Succulents are pretty much the ideal indoor plant; intriguing, easy to care for, lots of eye-catching varieties. But before these plants will look after themselves, they need the right foundation…or in the case of these beauties they need a good soil composition.
So let’s take an in-depth look at the type of soil these houseplants prefer. That special mix of different soils and minerals to keep them looking beautiful and healthy. If you can get this part right, the rest is more about enjoying the magic of one of the most unusual plant families on the planet.
Our comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about mixing and choosing the best soil for succulents…and of course cacti too!
What is the Best Type Of Potting Soil for Succulents?
The simplest answer I can give is… a well-draining soil. But let’s break that down so you can really appreciate what that means and what you need to look out for in your perfect soil blend.
Just take a moment to think about where you would see a succulent growing in its natural environment. If you want to visualize this, just say the word Cactus and you will appreciate the type of desert or jungle landscape and soil that succulents grow. So with that thought in mind the best soil blend we can possibly use, will be replicating that dry environment by incorporating a high ratio of minerals in our potting mix.
Typically succulents thrive in desert-like environments with a coarse, mineral substrate and very well-draining soil. Of course, we also have some species of jungle cacti that prefer a richer organic composition, but still very well-draining and aerated. The primary goal is to not let the soil hold onto water for too long. Wet the soil and let it drain off well.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend you use 2 parts minerals to 1 part organic matter to make a really nice succulent soil blend. Here’s my personal favorite recipes to make the best and easiest succulent Potting Mix. I will give you a real simple mix, and my ‘ideal’ DIY succulent blend:
DIY Succulent Soil Recipe
My Simple Soil Mix
- 1 Part Grit
- 1 Part Perlite
- 1 Part Potting Soil
My Ideal Soil Mix
- 1 Part Gravel
- 1 Part Grit
- 1 Part Perlite
- 1 Part Coarse Sand
- 2 Part Coir
It’s important to realize that the mineral content is critical to provide the drainage these drought-tolerant plants need. But minerals alone are not enough, we will also need good organic matter to provide some moisture retention and nutrients to feed your plant. Here are a few of the materials available if you wish to make a DIY succulent soil blend at home:
When it comes to the best minerals to use in your soil blend, this really is down to three factors. Cost, availability of the mineral, and what function you want that specific mineral to perform within the blend. Personally, I keep it pretty simple, but hey that’s me. I will usually use whatever gravel or grit I have to hand with some coarse sand or sandy soil, plus a scoop of perlite. Let’s take a quick look at the most common minerals used.
Nothing clever here, just good clean gravel. Just like the stuff you have on your drive or garden path. I like coarse gravel up to about 0.5cm (3/16ths). This is great for drainage and adding larger pockets of air in the blend. Buy Gravel
Grit is just the name for a small collection of rocks, mineral debris, large grains of sand. You could say it fits nicely in between gravel and sand in terms of its size and performance. So a great option if you only want to buy one mineral component. Buy Grit
Sand will provide a more compacted potting mix, good for allowing roots to dig into it and get a good strong base. It will also hold moisture better than Gravel or grit. But you will still need a more coarse mineral-like gravel to create air pockets around your plant’s roots.
Anyone who hopes to succeed in growing plants in pots should have an abundant supply of perlite to hand. Formed from volcanic glass perlite is broken into small white pieces of mineral rock to blend into all manner of potting mixes. The main benefit of this mineral is its ability to support good drainage and hold air around your plant’s roots. Buy Perlite
The organic material used in the mix is not organic in the context of organic vegetables, but organic meaning it was once alive and growing. The main purpose of organic materials is to offer water retention and of course nutrients to the plant’s root system. So let’s look at what options we have:
Bark & Leaves
If you are looking to use a coarse organic mix, then broken down bark and leaves will be ideal. Sometimes called Forest Mix because of the type of organic materials that are included. Good for incorporating air and for use on larger potting schemes.
You may well have your own compost heap in your backyard, and so long as it is well rotten and broken into small fragments, it will be perfectly good for your blend. Try to check that it’s free of insects or pests such as gnats.
Potting soil is generally a combination of forest products, such as bark, leaves along with a general compost incorporated. So it’s a great option to use as a simple easy option of organic ingredients to put into your succulent soil blend. Avoid peat-based soil as it will hold too much moisture. Buy Potting Soil
This is my favorite organic material for indoor potting. Made from coconut husk, it is very lightweight, airy, and has good water handling qualities. Typically lower in inherent nutrients, so it will require you to water with a nutrient or fertilizer once the nutrient within the husk is depleted. Buy Coir
Good to know
When selecting the best potting soil for succulents, look for minerals like coarse sand, pumice rock, fine gravel, perlite, and grit. For organic matter, we recommend pine bark, potting soil, coconut coir, or ground coconut husk, but avoid high levels of peat-based soil.
8 Best Potting Soil for Succulents: Reviews
With a wide variety of organic and mineral soil ingredients to choose from, it’s easy to become confused when deciding which is the best soil for your potted succulents. Fortunately, there are plenty of pre-mixed, ready-to-use soils with the right blend of organic and minerals to support good drainage.
The team at The Yard and Garden has tested dozens of formulas over many years, for their quality of blend, value for money, and overall effectiveness. Hopefully, our list of the best succulent soils we’ve used will meet your micro gardening needs.
Espoma Cactus Soil Mix is a great choice of soil for both succulents and cactus. In fact, any plant that requires good drainage and aeration will fair well with this product. This particular soil is 100% natural and organic and is favored by succulent growers because it promotes excellent root growth.
The blend includes sphagnum moss, forest product, humus, perlite, limestone which also helps balance the pH, and Yucca extracts. So a nice organic and mineral mix. I will always add a little bit more perlite, grit, or gravel to my blend just for the extra drainage. I will say that about every soil on this list, but it’s just my preference as I have it to hand in my garden shed. If you don’t, then I wouldn’t worry too much, just stay measured with your watering frequency. Check the moisture by pushing your finger 1cm into the soil, if it’s dry add water.
Simply use this potting mix to plant your succulents into suitably sized pots with drainage holes, and watch them flourish all year round. Increase to a larger size pot with fresh potting soil the following year. Check the latest price on Amazon.
Customer reviews: Experienced succulent growers rate the Epsoma Cactus Potting Mix an impressive 4.7 out of 5 for its reliability year after year. Most agreed that adding gravel or perlite will help with drainage and keep your succulents in tip-top condition. Making it our Best Soil For Succulents
- A nice blend of Organic and Mineral products
- Epsoma outstanding organic soil and nutrient heritage
- Suitable for using to pot other plants too
- Nothing of significance
No matter your level of succulent growing ability, whether you’re growing from seed, offset, or repotting young or established succulents, this is a great succulent soil mix. In fact, it’s Wonder Soil! This all-natural soil mix has been scientifically developed and is crammed full of nutrients that are tried and tested to enhance succulent growth, encourage strong roots as well as boosting aeration of the soil.
Here at Yard and Garden, we found it advantageous to place the mix in the pot first, add water, watch it expand, and then plant your rootings or succulent plants. Yes, you heard us right, watch it expand. The ‘expanding soil’ is all down to the addition of coconut coir which is best known for its ability to retain water, provide excellent aeration, and improve drainage.
This is another super mix containing Coir, Magnesium, Gypsum, Pumice, Rock Minerals (Grit), Humus, Worm Castings, and a few other great additions. The only reason this doesn’t make the winning podium is that given the choice I would take the product with perlite, just a personal preference. As always I would add some further gravel or a more coarse grit if it’s to hand.
You can buy Wondersoil Cactus and Succulent Mix online at Amazon.com or from their website.
Customer reviews: It’s a relatively low-cost option because a little goes a long way and it’s also suitable for growing other plants that need well-draining soil and aeration such as fiddle leaf fig. Just make sure you have the right climate for growing succulents and that you water your plants as and when needed.
- All-natural with a great cocktail of ingredients, including coir kelp and pumice
- Specifically designed for the growing needs and conditions of succulents
- Lacks perlite, but does contains pumice, a great alternative
Superfly is so confident that you’ll love their pre-mixed cactus and succulent soil mix that they promise to refund you in full if you’re not 100% happy with it. Their unique formula is said to max-out on all the key essentials needed for good succulent growing – excellent drainage, water retention, and aerated soil.
I have to confess I have not actually used this soil before I wrote this review. I purchased a bag and have potted-up and all I can say is that I am very impressed with it. Time will tell how it performs but let me tell you what I know right now. The blend is ¼ Japanese Akadama, ¼ Pumice, ¼ New Zealand Pine Bark, and ¼ Haydite. I really like it, each component of this soil is really coarse and so very fast draining and nice aeration.
This is one product where no additional gravel or perlite is required, drainage is awesome. However, I may add a little bit of coir in the future just to try it for a slightly finer mix for the smaller rooted plants. But I can say for sure Superfly won’t be needing to refund me this time. Check out the latest price.
Customer reviews: This soil mix is great at holding just the right amount of moisture in the soil making sure that air gets to the roots. Perfect all round for happy succulents whether you’re nurturing cuttings or seeds and re-potting succulents.
- Pre-mixed – no need to add anything else
- The formula creates the right environment for succulents to thrive
The Next Gardener really knows their onions when it comes to succulents. So much so, they’ve built a business around their knowledge and expertise. That’s why here at Yard and Garden we trust their professionally formulated soil mix that works for bonsai and cacti house plants as well as succulents.
This soil mix is natural and 100% organic. It’s light, fluffy, well-aerated and it doesn’t contain big lumps. It’s also pH neutral and drains water really well practically everything you need for well-nourished and cared for succulents. 75% blended substrate of soil, sand, and other fine minerals and 25% perlite yay!
Customer reviews: This soil works wonders on established succulents that need perking up. Our reviewers saw healthier plants in no time and were happy at how well this product helps to prevent root rot and overwatering. Go to this product on Amazon.
- 100% organic and natural
- Great soil mix that promotes the growth of healthy succulent plants
- Another pricey soil mix compared to the amount you receive
Just like the Wonder Soil mix we featured earlier, Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix has been specifically formulated for growing succulents and creating optimum soil conditions to enable them to thrive. With a slightly different mix of ingredients and this time, sphagnum peat moss, forest products, and fertilizer. Fewer mineral components in the bag here, so again scoop some perlite in there.
A useful tip. If you live in an apartment or maybe you just don’t have the mobility to lift heavy bags of gravel in your garden. It’s ideal to use these small convenient bags of ready-made compost along with a bag of perlite to offer that drainage and aeration succulents and cacti love. I say Perlite over gravel or grit because it’s as light as a feather, making it really easy to handle. Just take care to wet it before pouring to stop any dust from escaping, especially if you’re indoors.
Customer reviews: The main bugbear here was the price. Many of our long-time succulent growers choose to mix this with other succulent-loving soils or minerals in order to stretch it further. Remember my tip on mixing it with perlite! You can buy it online here.
- Specifically purposed for succulent growing
- Miracle-Gro makes everything convenient and this is no different with added fertilizers
- Premium price
The individual ingredients in this cacti and succulent potting mix from Westland each have something to offer in terms of promoting healthy roots and well-nourished healthy succulent plants. The bonus with this potting mix is that it can be used for other varieties of plants from succulents and cacti to other indoor houseplants such as orchids and citrus trees.
Westland’s include added sand and grit plus clay Seramis granules to assist with water control, in terms of drainage of excess water and still provide good moisture retention. This is an excellent value mix based on the price and ingredients, so it no problem to supplement it with a good helping of perlite or grit. This is from a UK based company selling mainly across the UK and Europe, so availability can be limited, but it is available online at Amazon.co.uk here. However, it’s still one of the best readily available succulent soil mixes, and performs superbly when blended with additional perlite.
Customer reviews: This mix is less course than other succulent potting mixes on the market. Whilst succulents receive a great deal of nutrition, the fine soil can lead to reduced drainage, so using grit or perlite will do a great job to improve water drainage. This product scores a superb 4.6/5 on user reviews
- One of the top-selling products succulent soils in the UK
- Contains clay Seramis granules
- Requires coarse minerals to for optimum drainage. We recommend additional perlite or grit
Watch your new and established succulents flourish by potting them in Hoffman’s Organic cactus and succulent soil mix. Here at Yard and Garden, we appreciate how this particular soil mix is pH balanced and has been formulated to provide good drainage for succulents.
This versatile soil mix is good to use right out of the bag, not only for your indoor succulents but also for cacti too – both jungle and desert varieties. The soil also comes complete with a handy set of instructions containing useful growing hints and tips. A great mix for new and experienced succulent growers.
Contains Canadian Sphagnum Moss, Reed Sedge Peat, Perlite, Sand, and Limestone. Check latest price here.
Customer reviews: This product is drier than many other soil mixes and holds water just enough to help your succulents to thrive.
- Ready to use formula, no need for additional minerals
- Drier than many soil mixes, offering a good base soil for succulents
- Can be little more expensive in some stores
This re-potting mix from Cactus & Succulent Focus is intended for use with most varieties of cacti and succulents. Another British company called Growth-Technology whose products we have tested many times before on The Yard and Garden, and we’ve always been impressed.
This soil is notable for the inclusion of coconut coir, sand, and grit to help with that all-important retention of water, balanced with good aeration. The nutrients come from a well-drained peat-free soil that is nice light and fluff. You’ll get 8 liters in a bag for a very reasonable price on Amazon.co.uk. So I would use some of the cash you have leftover to add a few handfuls of perlite and it’s a perfect mix.
Customer reviews: As with many ready-blended succulent soils, customers comment on the premium price but scoring 4.6/5 it definitely meets with approval based on overall performance and customer satisfaction.
- A really nice light soil with coir, sand, gravel
- Good value for money for an 8L bag
- Like most of the blends on our list a few scoops of perlite needed to level up to a perfect succulent soil
Often when people are looking for advice on the best potting soil for succulents, they are experimenting with their first plant or two, and so only need a small amount of soil. That’s where these next few products come into play, as you can use them on other plants around your home. This option may suit some of you. So let’s take a look at how you can dip your toes into the world of succulents and do some savvy buying.
- Use low-cost substrate or stone instead of gravel and use it to double up as a decorative top dressing
- Use a potting soil mix that is excellent for all types of house plants and with one more mineral ingredient will be great for succulents too
- I’ve said it so many times, I need to show you a little bit more about perlite, the wonder substrate
Your top dressed succulents and cacti will look pretty as a picture with this attractive golden sandstone. If you’re using a small quantity why not use it up as part of your mineral blend. The coarse rock particles not only help with water drainage and absorption into the soil, they also provide the mineral nutrition your plants need to stay healthy and grow stronger.
Sold in quantities of 2.5 pounds online at Amazon, these decorative and practical gold sand rocks come in an easily resealable bag, meaning it’s easy to store them safely and securely for the next time you re-pot or cultivate new plants.
Customer reviews: Topdressing young plants with Boniosz golden sandstone rocks helps them stay securely in place whilst roots become established and are less likely to become damaged.
- Can be used for decorative purposes as well as drainage enhancer for succulent soil
- Use for both topdressing and your mineral aggregate
- Handy resealable bag
This lava rock has two uses for succulent growing. When combined with soil it will act as an additive to improve water drainage and will help to balance pH levels. Alternatively, it can be used as a decorative top dressing for succulents and cacti that have been planted in soil and need a little extra help with drainage.
This lava rock is available in a choice of no less than 12 colors and textures. Not only does it look pretty, but it will also supply all-important mineral nutrition to your succulents as well as helping with drainage. Make sure you don’t overlook the importance a back or sandstone backdrop can bring to your succulents. Choose your top dressing to match your foliage and pots. Check the latest price here.
Customer reviews: The choice of colors available in this lava rock makes an ideal backdrop against the lush greens and vibrant hues of succulents. Find a colored lava rock to suit your style and create a centerpiece for your prized plants.
- Can be used for decorative purposes as well as drainage enhancer for succulent soil
- Attractive choice of colors and textures
The inclusion of coconut coir and perlite in this mix makes the Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix a good base for growing succulents. In fact, this soil mix is great for any pot plants that require well-drained soil and the ability to retain moisture for longer. But as we discussed earlier in this article, I would be tempted to add some additional gravel or coarse grit to this mix and …yep some perlite for extra airflow. Or add some of the sandstone topdressing to save buying more products.
Burpee Organic is an all-natural potting mix and has an airy and light texture, just make sure your succulents are in nonporous pots with good drainage holes so that the potting mix has the best chance of serving your succulents well. You want to avoid holding onto the moisture for too long.
Customer reviews: This product is sold in 8 Quart quantities. Some felt that this made it a little pricey compared to other soil for succulents given it was not a specialist product. Buy Burpee Mix online.
- Contains coconut coir and perlite
- A great organic general potting mix
The beauty of using Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix is its versatility. Not only will it encourage your succulents to thrive, but you’ll be able to use it to pot other container plants too. This organic mix contains coconut coir and other organic material but will require the addition of gravel or grit, to assist with effective drainage within the soil.
Unlike other soil for succulents, this indoor potting mix does not contain bark or compost, which Miracle-Gro highlights as a cause of gnat infestation.
Customer reviews: This potting mix scored an impressive 4.7 out of 5. Our reviewers were impressed with the quality of the soil and felt that this was Miracle Gro’s best product. Check latest price here.
- Reduced the risk of gnat infestation
- Can be used for succulents as well as other indoor plants
Perlite is great for aerating your soil, helping with drainage, and modifying or loosening the texture of soil (especially clay). It retains very little moisture and will keep your soil fluffy and light making it perfect for potted succulents and other container plants.
There are literally hundreds of good perlite brands on the market, but Hoffman Horticultural Perlite is 100% perlite. Whilst it does not provide nutrition to plants, it does perform a wonderful job of providing the right soil conditions for life to thrive. Root growth in succulents is better and stronger because the perlite creates the right environment to help roots to retain water whilst also providing effective soil drainage. There’s are good selection of Perlite available online here.
Important: Remember when using this indoors for potting succulents or other house plants, be sure to wet the perlite before pouring as it can be very dusty
- Great for creating the right balance of drainage and aeration for succulents to thrive
- My number one potting soil additive
How to Plant a Succulent in a Pot in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Take your succulent out of its nursery pot and remove as much nursery soil as possible. To ensure healthier roots, you’ll want to use your succulent soil mix, not the existing soil on the plant
Step 2: To avoid your soil from falling out of the pot’s drainage holes, place mesh over the holes and secure the mesh with tape, or use a bed of large coarse gravel.
Step 3: Before placing your succulent in its final pot, fill the container with soil almost to the top (but not quite). For a comfortable fit, leave a little room at the top for dressing or adding more soil later.
Step 4: Now it’s time to plant your succulent in the pot! Position the plant in the center or a little off the center. Make sure the succulent’s foliage sits completely above the soil to prevent rot.
Step 5: To finish off the potting process, add a top dressing with gravel or another mineral that looks good. As per step 3, you should have enough room at the top of the pot for the dressing part.
Important: Once you’ve potted your succulent and you’re happy with the dressing, let the plant rest in its new place for one or two days before watering it. This resting period will allow the roots to heal before soaking up water.
How to Take Care of Succulents
Avoid non-draining containers: Any non-draining pot, especially a glass container, doesn’t make an ideal long-term care solution for succulents. These plants don’t like sitting in wet or soggy soil. To keep them happy, choose well-draining and breathable pots as succulents need adequate airflow to maintain healthy stem, leaves, and most important of all, roots.
Place succulents near a window: When keeping succulents indoors, it can be hard to provide them with enough sunlight. These plants need up to 6 hours of indirect sunlight every day. The easiest way to provide your indoor plants with indirect sunlight is to place them near a window or in the brightest room of your home.
Rotate the plant often: Okay so your succulent is going to be sitting on the window sill all day to get some sun. But as it’ll be sitting in the exact same spot day in day out, it’s more than likely that only one side of the plant will be getting enough light. Make a habit of rotating your succulent frequently every few days or so.
Water the soil directly not the plant: When watering your succulents, be sure to soak the soil directly. Don’t use a spray bottle as misting will cause moldy leaves and damage the roots. Another way to hydrate your succulents is to place the pot in a pan of water. Once the topsoil is moist, take the pot out of the pan.
How Much Water do My Succulents Need?
As a general rule of thumb, never leave your succulents in standing water. They will die. (Not exaggerating!)
Watering your indoor succulents daily is another instant way of killing them. Sure, succulents like to have their roots soaked but they tend to dry out quickly. During spring and summer, they need more water than in fall and winter.
An indoor succulent will be happy with about 2 cups of water every other week during the warmer months. Reduce the watering amount and frequency to 1 cup once a month in winter.
Tip: to see if your succulent is thirsty, do a quick soil test using your finger. If the top 1.5 inches of soil are dry, get your watering can out.
Can I Keep My Succulents Outside?
Some people are surprised to learn that many different types of succulents can actually live outdoors all year round – even in cold climates! This, of course, depends on whether you are growing hardy or soft succulents.
- Hardy succulents: these varieties include Sempervivums and Sedums, which tolerate frost and can be kept outdoors even in below-freezing temperatures. In fact, hardy succulents grow best outdoors rather than indoors because of better airflow and more sunlight.
- Soft succulents: these varieties include Aloe, Crassulas, Senecios, and Crassulas, which must be brought indoors before temperatures fall below freezing. You can always put them back outside when it’s warm and sunny.
Word of caution: if you’re going to keep your succulents outdoors, you should know that too much sunlight or heat can be a shock to their system. It’s best to put them in an area that gets full shade first before gradually introducing them to more sunlight.
As your succulents grow larger and develop a more established root system, they will be able to tolerate more heat. Newly planted succulents, on the other hand, must be kept in the shade longer.
Common Succulent Pests and Diseases
So you’ve potted your succulent in the best quality soil, watered it correctly and provided it with enough sunlight, but something doesn’t look right with it. No matter whether you keep your succulents outdoors or indoors, these plants are just as likely to get pestered by pests or infected with diseases as other plant varieties.
Here are the most common succulent pests and diseases with a solution for each problem:
Pest: Grease mite
Signs of infestation: Dark, greasy blotches on your succulents are the result of mite infestation. If left neglected, it can quickly spread to your other succulent plants.
Solution: Drench the affected plants and those nearby every month during the spring, summer and fall seasons using miticides. Choose miticides that contain natural ingredients like neem oil. Continue treatment until the new leaves show no signs of mite infestation.
Pest: Cochineal scale
Signs of infestation: White, fluffy dots or fuzzy lumps on your succulents’ leaves are due to cochineal scale formation.
Solution: Use a hose or the faucet from a tap to wash away the pests and then scrub the leaves with a soap and water solution. Be sure to use a soft-bristled, long-handled brush. If you don’t treat the scale problem from early on, it can spread and eventually kill the plant.
Signs of infestation: When your succulents are too wet, they generally attract gnats to their soil.
Solution: Use a well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.
Signs of infestation: Tiny white bugs crawling on the stems and causing the plant to wither.
Solution: To prevent stubborn mealybugs from killing your succulents, keep the plant area dry, clean and free of rotting flowers.
Disease: Rot and fungus
Symptoms: Damp conditions or over-watering can cause rotting of stems and roots.
Treatment: Improve ventilation in the room where you keep your succulents in, don’t overwater, and make sure your soil is well-drained, and that the succulent pot is porous and doesn’t hold water for a long period of time. If the plant has only just started rotting in a small section, cut off all the rotten parts to allow new growth.
Best Soil for Succulents in Summary
Well there we go. A mammoth review of some of the best potting soil for succulents and how best to use them. Hopefully you have enjoyed the read and taken something beneficial away to help you enjoy your journey in growing successful cacti and succulents.
Remember the main points we have covered. Drainage is king! These are either desert or jungle plants and they look well-draining soil with good aerations. Two-thirds of minerals content to one-third organic materials and don’t overwater. If you’re not sure, just poke your finger a centimeter into the soil and feel for moisture, if it’s dry, then water them.
Cactus and succulents are some of the most intriguing and cute plants in world, so get out there and give them a go. You will love them, I promise.