Succulents are a popular plant choice and often touted as one of the easiest plants to grow, but once many people get them home, they find that succulents are trickier than they seem. In many cases, the reason succulents are so difficult to care for is that people are used to tropical plant care and take a while to get used to succulent needs. This often leads to tragic overwatering.
One of the best lines of defense against overwatering is planting your succulent in a quality succulent potting mix. Succulent potting mixes are designed to prevent the waterlogged soil that ends up killing the plants, even in the case that you make a mistake and overwater now and again. We’ve rounded up our top picks for succulent soil so you don’t have to worry about your succulents anymore.
Best Soil for Indoor Succulents
This potting mix is pH optimized to benefit succulents that prefer acidic soil, and it’s made up of large grained particles that make for a high quality, reliable succulent soil. This mix is fast-drying and made of the best ingredients, so you know you can always count on it to safeguard the health of your succulent.
Some buyers remarked that they found this mix almost too large-grained, as they were unable to keep some of their succulents rooted during watering and couldn’t keep up with their plants’ needs, although the majority of reviewers think the mix was totally worth the investment, and many people saw an immediate improvement in their succulents’ health after switching to this soil.
All in all, the Superfly potting mix is the best soil you can get for your succulents. You can use it straight from the bag, and it does an excellent job at preventing root rot, even in coldest and darkest climates you can live in. Definitely worth the investment if you can stomach the higher price!
Overall Best Soil for Outdoor Succulents
This soil has a solid ingredients list that is mostly non-organic, mineral-based materials. With this potting mix, you can rest peacefully knowing that it has been formulated to drain quickly and give your succulent lots of oxygen around its root ball.
Buyers loved this soil. A few commented on the higher price point, but it was rare to find anyone who was unhappy with the soil after spending the money to purchase it.
Outdoor succulents are easier to care for than indoor succulents. Their soil requirements are not as strict, and you can usually use your naturally occurring soil in raised beds or rock gardens to plant them. The one big exception is if you live in areas with very clayey soil.
The clay packs, and it takes a lot of extra mineral material to make it a good medium for succulents. If you’re hoping to plant outdoor succulents and you live in an area that won’t work well for succulents, you can pot them in containers with one of the soils listed above.
Best Budget Soil for Succulents
This soil is a solid potting mix for a lower price point than the other best soils. Most buyers agree that it is a good succulent soil for gardeners on a budget, but you will have much better results if you take the time to mix it with some extra mineral content like perlite or small gravel.
How to Prepare Soil for Succulents
Prepping your own soil for succulents is quite easy. The materials are easy to find and not too costly, and the only tools you need are your pot, the ingredients, and a place to mix. For ingredients, you’ll need a combination of organic materials and mineral-based materials.
Stay far away from any materials designed to hold onto moisture for a long time, like water crystals or vermiculite. For the organic portion, you can use regular potting soil, compost, wood, coconut fiber, and the like. For the minerals, coarse sand, pumice, perlite, or small rocks would work well.
To prepare the potting mix, you can either make it in bulk or simply make the amount you need for the succulent you’re potting. If you want to make exact amounts, use the planter to estimate the total volume of potting mix you’ll need. Out of the total volume you want to make, 1/3-1/2 of it should be made up of organic material. The other 1/2-2/3 should be mineral-based material.
Stray away from mineral options that are very fine-grained. These materials may pack too closely and prevent the soil from drying out efficiently. As a rule, larger grains are better when choosing the mineral component of your succulent potting mix.
Once you’ve got your materials parsed out, simply mix them all together until everything is evenly distributed throughout the mix. At this point, the potting mix is ready to go. When potting your succulent, try to choose pots with a lot of drainage holes and those that are made of breathable material like terra cotta. This will work hand-in-hand with your new succulent potting mix to give your plant a chance to dry out and get oxygen to its roots.
What is the best medium for growing succulents?
The best growing medium for succulents is a well-draining soil mixture in a close-fitting pot. The drainage qualities are the most important feature of succulent growing mediums, so be sure to look closely as to whether the soil mixture you choose is crafted to drain easily.
Do succulents need special soil?
While many people have been able to successfully grow succulents in all soil types, most people—beginners especially—will struggle to keep succulents healthy in soil types that retain a lot of water. Soil mixes meant for tropical plants, such as those heavy in sphagnum or peat, tend to hold onto a lot of moisture to prevent the water-hungry tropicals from dying if you forget to water them every so often. While water retention can be helpful in this scenario, it can spell bad news for your succulents.
In comparison to plants from non-arid environments, succulents have smaller, delicate root balls that need a lot of aeration in the soil to be healthy. When succulents are planted in soil mixes formulated to hold onto water, the soil stays saturated for longer and oxygen has a harder time getting to the roots of the plant.
Over time, this leads to root rot and plant death. This problem can be prevented with any soil type simply by avoiding overwatering your succulents. Resisting the urge to overwater, however, is easier said than done. This is when specialized succulent soil comes in handy.
Specialized succulent soil is formulated to allow fast and efficient water drainage with little water being retained in the soil over long periods of time. People can mistakenly kill their succulents by watering too much at one time or by watering a little bit at a time too often. Both of these result in too much water ending up in the soil for too long.
The well-draining properties of succulent soil can’t make your watering habits foolproof, but it does act as a first line of defense against the occasional watering mistake, and for that reason it is generally recommended that you pot your succulents in special soil.
Can you use regular potting soil for succulents?
You can use regular potting soil for succulents, but it could make it harder to maintain your plant’s health. If you decide to use regular potting soil for your succulent, make sure to space out your watering schedule very far apart, especially if you live in a cold or humid environment, and always check the soil to make sure it is completely dry before watering. It’s also important to remember to cut back on watering during winter months.
You could also invest in a soil moisture meter to ensure the soil is dry even underneath the surface. Especially with plastic pots, sometimes the top layer of soil will appear bone-dry while the inner core of the soil is still saturated. This can be misleading and cause you to accidentally overwater your succulent. If you live in a very hot and dry environment, you can usually get away with watering your plant more often, even in plastic pots.
Regular potting soil isn’t usually recommended for succulents, but it can work if you’re in a pinch and very careful about overwatering.
Should you repot succulents?
Every plant will need to be repotted every once in a while, but succulents need such only rarely. Usually, you are repotting a plant to give its growing root ball more room to grow and stretch out. Since succulent root balls don’t grow to be very big or extend too deep into the soil, they hardly ever need to be repotted into larger pots.
Occasionally, succulents may need soil replacements to give them fresh soil if their old soil has been spent of nutrients. This can happen if the plant remains in the same soil over the course of years.
If you run into the occasion where your succulent needs to be repotted into a larger pot, be careful not to choose too large of a planter. Large masses of soil take a long time to dry out, and this can make it hard to avoid root rot for your succulent. Big pots work well for plants with big root systems that can use up the area, but they aren’t great choices for plants who don’t need all that underground space.
With soil needs down pat, you’re ready to take on succulents! There are hundreds of beautiful varieties, and with these tips, your succulent garden will be the talk of the town.