If you ever tried to start a succulent garden you know how hard it is to choose the best soil for succulents in pots. I have tried a lot and failed a lot in this regard.
Finally I succeeded and now I know how to choose the correct soil type. So I am happy to share my experiences with how to choose the best soil for succulents in pots in this article.
Best soil for succulents in pots
Succulents generally require a well-draining potting mix.
That is the most significant factor you need to consider. Let us dig deep on this subject and see what exactly the best soil type for the succulents is.
Many succulents’ most faced the over watering problem. Therefore, it is essential to have a well-draining soil mix for the succulents.
Moreover it has to be a porous soil. That will be beneficial to avoid any potential over watering.
Basically, a right soil mix would supply the following three roles for the succulents.
- Right soil mix acts as the source of the nutrient supplier. For example, nitrogen and phosphorus.
- It would be an anchor for the plant. Literally, it is vital that the soil need soil with substance which would help to dig in and stabilize the plant.
- Further a right soil mix would help to absorb moisture for the plant too. There could be numerous soil types which would retain water for variable periods.
To elaborate more on the draining factor of the soil, it is the speed of water moving through away from the soil.
When you water a succulent, ideally water needs to exist from the pot. However, chances are that water could retain in the pot in most of the cases.
As you may already understand, it is essential to provide a different soil mix for succulents compared to the rest of the plants.
In other words, if we take the regular plants, they are quite used to growing in areas where there is a lot of rainfall available along with high humidity levels.
They also usually comprise a soil mix which includes nutrients.
However, if we take succulents, they usually grow in areas where they do not get enough rainfall. In most cases they usually grow in poor soil conditions.
However, that dirt usually contains coarse and gritty and they are not enriched with lots of nutrients.
As such when you are growing succulents, you need to always mimic their natural growing conditions when you grow them.
Importance of soil to succulent
Even though succulents usually grow in above conditions, it is important that you provide them a growing medium which is most importantly well-draining, and which has a correct structure and some nutrients.
These are three important facts which should be included in a potting mix. Unless, growing succulents would be somewhat challenging.
It is important that the plant roots need to anchor in the soil and provide the support for the turgid plant to stay firm.
Moreover, the soil needs to be firm and should have a good aeration which would consequently allow it to make a healthy root system.
Soil and water are two most crucial factors which have a close relationship when it comes to growing succulents.
You need to have the right soil mix to get the best outcome if you water them properly. It is essential that the soil conserve some water for the moisturizing purpose as well as for supplying oxygen.
In other words, the soil needs to hydrate the plants. Unless it would be really suffocating them.
On the other hand, there are some instances where some potted succulents tend to remain lanky when they run short of proper nutrients.
Hence it is important that you provide them with a growing medium which consists of minerals and that would be beneficial for the plants to survive well.
Factors to consider
Organic vs inorganic
Usually, the soil comprises two factors, and they are organic substances and inorganic substances.
Organic substances literally are elements which are dead, but which were alive before. Some examples of organic elements are as follows.
- Peat or sphagnum moss
- Decomposing plants or animals
- Coconut coir
- Leaf or bark shreds
When it comes to inorganic substances, those were the elements which were dead and never stayed alive at any given point of time.
Dirt literally consists of minerals, and it further consists of elements such as clay, silt and sand. You could add both organic elements and inorganic elements and you will end up having a soil mix.
Organic substances could retain more water in them. As such the more it contains in a soi mix, it will retain more water in the mix and does not have a good drainage.
As such, the less organic component you have in a soil mix would be the best to grow succulents.
Texture is basically how the soil mineral component is categorized depending on the grit size.
There are three main components in this, and they are Sand, Slit and finally clay in accordance with the largest size to the smallest.
Those components are attributed for the water draining speed and for the water storage in the soil as well.
Sandy soil which has larger elements and pores tend to dry rapidly when compared to the clay soil. So Sandy soil is good for the succulents.
There are a couple of tests which you could conduct to check on the texture of the soil. Ideally, you need to have a 50 % sandy loam and 80% coarse sand in a soil mix for outdoor succulents.
Instead of coarse sand, you may use gravel as well. In terms of providing a right texture for potted succulents, you need to make sure that you add coarse grit minerals 1/8 to 1/4 in diameter.
Once you adhere to these guidelines, it will lead for faster drainage, and which will consequently help the succulents from rotting.
Porosity could be variable depending on the material of the pots and the containers are made of. They would have various kinds of features and would help to conserve water on numerous levels.
If you take plastic, bottle and glazed ceramic, they could usually lose their moisture only through their soil surface since those materials are resistant to water.
In this circumstance you need to water them less often.
On the other hand, if we take terracotta pots, they are porous materials, and they have a high potential of releasing moisture on all sides.
As such you could water them more often. That will help to avoid over watering as well. You could select pots as you wish.
However, having said that, you have to always keep in mind that you need to provide the best growing conditions as well.
Above all, it is very significant to have at least one draining hole of the pot base which would allow the water to move through.
How to make a good succulent soil mixture in a pot?
You could use a mix of both cactus potting mix and perlite at a ratio of 1:1 or even at a ratio of 2:1.
Further you could consider adding coarse sand also which would fasten the drainage. Ideally, it has to be a (1:1:1 solution of potting mix perlite and coarse sand).
Keep in mind that you need to use a porous pot especially if your surrounding area has a high level of humidity so that all additional water could move through.
You could do the following steps when making a good succulent mix.
- Add appropriate potting mix for the pot
- Take out the plants from the pots
- Get rid of the old soil from the plant by simply shaking it. When you shake the plant, it will loosen up the root ball.
- You could add some potting soil in the pot and plant them in the pot. After that you may add the potting soil more and make sure the plant is stable in the pot.
- You could even consider adding a topsoil also. Once you add them it will give a finishing look for the pot. You could do that only if you wish to do so.
- Proceed with watering the plant now. Further, do not water them again unless the soil is dry. It could take some days to dry the soil and after that only you could water them again.
DIY Soil recipes
Before proceeding with the recipe, let us have a look on the benefits of using a DIY soil recipe. It is not costly, and anybody could afford to do it.
Further you have the liberty of controlling the ingredients in it too. What is more interesting in using this is that you would be rewarded with the perfect soil mix if you apply this method.
The reason for that is you could control the ingredients in it and you could modify the succulent soil recipe based on that.
That feature makes this a perfect soil mix. To do this, you could arrange the following elements,
2 parts of potting soil – Main purpose of this is to provide the essential nutrients for the plant.
2 parts of coarse sand – This will make the potting soil less compact and better the draining as well.
1 part of perlite or even pumice – Helpful to better the aeration in the soil mix and to fasten the draining. Moreover, it would be useful to hold on to nutrients as well as for moisture too. If you use both and make the soil mix, it will make the soil mix even more better.
To do this, you could moisten the potting soil lightly. After that you could apply the sand and mix deeply while using your hands only.
As the final step, you need to apply in the perlite or pumice. Stir it thoroughly until the mixture becomes uniform and you are done!
Should I use the same soil for repotting?
You could use the same potting soil again only if the plant in which it was growing was healthy.
Having said that, though the older succulent appears to be healthy and if you spot any bug or pest was present in the pot, it is always best to sterilize the mix and after that only you should use it.
That will avoid any potential infection in the future. As experts have stated, Prevention is always better than cure.
How to feed soil in a pot?
You could use worm castings for this purpose. Best would be to use the earthworms who are alive and healthy. It will help to balance the soil ph. of the succulents also.
How to choose a good commercial soil mix?
You need to make sure that whatever the commercial soil mix you wish to have should contain a lot of inorganic elements along with sufficient organic materials as well.
Moreover it has to be a well draining soil mix too. I could suggest Black Gold cactus mix by sun or horticulture as a good option for this purpose.