The Best Soil for Succulents: Nutrients, Drainage, and Texture

Succulents may be one of the easiest plants to care for, but that doesn't mean they are totally foolproof. These sun-loving plants are known for their drought-resistant qualities, thanks to their leaves, which have adapted to retain more water than similar species.

Plus, there are over 20,000 succulents to choose from, so you're sure to find one to match your gardening style and decor.

If you've found yourself struggling to keep your succulents happy and thriving, your choice of soil may be to blame.

What makes good soil for succulents?

The soil should provide the plant with the nutrients it needs, but it also acts as an anchor for the roots, giving them something substantial and stable to hold onto as they continue to grow.

It also brings moisture to the plant, and since different types of soil hold water in different ways (and for different periods of time), matching your plant to the right soil is important to its well-being and longevity.

Nutrients

Soil is made up of a combination of organic matter and inorganic (mineral) matter. Organic refers to matter that was once alive and is now rotting, such as compost, manure, tree bark, coconut, or peat.

On the other hand, mineral components are made from natural substances that are not derived from living organisms, such as gravel, perlite, silt, or sand.

The soil needs both types to thrive; organic matter provides nutrients, while mineral matter helps improve drainage (the more organic matter in the soil, the more water it retains, which means less drainage).

The correct ratio creates the perfect environment to support plant growth through nutrient contribution and provide sufficient drainage to prevent root rot.

The ideal organic/inorganic ratio depends on the variety of succulents and growing conditions, but generally, the soil should contain 50-75% inorganic matter.

  • pH balance:

The term pH refers to the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil, measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Succulents typically prefer neutral soil (7) or even a slightly acidic pH (6 to 6.5).

Adequate drainage

When it comes to succulents, the name of the game is well-drained soil. If we go from organic to inorganic principle, this means that succulents prefer soils with less organic matter. Succulents are adept at tolerating drought as their wild habitats are rockier, sandier, and sandier than tropical indoor plants.

Furthermore, their native environments are subject to periods of heavy rain followed by extremely dry periods, causing the soil to dry out completely. As a result, they are more likely to rot when overwatered or left in low-draining soil (soil that drains more slowly).

If you are growing your succulents outdoors, consider mixing materials such as sand or gravel into your native soil if it is not yet well-drained.

You can test this by digging a hole one foot wide, one foot deep, and one foot long and filling it to the top with water. Let it drain and refill 12 hours later; If the water runs out in two to three hours, you already have well-drained soil.

For containers, you will have more flexibility in the composition of the soil, as you can essentially create the proportion yourself. Choose a porous container, like a terra cotta pot, with a drainage hole in the bottom center.

As a general rule of thumb, start with a combination of one part organic matter and one part mineral. Succulents should only be watered after the soil is completely dry.

Texture type

Gardeners can classify inorganic or mineral matter based on its type of texture. This refers to the size of the grain or pores, which determines how much water the material can hold and how long it takes to dry.

While sand has the largest grain size, clay has the smallest, so soils that contain more sand dry out faster than clay (which is what we want for our succulents).

We hope you enjoy this video about DIY succulent soil mix:

Source: Mountain Crest Gardens

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