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Published on October 3rd, 2018 | by ozlem

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Succulent Soil Guide: Buy or Mix Yourself?

We all adore succulents without any doubt. We always want to be sure that we give them the best care as well as we can.

Are you struggling to keep your succulents alive even though you think you are doing everything correctly? Maybe you should consider going back to the very first step: the soil

Before anything else, succulents need to be provided the specific conditions to stay alive. A nest near the window side with sunlight, a pot with good draining holes to sit inside and a soil that the roots will love to grow in; your plant will be delighted!

So why don’t you start with giving your succulents the right type of soil that they will live happily ever after?

Why do Succulents Need a Special Type of Soil?

Always remember that succulents are originally desert plants. They were created to maintain their lives in a hot and arid climate. Not much like our homes, offices or gardens, right?

Nothing can affect your succulents worse than a soil that stays wet for a long time.

Should I even mention that it doesn’t rain quite a lot of time in the desert? And when it rains, the desert soil doesn’t hold the water inside because it is hot and sandy.

How to Keep the Soil Dry

Succulents have to store as much amount of the water as they can in an instance of a rain and they save it for a long drought period that is about to come next.

They don’t have much of a choice. That is why they require watering occasionally. Water them a good amount once in a while, and this should give them what they need.

An excess amount of water will harm succulents super quick, while they have amazing survival skills against draught.

If you have confusions about when to water your succulent, many would say it is better to give less water rather than facing up with rotten roots and leaves.

The other trick about providing a balanced humid for the soil is using a pot with drainage holes that work well. Believe me, a good pot will save you from a lot of worries.

Are you still feeling a little insecure about how to care for indoor succulents? Check out my beginner’s guide covering all the info you might need.

There is one last parameter affects the soil selection for the succulents. There are a huge variety of succulent types. One species might not like the same blend of the soil or watering period as the other one, also depending on whether they live indoors or outdoors, warm climate or cold climate.

This is, of course, something you must try and see. Sure, you will find out in time what your plant likes.

What do you Need to Consider Choosing a Succulent Soil?

Drainage is the keyword you should always keep in mind. To achieve that, you will need a special type of soil mix which will let the water go through its pores. It should absorb water for a short duration of time and drain out fast so that the roots and the leaves will not rot.

Shortly, you are seeking bigger grains and less humid soil that holds water. Which means you can not plant the succulents in potting soils prepared for the common houseplants.

Also, the soil should be airy so that it allows the roots to breathe.

The ones that tend to compact are no good to use for succulents. In addition, most of the potting and gardening soils are too much nutrient for the succulent plants. Strange, but more nutrition than enough will cause your succulents to be fragile and unpleasant.

Still, a good quality gardening soil will be the main volume of your succulent soil mix together with coarse sand and perlite. Perlite or charcoal help the aeration and maintain a nutrient level of the soil by absorbing the nutrition to be released when in need.

These are the essentials and they can be diversified with turf, pebbles, crushed marble or granite, pumice, coconut, pine bark, and so on…

Here is the good news. You can easily find specially mixed potting soils ready to use right away and probably will work for you. And you know what is better than that? You always have the other option which is you simply DIY.

Best Succulent Soils You Can Buy Online

So, are you going to take the easy way out? I am sure that your local flower shop will give the best advice about what type of soil mix to pick up for the beginning.

However, I get lost in tons of options all the time when it comes to online purchasing. That is why I researched some of the best liked pre-mixed soil blends for you.

Let’s have a quick look at 5 of them

1) Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix by Superfly Bonsai

This ready to use mix comes in a zip bag, containing 1/4 Hard Japanese Akadama – 1/4 USA Pumice – 1/4 New Zealand Pine Bark and 1/4 USA Haydite.

The formula offers an excellent drainage and water retention. An additional idea is placing pebbles in the bottom of the soil mix.

2) Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil

Light-weight, well-draining, the nutrient soil is a mixture of sand, volcanic pumice, worm castings, blood and bone meal, peat moss, and perlite. It can be purchased up to 6 gallons.

3) Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix – Classic Blend by rePotme

The hand-crafted mix is resistant to many pathogens and insects. It includes coir, perlite, pumice, sand, and stalite.

Pumice rock and stalite are combined to provide the drainage. It is said that the coir based mix is resistant to fungus. It is recommended for plumeria as well and also for Christmas Cactus.

4) Succulent Soil Mix by Perfect Plants 4quarts

This organic mix promising the balance of air and moisture while retaining nutrients. Soil mix includes organic peat moss, composted pine bark, perlite, and lime.

5) Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

The professional formula of Hoffman is ready to use and pH balanced. The ingredients as listed on the package are Canadian sphagnum peat moss, reed sedge peat, perlite, sand, limestone as the pH adjuster.

How to Mix Your own Soil?

If you want to mix your own soil, which I usually do, you have options. DIY is cheap, full of fun and most of all much more reliable when I talk about my plants.

It is super easy! Get the right ingredients and mix your succulent soil just the way you would like to. You have the control over it. There is always the chance to modify the recipe.

The pre-made soil blends will be more expensive than what you pay for the ingredients of it. Besides, the ingredients can be easily found online or in the local shop.

Over the years, I tried countless formulas for preparing succulents soil at home. But I’m sharing the most basic method I use the most. So, I thought this way is the easiest for you particularly if you are just beginning to learn about succulent care.

The formula is as follows:

  1. potting soil (60%)
  2. perlite (15%)
  3. coarse sand (25%)

Potting Soil

Any kind of potting soil for every purpose will be useful as a base of the mix. But, there is a but:

I would say a strict no to any type of potting soil that keeps moisture and offers to hold water better than the others.

It is better if you could find a type which is lightweight and porous. Easy compacting heavy gardening soils are not exactly what we want.

Perlite

Perlite works great for holding the soil enlarged. It makes a huge improvement in draining the soil.

It is a natural, organic, light weighted addition to the blend which prevents roots of the plant hold more water than they actually need.

Coarse Sand

Adding the coarse sand will be important to make the succulent soil function very well. It is the best to mimic desert soil which is practically sand.

I don’t recommend you to use the beach or garden sand for hygienic concerns. An alternative to coarse sand could be turface or poultry grit.

You got Your Succulent Soil!

Nothing left to do other than putting them all together. Make sure you measure the ingredients so the next time you will be able to make arrangements depending on your observations. It is always possible to add in and out.

Before potting the succulents in the soil, I always try to make sure that the soil is not too moisturized. A wooden stick will help you to understand if it is too humid.

There you have the perfect homemade succulent soil. Water it in and enjoy while the gorgeous succulents grow in their excellent setting.

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