Caring for succulents can be tricky when getting started. Potting soil is a key factor in ensuring longevity in your new plant. Indoor succulents grow best in porous, sandy potting soil that drains well.
The original soil a succulent comes with may not be the best potting soil for the succulent species. When dealing with succulents and cacti, root rot is a common issue. To avoid root rot, the plant should not sit in overly moist soil — the roots need proper drainage.
There are many potting soils to choose from; a few factors to consider when selecting the best soil include cost, minerals, and nutrients. Look for these key ingredients when purchasing or mixing your own potting soil — ensuring the plant receives the best minerals and nutrients.
Perlite is a naturally occurring mineral added to succulent soil because of its porosity — the high level of porosity allows it to absorb water and improve drainage for the succulent.
- It looks like small, white Styrofoam but is actually expanded volcanic glass.
- When it expands, perlite becomes more porous — increasing the aeration and drainage in the soil.
- Perlite prevents root rot by ensuring the roots never sit in damp soil.
To ensure succulents drain water quickly, select potting soil with coarse sand. Coarse sand is thicker than traditional sand, creating more pathways for water to move through the soil.
- Coarse sand allows the succulent roots to dig deeper and create a solid foundation.
- We recommend avoiding sand from the garden, beach, or sandbox — this can include unwanted bacteria and bugs.
Horticultural grit is a small grouping of rocks, mineral debris, and large grains of sand. It is becoming increasingly popular due to the increased aeration of the soil. Many plant owners and gardeners incorporate horticultural grit in their potting soil.
- It helps improve the overall structure of the soil — grit helps your plants grow sturdy.
- Due to its organic nature, it also delivers a nutritional boost to your plants and regulates the pH of the soil.
Gravel is an excellent base for your soil as it helps to ensure excess water doesn’t remain in the soil. Instead, the water will drain through the holes in the bottom of the pot.
- Add rocks or gravel to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
- For decoration, spread gravel or small pebbles on top of the soil.
- Avoid using non-porous rocks like pea gravel, river rocks, fish rocks, sand, and glass marbles — they don’t allow the soil to aerate.
This potting soil formula will work for many succulents. However, it may not apply to all. Always ask the nursery what soil mixture to use for your succulent species. Some succulent species are more resilient and can tolerate excess moisture — others will die from too much water.
Succulents thrive when potted in containers with drain holes. It may be popular to plant your succulents in a terrarium; however, if the container does not have drain holes, it is unlikely the plant will survive.
- Use a saucer to catch the excess water from the drain holes. Check the saucer each time after watering to empty the water.
- Do not assume the soil you bought your succulent with is suitable — repotting may be necessary to ensure the succulent will thrive.
- Exercise caution when repotting a succulent to avoid damaging the roots.
What is the difference between regular potting soil and succulent potting spoil?
The main differences between regular and succulent potting soil are the ingredients and the consistency. Regular potting soil retains moisture, while succulent soils should drain water.
What happens if you plant succulents in regular soil?
It is more likely that your succulent will experience root rot due to overwatering. Regular soil does not have enough aeration and drainage for the roots of succulent plants.
Can succulents be planted in pots without drain holes?
While many people choose to plant their succulents in terrariums, bowls, jars, and mugs, this is not the best environment for succulents. Even if you add your own draining rocks and soil, water will collect at the bottom and create the perfect environment for rot-causing bacteria.
How often should succulents be watered?
There is no set schedule for watering succulents. We recommend watering based on the dryness of the soil. Succulents are very easy to overwater — pay attention to each of your plants to learn the best water schedule.
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