Succulent Soil: What to Look For and How to Make Your Own

Key Takeaways

  • Succulent soil is soil specifically designed to allow for adequate drainage and aeration supported by soil amendments like peat moss, coarse sand, perlite, and compost.
  • Regular potting soil is not recommended for succulents because it retains too much moisture, which can lead to root rot.
  • To maintain healthy succulent soil make sure you do not overwater your succulent plant and refresh the succulent soil regularly.
  • You can make your own DIY succulent soil by mixing two parts potting soil, one part compost, one part coarse sand, and one part perlite.
  • Alternatively, we personally buy pre-mixed succulent soil* that provides all the necessary traits of a good succulent mix.
Our plants thrive with this succulent soil, click here for more information

Succulents are popular, low-maintenance plants. They are great plants for any office or home decor and require little care. However, to have healthy succulents, they need quality succulent soil.

So, what type of succulent soil is the best for your plant?

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The ideal succulent soil is a nutrient-rich, well-draining mix that supports its natural ability to withstand drought and prevent rot. These hardy plants typically prefer a pH range of 6 to 7.

The key is to strike a balance between a porous soil that allows for adequate airflow and moisture retention while preventing overwatering.

In this blog post, we will talk about:

  • key characteristics needed in good succulent soil,
  • how to make your DIY succulent soil, and
  • how to maintain and refresh your succulent soil.

Key Features to Look For in Succulent Soil

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Good succulent soil will have these three key characteristics:

  1. Well-draining: Succulent soil needs to have excellent drainage to prevent root rot. This is because succulents are prone to root rot if left in wet soil.
  2. Aeration: Succulents need soil air pockets for healthy root growth. Aerated soil helps roots absorb nutrients and avoid suffocation.
  3. Soil composition: By adding soil amendments, both organic and inorganic matter, it will make ordinary potting soil able to hold enough water, provide air pockets for ventilation, and improve soil structure and drainage.

Importance of Drainage

Succulents are known for their drought tolerance, but this also makes them susceptible to root rot when left in wet soil. As a result, proper drainage is critical to their health and growth. Excess moisture can be quickly released in well-draining soil, preventing damp conditions that lead to root rot.

Aeration in Succulent Soil

Aeration is necessary for succulent soil for healthy root growth in succulents and is accomplished by the presence of air pockets within the soil. Aerated soil allows oxygen to reach the roots, promoting optimal nutrient absorption and preventing root suffocation. Vermiculite and perlite are essential for providing the necessary aeration in succulent soil. Furthermore, for optimal growing conditions, the pH of the soil should be neutral (pH 7) or slightly acidic (pH 6 to 6.5).

Ideal Soil Composition

Good succulent soil should contain a mix of organic and inorganic materials that provide excellent drainage, aeration, and moisture retention.

A balanced mixture of these following soil amendments can help ensure the right proportions of water retention, aeration, and drainage for succulents.

Peat moss

An organic soil amendment, peat moss retains soil moisture to keep succulents hydrated without leaving the soil oversaturated. Second, it improves soil texture and drainage, preventing soil compaction and promoting root growth. Finally, it improves soil aeration, providing oxygen and other air particles needed for plant growth.


Vermiculite is a mineral that has been heated to high temperatures, causing it to expand and form a lightweight, porous material that is a popular soil additive used in gardening. It is frequently used to improve the structure and drainage of garden soil, as well as to retain moisture and nutrients.


Coarse sand is cheap and readily available. It improves drainage and provides a gritty texture for a more stable soil structure.


Perlite is a lightweight, porous volcanic glass that expands at high temperatures. Perlite improves garden soil structure, water retention, aeration, and nutrient retention. It prevents soil compaction and improves root growth in container potting mixes.


Compost adds organic matter and nutrients to succulent soil. Also, it will add structure, drainage, and moisture to succulent soil. Beware, compost can make succulent plant soil too rich and heavy, so use it in moderation and with other soil additives.

Making Your Own DIY Succulent Soil Mix

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Picking Soil Components

First, you will need to incorporate several main components when making your own succulent soil mix:

  • Potting soil medium: Potting soil for indoor plants is a good base and serves as your foundation for your DIY succulent soil.
  • Nutrient-rich additive: Compost is a great source of nutrients.
  • Drainage material: Coarse sand or vermiculite is the perfect choice for drainage.
  • Water retention: Perlite or peat moss is the general choice amongst gardeners.

Proportions for Different Succulent Types

A simple rule of thumb is to keep the ratio at 2:1:1:1 two parts potting soil, one part compost, one part coarse sand, and one part perlite.

As you get more advanced, different succulent varieties may require a slight adjustment in the ratio of materials.

Adjust these proportions as needed based on the preferences and growing conditions of your specific succulents.

Some succulents, for example, may require slightly more drainage, whereas others may be more or less tolerant of water retention.

Steps to Create the DIY Succulent Soil Mix

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  1. Measure ingredients: Begin by measuring out your potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice according to the recommended ratios (see above for a general ratio of 2:1:1:1).
  2. Mix the components: Combine the potting soil, compost, coarse sand, and perlite or peat moss in a large bucket. Use a trowel or your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly, ensuring that the drainage material and water-retaining material are evenly distributed throughout the potting soil.
  3. Test drainage: Once the mix is prepared, add water and see how fast the water drains through. If the mix drains too slowly, add more coarse sand. If it drains too quickly, add a bit more potting soil or perlite.
  4. Store or use immediately: You can use the succulent soil mix immediately or store it in a sealed container for future use. When using the mix, be sure to only fill pots two-thirds full to provide room for your succulents to grow and expand.

Succulent Soil That We Use

Tell you a little secret, we personally don't make our own. We've tried, but find it cumbersome and a lot easier just to buy a pre-mixed bag of succulent soil. We've used a few brands, but this succulent soil has not let us down yet. 

Succulent Soil Maintenance

Succulent soil maintenance boils down to two things: how you water your succulent and refresh your succulent soil.

Watering Succulent Soil

When it comes to watering succulents, remember that less is more. Because these succulent plants are adapted to survive in drought conditions, it is critical not to overwater them. Here are some pointers:

  • When the soil is completely dry to the touch, water your succulents.
  • Use the “soak and dry” method, which involves thoroughly wetting the soil and then letting it dry before watering again.
  • Consider using a watering can with a narrow spout to control the flow of water and reach the plant’s base.
  • Consider the season and the amount of light your plants receive—succulents require less water during the winter months when they are not actively growing.

Refreshing the Soil

The soil in your succulent pots may become compacted and depleted of nutrients over time. Follow these simple steps to maintain the best soil conditions:

  • Examine the soil: Examine the top layer of the soil for hardness or crustiness, which may indicate that it is time to refresh it.
  • Examine the succulent roots: Take the succulent out of the pot carefully. Look at the roots to make sure there isn’t any root rot. If necessary, go deeper to the roots but gently loosen the compacted soil around the succulent’s root ball.
  • Refresh old soil: Remove the top 1-2 inches of the old soil in the pot and replace it with a new and fresh succulent soil mix.
  • Replant the succulent: Replace the plant in the pot, making sure it is at the same depth as before. Fill in any gaps with the new soil mix and firmly press it down around the plant’s base.

Other Succulent Care Tips to Consider

In addition to using the right succulent soil, there are other important care tips to consider when growing succulents. One of the most important things to keep in mind is watering. Succulents are known for their ability to store water, so it’s important not to overwater them.

Read further on watering and other succulent care guides in our blog.


What kind of soil do succulents need?

Succulents need well-draining soil. This means soil that allows water to flow through it easily, preventing water from pooling around the roots and causing rot. A good succulent soil mix will typically contain a combination of ingredients like perlite, coarse sand, and peat moss that allow water to drain but also retains enough moisture and nutrients for the plants to grow.

What is the best soil mix for succulents?

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The ideal soil mix for succulents should be well-draining and consist of inorganic materials, such as perlite or vermiculite, mixed with organic matter, like peat moss or compost. A widely accepted mixture of potting soil, plus organic and inorganic soil additives

Can I use regular potting soil for succulents? 

Regular potting soil is not recommended for succulents because it retains too much moisture, which can cause root rot. Succulents need soil that drains quickly and allows the roots to dry out between waterings.

Difference Between Succulent Soil vs. regular potting soil?

Succulent soil is specifically designed for cacti and succulents, which require good drainage and aeration. It contains a higher percentage of inorganic materials and less organic matter compared to regular potting soils. Regular potting soil, made primarily of organic materials (such as bark, peat moss, and compost), can retain too much moisture, which is not ideal for succulents.

Can I make my own succulent soil mix?

Yes, you can make your own succulent soil mix by combining ingredients like perlite, coarse sand, and peat moss in the right proportions. There are many different recipes available, but we suggest a 2:1:1 ratio of potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand.


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