What’s the best soil for succulents?

by Lynn KirkJul 21, 2022


Not backyard dirt. Not rich organic soil. And definitely not clay. Nope, these can pose problems and sap the health (and life!) right out of succulent plants.

So what’s the best soil for succulents? A mix that mimics the soil of their origin (environment where they first grew wild), as well as their unique needs (based on their adaptions over time). This is a big deal because the right soil is the first step in maintaining good health and growth of all plants — especially succulents.

With this in mind, the best soil for potted succulents is actually a blend that is . . .

1. Well-draining. Think about it: Most succulents are natives of the desert where the soil is predominantly sandy. Rain, when it does come, is heavy and brief. The rainwater quickly drains through the sand and away from plants’ roots. That’s why your succulent savors a soil mix with additives that make the soil gritty. Just like the desert soil, this loose texture drains well without collecting water around the base of the plant. That’s good news because if a succulent plant sits in damp soil for more than a day or two, it’s prone to root rot or fungal disease, not to mention pesky pests.

TIP: Succulents disklike “wet feet,” so when watering, make sure that the water runs freely through the soil and out the container’s drainage hole. Don’t worry: The roots can collect the water needed for fleshy-leaf retention without rotting the plant in the process.

2. Organic + inorganic matter. What’s the difference? Well, organic matter was alive at one time or another, probably rich in nutrients and micro-organisms. Potting soil, compost, and coconut coir are examples. On the opposite end of the soil spectrum are non-organic additives that never were alive, such as coarse sand, perlite, pumice, and fine gravel. A good blend of succulent soil contains BOTH organic and non-organic elements — but the ratio is what’s critical. The more organic material in the soil, the more water it holds … which is bad news for succulent plants. Yep, succulent soil should be primarily inorganic in nature.

TIP: The best soil for succulents is a ratio of about two-parts inorganic to one-part organic, making it loose and aerated yet still able to anchor the plant’s roots.

3. Less rich in nutrients. This may seem strange at first mention, but a desert-born succulent didn’t have lots of nutrients so its ‘kin’ don’t need or want them either. For example, high levels of nitrogen also lead to root rot, while too much magnesium can cause the leaves to curl and die.  Sure, it’s okay to lightly fertilize succulents during their growing and blooming season, but no need to start off with high-nutrient soil like that preferred by houseplants.

Tip: Remember that every family of plants has different requirements, including the type of soil and amount of nutrients that help them thrive.

So now you know what’s the best soil for your succulents, but where can you find it? Some gardeners make their own, but that requires buying several different products, measuring, and mixing them all.  Why not avoid the mess and the guesswork? Instead, opt for a professionally blended mix that you KNOW is right.

Over the course of 50 years, Succulent Market discovered the perfect blend of peat moss and perlite that’s guaranteed to grow and maintain the healthiest, hardiest succulents. This specially blended mix is ideal for kalanchoe, Haworthia, sedum, echeveria, crassula, and aeonium, as well as cacti. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can order the right soil that’s proven to do the right job. It’ll be shipped within a day and delivered right to your doorstep in just the right size: 1-gallon bags for ease of use and storage. Use some of the soil now, seal it up, and then keep the rest on hand for future succulent propagation and repotting.

And while you’re on the Succulent Market website, check out their plant marketplace: hundreds of varieties, all healthy, all ready to ship, and all domestically grown. Bookmark your browser, because after one order you’ll probably visit time and again!