Succulent Potting Soil: What Your Plants Really Need

Succulents are a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens, but to keep them healthy and thriving, you need to make sure you’re using the right potting soil. In this article, we’ll explore the specific requirements for succulent potting soil and why it’s different from other types of potting soil. We’ll also look at why you might want to make your own potting mix as well as how you can make your own.

Understanding the Basics of Succulent Potting Soil

Succulents have unique growing requirements compared to other plants. They have thick leaves and stems that store water, allowing them to survive in harsh, dry environments. Because of this, succulents don’t need soil that retains a lot of moisture. Instead, they need well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape, preventing root rot.

Having the right soil for your succulents is crucial

What to Look for in Succulent Potting Soil

Choosing the right potting soil for your succulent is vitally important, in part because overwatering is the single biggest killer of succulents and this can, to some extent, be fixed by using the right soil.

When looking for the right potting soil for your succulents, you should look for a mix that contains a high amount of grit and/or perlite. This will help to ensure the soil drains quickly and properly, while also providing plenty of aeration for your plant’s roots. In addition to the potting soil you should also consider adding a layer of rocks or gravel to the bottom of your pot, again this will help to increase drainage.

You might think that organic matter will help to give your succulent plenty of nutrients, but when it comes to succulents this is something that you should try and avoid if possible. Soil that has a lot of organic matter will retain a lot more water, something which can lead to root rot. Instead, look for a soil mix that contains inorganic materials like sand, perlite, and pumice.

Can I make my own succulent potting soil?

If you’ve ever thought about making your own potting mix for your succulents (or any other plant for that matter) then you’ll be pleased to know that not only can you make potting soil but it is actually better to make your own.

The two main advantages of making your own potting soil are the price and the ingredients. With ready-made mixes, you’re paying, in part, for the convenience of having somebody else mix it for you so if you do that part yourself you can save yourself quite a bit. On top of saving money, by mixing your own potting soil you can control extolls what (and how much) goes into it. Need more drainage, no problem add more sand or perlite, plants giving off a bad odor, add some charcoal.

Making your own succulent potting soil is cheaper than buying it

How to Make Your Own Succulent Potting Soil

Over the many decades I’ve been growing succulents I’ve tried so many different types of potting soil that in the end, I decided to try making my own. This led to a long period of trial and error but eventually, I came up with the right mixture that I found worked every time, regardless of what type of succulent I’m growing.

The main ingredients you need to make your own potting soil are:

Potting soil (base)

I’ve found that most potting soil is suitable as a base for homemade mixes as long as it doesn’t contain vermiculite. This is often added to gardening soil so that it can retain more water, something your succulent definitely doesn’t need.

Sand or coarse grit

Any sand will do but the coarser it is the better as this will help to aid its ability to drain water. The only thing I’d say about sand though is don’t be tempted to use it from your kid’s sandbox (or from the beach), while you may think it’s clean you don’t know what bugs or pests could be lurking below the surface.

Does your succulent have bugs? How to identify and deal with common bugs.


Like sand or grit, perlite will help to make sure your soil is draining well but it can also help aerate it, making sure your succulent (and in particular the roots) is able to breathe properly.

Coconut coir

Despite their hardy natures, succulents can be a little fussy when it comes to the soil or at least the weight of it. They don’t like heavy soil that reduces the amount of oxygen that can get to the roots which is why it’s always a good idea to add coconut coir (or coco coir as it’s sometimes called) to your mix.


Okay so technically whether or not you have any tools won’t make a difference to your potting mix but it’ll certainly make your life easier if you do have a few simple tools to hand! Unless you’ve got a great eye for measurements you’ll need some sort of container to make sure you’ve got the right quality of ingredients. I personally use an old kitchen jug but anything that allows you to get the same quantity every time is fine. You’ll also need a container to mix everything up in as well as a trowel (unless of course, you don’t mind getting your hands dirty).

When it comes to creating your own mix, simply combine the following ingredients:

  • 3 parts potting soil
  • 2 parts sand or coarse grit
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part coconut coir
Diagram: Succulent Potting Soil Recipe

Don’t worry if you make too much potting soil, simply put what you don’t use in an air tight container (so that the bugs can’t get in), then its ready for when you next need it.


By using the right potting soil for your succulents, you can ensure that they have the proper drainage and aeration they need to grow and thrive. Whether you choose a pre-made mix or make your own, be sure to choose a soil that is well-draining and low in organic matter to prevent root rot.

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