Succulents are a type of plant with thick, fleshy parts that help them retain water in dry climates and soil conditions. Some might say that they don’t need the best soil, but every plant needs the right nutrients. It is often overlooked on the type of soil, and people then wonder why their succulent plants don’t flourish.
You need to know what requirements a succulent needs and how to get the right pH. Some people prefer to use potting or cactus soil, and we discuss whether that is going to work. Ultimately, you’re going to learn everything necessary to grow succulents in or around your home.
Table of Contents
Soil Requirements for Succulents
Succulents require soil that drains well. Regular dirt isn’t going to work here.
The soil you choose should have some perlite, pumice, or sand with it. Remember, the succulent roots are quite fragile, so be careful how you repot them.
If you’re planting the succulents outside in your garden, ensure that the area drains very well. It shouldn’t sit in a low spot that’s going to catch the rainwater and stay there.
For those who are planting succulents in containers, make sure the soil drains. To do that, it’s often best to add sand, rocks, and gravel to the mixture so that it isn’t too dense.
The pH of Soil for Succulents
Every type of potting soil and what’s on the ground has a pH level. Typically, succulents prefer a reduced pH, so you should try to get it to be about 5.5 on the scale. However, a range of anywhere between 4 and 6.5 is suitable.
You may need to lower the soil’s pH level with sulfur or aluminum sulfate. They can be bought online or from your local garden center. Aluminum sulfate works instantly to produce acidity once it dissolves in the soil.
It’s also possible to use vinegar to lower the soil’s pH. Just be careful that it doesn’t go too low.
Those who need to raise the pH levels can use baking soda, lime, or ashes. However, it might not last very long, so you may need to reapply throughout the season.
The Best Soil To Use for Succulent Plants
Ultimately, the short answer is to use any soil that is well-draining. Though there is some debate out there about soil, one thing is sure for succulents. They need proper drainage because they tolerate drought well, and extra water makes them rot.
It’s usually best to mimic the natural environment for the succulent. Wild succulents often grow in gravely, sandy soil and can thrive in rocky crevices and cliffsides. Though the gritty soil gets easily saturated by heavy rain, it can dry out fast.
With so many factors to consider, what works for you might not be ideal for another gardener. For example, indoor growers may have less airflow in the house, so they need grittier soil so that pests don’t come inside. Outdoor growers in windy, hot climates may need less porous soil, so they don’t have to water as frequently.
The rule of thumb here is to mix the soil with gravel, rocks, and sand and ensure that it’s aerated enough. Only water them when it’s absolutely necessary, and give them plenty of light.
You can be looking for the best soil for your succulents here.
Can You Use Regular Potting Soil for Succulents?
Those who have never grown succulents before wonder if they can just use regular potting soil. It’s not recommended because succulents are unique and different plants. They have special needs with regard to soil, sunlight, and water.
Garden or regular soil isn’t ideal for succulent plants as it comes out of the bag. However, you can modify it slightly to use it. Ultimately, if you’ve got a ton of garden soil already and don’t want to waste it, you can utilize it.
However, regular soil holds way too much moisture and water. That’s likely to cause root rot for succulent plants. They need something that has less moisture and is fast-draining.
In a sense, this soil helps the plants breathe. Typically, regular soil is much too compact and takes longer to dry, which is dangerous to your succulents.
Therefore, if you want to or have to use regular soil, you’ve got to add things to it so that it drains faster. This can include mineral grit, sand, gravel, and more.
Can You Use Cactus Soil for Succulents?
Cacti are one of the most popular succulent plants in the nation. There are many other types out there, so every cactus is a succulent but not every succulent is a cactus. Therefore, you might be wondering if you can use cactus soil for any succulent.
Yes, you can use cactus soil for any succulent plants. Generally, if it works for a cactus, it’s going to work for others. Cacti and other succulents require an airy growing medium and well-draining soil, and cactus mix offers that.
Most succulents are native to the desert. Since they can survive in such harsh conditions, they’ve become used to it. Typically, there’s little rainfall, and the sun evaporates whatever water there is quickly.
It’s important to understand your plant’s survival mechanisms in the natural habit so that you can give them similar conditions at home. Therefore, succulents developed a lifestyle that let them flourish in such situations. You’ve got to respect that to help them survive in your garden or home.
The soil has to be airy and drain fast, so it doesn’t hold as many nutrients. Still, succulents don’t require as many nutrients as other houseplants.
There are different soil types out there for various plantings. Each kind of mix is designed to serve a particular plant range. Producers of cactus soil used special ingredients and different properties to create a mixture that gives the few nutrients they need.
It is enough for the plant roots and provides just enough air and water. Cactus soil features high drainage compared to all-purpose soils, but it actually has a lower drainage feature when compared to orchid mix. Typically, coco coir, peat moss, perlite, sand, and pumice are used in various ratios to make it work.
How to Make Your Own Succulent Soil?
You’re going to find it easy to make your own succulent soil. However, you’re going to need specific materials and tools. These include:
- Measuring cup
- Gardening gloves
- Bucket, plastic bin, or pail
- Small shovel (trowel)
- Regular gardening soil
- Coarse sand
- Pumice or perlite
Now, you’ve got to decide how grainy you need it. Though this is more about aesthetics, you want something that looks good in your house.
Ultimately, it’s cheaper to make your own than buy a cactus mixture sold in the stores. Plus, it’s easy to make. Though there are many recipes out there, this one is simple and effective.
You’ve got to measure the ingredients to achieve the right drainage, aeration, and compactness. The best mixing ratio here is two parts of sand, one part of pumice or perlite, and two parts of gardening soil.
The amount you use is based on how many succulents you’re planting. Consider 3 cups of sand and soil (6 cups total), as well as 1.5 cups of pumice or perlite.
Perlite and pumice are used to help with drainage and aeration. Pumice holds together the moisture and nutrients, but you can use either option. Better yet, consider combining both of the ingredients to get a richer potting mix.
Sand works to make your potting mix less compact and boost drainage. The gardening soil is to give the succulents nutrients.
Once you’ve dumped everything in the container, put on your gardening gloves and start mixing. Moisten the garden soil slightly so that dust doesn’t come up into the mixing box. Then, add the sand and mix all of that thoroughly with your hands.
Now, you want to scoop in your pumice or perlite. Stir it all (either with the trowel or your hands) until the mixture looks uniform. Congratulations on your first batch of succulent soil mix!
Storing Your Leftover Succulent Soil Mix
Whether you buy it from the store or make it, you’re likely going to have a leftover succulent soil mix. Most people like to mix a big batch and keep it for later. If that’s the case, you can put the rest of it in a large plastic bucket with a lid.
Don’t pack the soil tightly. Pour it in gently or scoop it with the trowel. Once it’s all in there, put the lid on and store it on a shelf or on the floor.
You can put it in your garage, garden shed, or in the basement. If you choose a container with an airtight seal, you don’t have to worry about pests or moisture seeping into it.
Succulents are a beautiful addition to your home garden or as singular plants around the house. However, learning how to care for them is essential. The right soil is going to help them thrive in your house when they’re natural habitat is harsher than your home or climate.
You can choose to buy cactus soil and use it, but you can also make your own. This is going to save you money. Happy planting!
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