow in sandy soil or soil with lots of gravel. The gritty sand or gravel allows for lots of pores in the soil, which thereby lets it dry quickly and provides good aeration.
Making Your Own Soil Mix
I encourage you to buy pre-made succulent soil mixes. They are affordable and tend to use coarse gritty materials, which are great for porous soil.
If you are set on making your own soil mix, just realize that it may create more work and end up being more expensive. It also will likely yield a lot more soil than you need.
Suggested soil mix:
Simply mix these three at a 1:1:1 ratio in a large bowl or container.
The Balance of Organic and Mineral Components
Whether you buy a pre-made soil or make your oil soil the main goal is to create something that drains fast and also has a balance between organic and mineral components. Organic components refers to something that used to be alive. Mineral, on the other hand, tends to refer to inorganic substances (not made from living organisms).
Take the pre-made mix that I gave you above. The potting soil contains high amounts of organic material. On the other hand, sand and perlite are inorganic material. The mineral content is what will help allow for more pores and aeration in your potting mix.
Your Pot Matters
Try to plant your succulent in a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom. This will allow the water to drain out rather than sit at the bottom of the pot.
Unfortunately, many of the popular terrariums that succulents are sold in these days are notorious for not having a drainage hole. They also tend to be circular and enclose the succulents, which further creates a humid environment that can be damaging to your succulent.
If you decide to stick with a pot without a draining hole, make sure to water your succulents even less frequently.
How to Water Your Succulents
To optimally water your succulents, you will want to use a method called “soak and dry”.
Basically, you want to completely soak your succulent’s soil then let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. That’s It!
When you are doing this, try not to allow water to get on the leaves of your succulents. If you can, try to do this in the morning, so that the afternoon sun can dry out the soil and any water that may have accidentally got onto your succulent. You can also use a small spout watering can to minimize the amount of water that lands on top of your succulent.
You can check out this Youtube video (not created by GreenPinky) for a quick visual guide on how to water your succulent appropriately.
Again, I recommend buying the Bonsai Jack mix. Don’t make the mistake of buying a succulent potting mix at your local gardening store that does not drain well and will lead to root rot. Save yourself the headache and buy any of the mixes above (take a particularly close look at our top 2 recommendations which drain the best).