Well draining soil for succulent container gardens

It is essential to have soil that allows water to drain away quickly in order to cultivate healthy succulents.

In this article, you will get the formula for the ideal succulent soil mix and find out where to get the necessary items.

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I prefer to cultivate my succulents in pots, both inside and outside of my home, as opposed to planting them directly in the soil.

Choosing the right soil for these containers can be difficult.

For many years, I have conducted extensive research to determine which soil type is most suitable for succulent container gardens. After experimenting with various methods, I discovered that some of them performed much better than others.

It turns out that while the proper way to water succulents is a key factor in keeping them alive (learn how to water correctly here), the kind of soil they are planted in is a much bigger contributing factor to their longevity than most people realize.

If you want to get the most out of caring for your succulents, you can take advantage of my free cheat sheet. It will show you when it’s time to give your succulents more or less water. Click here to get it – it’ll be very useful!

Criteria for “Good” Succulent Soil

Criteria for “Good” Succulent Soil

The optimal soil for succulents in pots should retain enough moisture for the plants to draw nutrients, yet drain quickly enough to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.

Succulents obtain moisture from the atmosphere rather than from direct contact with water.

Continually being submerged in damp earth leads to the roots decaying, because they are receiving an excessive amount of moisture. This results in the cells in the roots and foliage breaking down, eventually leading to the demise of the plant.

That’s unpleasant to look at.

Reformulated: Different climatic conditions can have an effect on soil moisture levels, so the kind of soil used for planting should be determined by the local environment.

The soil requirements for your succulents will be determined by the climate and environment of the region where you live and the location where you keep them.

The Perfect Indoor Succulent Soil

Previously, I mentioned that I cultivate a lot of succulents indoors. I have realized that obtaining a suitable soil mixture is essential for the wellbeing of these plants, as indoor spaces do not provide the same level of air flow as outdoor areas do when it comes to potted plants.

I strongly suggest reading the post by Al on the Garden Web Forum to gain a better understanding of the importance of particle size in well-draining soils. I learned a lot from it, particularly that a soil with a particle size of about 1/4″ or 6mm is optimal.

The recipe combines equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite, as well as a small amount of horticultural charcoal.

    One equal portion of Pine Bark Fines, Turface (an absorptive rock) and Crushed Granite.

Why it works

I recommend using this type of soil for succulents because it is well-suited to their needs. It provides the right amount of drainage, moisture, and nutrients to ensure the succulents thrive. Additionally, this soil is easy to work with and can be amended to accommodate different types of succulents.

The pine bark serves as an organic material that can retain moisture, while simultaneously allowing air to flow through its porous structure, thus ensuring ventilation. Additionally, it is slow to decompose, making it an ideal choice for long-term use. Meanwhile, Turface acts as a sponge, soaking up some of the water and slowly releasing it.

Crushed granite permits the water to travel through its tiny particles in the pot. The porous texture allows for easy drainage of water, as well as ample air circulation, avoiding the possibility of roots sitting in soggy, waterlogged soil unlike regular potting soil.

The most important aspect of the recipe is that all the particles are cut to a size of 1/4″ – it takes a lot of effort to sift through gallons of soil to achieve uniform-sized pieces!

Pre-mixed option

Creating this soil mixture on my own was difficult and very time consuming. Fortunately, Bonsai Jack now offers a pre-mixed bag of soil specifically designed for bonsai trees.

Jack is a specialist in soil, and the mixture we’ve developed for succulents is exceptional. Since 2015, I have been collaborating with Jack to refine this soil mix, and we have received glowing feedback from numerous people who have used it.

The Bonsai Jack mix is ideal for indoor succulents because the particle size and texture of the mixture have been specifically tailored for them. The particles are 1/4 inch in size, which is larger than the 1/8 inch particles that Turface usually provides.

I strongly suggest purchasing Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil for your houseplants. It is especially helpful for those who tend to water too often; the soil will help your succulents flourish! Follow this link to purchase some.

Rather than buying the “gritty mix” online, you can make it yourself using ingredients that you can find at most nurseries.

Oil-dri, a product found at most auto parts stores, is widely used by mechanics to clean up oil spills and is also known as Turface.

If you don’t have the same materials, you can use other items as a substitute. Be sure that the proportions of inorganic to organic ingredients remain the same.

For instance, combining a different type of bark with pumice will ensure that the particle size is close to 1/4″ or 6mm. It is essential to keep the particle size around this measurement.

Soil for Outdoor, Potted Succulents

If you’re cultivating succulents outside, the Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil may not be the best choice for you.

Given my limited exposure to succulents while living in Utah, where the summer months are often hot and arid, I found that the Bonsai Jack soil mix worked well outdoors, but I had to water my plants every two days.

I found that it was too hard for me to keep up with watering, so I switched to a blend of Coconut Coir and either pumice, Turface, or crushed granite, whichever I can get my hands on most easily.

    One part coconut coir mixed with one part pumice.

Mountain Crest Gardens has found success in cultivating succulents in coconut coir. This substance has an efficient water absorption capacity and an excellent drainage rate, as well as being lightweight, making the pots far easier to carry.

I found that coir was not the best choice for indoor succulents due to its slow rate of drying. However, it works well outdoors in warm, dry climates.

The inclusion of lightweight pumice facilitates faster drainage of the soil without it becoming overly arid.

What about the bagged succulent mixes at big box stores?

What about the bagged succulent mixes at big box stores?

This soil is a decent choice for succulents; however, it does not have great drainage properties and can become water repellant when totally dried out. To improve drainage, I suggest adding a rock material such as pumice, crushed granite, or perlite.

Perlite for Succulents

Using perlite in your succulent soil mix can make it lighter and drain more effectively, but it has a tendency to become powdery due to its fragile nature. Over time, the perlite is prone to crushing.

Generally, you should be replenishing your soil every two years and you should also replace the perlite at the same time.

Pumice for Succulents

General Pumice Products has become well-known for their promotion of pumice as an additive to succulent soil.

I suggest incorporating pumice into the organic soil since it is more long-lasting than perlite.

You can also put your succulents in only pumice, but make sure you watch how often you water them.

Pumice is an ideal substrate for succulents because of its highly porous structure, with numerous pockets that can absorb and hold water. In contrast to traditional potting soil, pumice does not feel overly wet and provides more air circulation around the particles, similar to a gritty mix.

However, since it retains a lot of moisture, it’s important to make sure the soil has dried out completely before you water your succulents again.

Sand in Succulent Soil

Succulent soil recipes benefit from the use of large-grained sand, which should have particles measuring at least 1/4 inch (6mm) in size.

An alternative way to say this is: By using a thick, fine-grained sand, like beach sand, it can actually hinder soil drainage due to its density, which can cause the roots to be deprived of oxygen.

Do I need to repot my succulents right now?

If the soil your succulents are currently in is working for them, then hold off on repotting them. It is important to consider your climate and where you keep your plants when determining the best soil for your succulents.

Essentially, if something is successful, don’t change it.

Alternatively, if you are having difficulty with your succulents dying and don’t know what is causing it, the soil may be a potential source of the problem.

Changing the soil mix may not be a cure-all solution, however, it should help your succulents thrive since they need well-draining soil and good air circulation around their roots.

Repot new succulents in new succulent soil

Once you have acquired a fresh succulent, it is best to transfer it to new soil by repotting it and removing most of the soil from its original container. This is important as the soil from the store often leads to health issues for the succulent.

Secondly, the store-bought soil is often not ideal for succulents, and you may need to supplement it with a soil mixture that is more suitable for succulents.

Buying succulents from the store can present two primary issues. Firstly, the succulents are often root-bound, making it difficult for the roots to spread when transplanted. Secondly, the soil in which the succulents have been growing is often not suitable for them, requiring the addition of a better soil mix.

Secondly, many nurseries offer succulents in soil that is not suitable for sustained cultivation outside of a greenhouse.

In larger nurseries and growers, they usually use the same soil mixture for all their plants so that it can be suitable for most species. Initially, when succulents are small they require more water, and therefore a denser soil like regular potting soil works best.

However, if a succulent remains in this soil for an extended period, it can quickly result in decay, or in some cases, deprive it of the necessary hydration.

Most potting soils contain peat moss as their main component. When fully dried out, the moss has a tendency to repel water.

If you don’t allow the water to soak into the peat and reach the roots of the succulent, it won’t be able to absorb it. The water will just flow down the sides of the pot and out of the bottom.

Please be sure to repot your succulents soon after buying them for optimal health. The new soil will provide them with the necessary nutrients and space for the roots to grow.

Do you believe it?

The quality of the soil you select for your succulent is as vital as how often you water it.

Take the time to assess the soil you use for your succulents and consider if you need to switch it up. If you haven’t already, get your hands on my free guide for understanding when your succulents need more or less water. Just click here to download it.


What is the best soil mix for succulents?

What is the best well draining potting soil for succulents?

For optimal succulent growth, use a potting soil that has been amended with sand. The sand should be coarse to promote fast drainage. Any type of sand will work, but make sure it is not too fine.

What is a well draining potting mix for succulents?

The optimal combination of the ingredients is two parts sand, two parts gardening soil, and one part perlite or pumice. This would be equivalent to 3 cups of sand, 3 cups of gardening soil, and 1.5 cups of either perlite or pumice. The addition of either perlite or pumice helps with aeration and drainage of the soil.

What is the best soil for repotting indoor succulents?

Alternative phrase: sandy planting soil

How do you make well drained soil for succulents?

The ideal combination of the three components is 2 parts sand, 2 parts garden soil, and 1 part perlite or pumice. This translates to 3 cups of sand, 3 cups of soil, and 1.5 cups of either perlite or pumice. The inclusion of either perlite or pumice will boost aeration and drainage of the mixture.