The Perfect Soil For Your Succulent!
Find Out How to Choose One.

Are you wondering what makes your succulent rot? Well, the answer is pretty simple: the wrong type of soil. Knowing that “effective drainage” is the factor that makes the soil best suited for succulents’ growth will help you choose the perfect soil for your succulent.

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Kelly Adams

April 05, 2021

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Are you an eager, yet a lazy gardener like me? If yes, succulents must be a perfect vent to your gardening passion. However, these so-called easy to maintain plants are not so easy in reality. Their untimely and unexpected rotting must have given you a tough time.

It is time and again said,do not kill them with kindness which indicates that unlike tropical plants excessive care particularly in the form of overwatering kills these plants. So what is the key to maintaining growth and ensuring the life of these plants?

Sandy soils make for the best succulent soil. The quality that makes them best suited to succulents’ growth and survival is that they are “well draining” ones. Since succulents have adapted themselves to retain water in order to prevent dying in dry arid climatic conditions, excess water makes them rot. Hence, soils that lose this excess water rapidly are the best soils for succulents’ growth, be it indoors or outdoors.

Succulents and the Role of the Soil

1. Nutrition

Nitrogen and Phosphorus are two key nutrients needed by succulent and these are acquired through soil.

2. Anchorage

Stability not only allows the plant to grow well, it also prevents untimely dying. This stability is provided by the suitable soil.

3. Moisture

This is the most important factor accountable for the growth and life of the succulent. The quality of soil and its suitability for the succulent is determined by the length of the time it holds water for. The soil that is a “well draining” one is the best soil for succulent is it mimics the natural environment of succulents’ growth in open land such as deserts.

As illustrated above, the most important factor to be taken into consideration when choosing the soil for succulents and cacti is its “drainage”.

Soil Drainage= How Quickly Soil Looses Water

Since succulents have adapted to their naturally harsh and dry environmental conditions, they rot in no time when left in excess water. Succulents’ tissues are capable of absorbing water very quickly and their water retention is excellent too, so the soil best suited to them is the one that drains the excess water.

Choosing the Best Soil for Succulent- The Key Determinants

1. Where is it Planted?

Succulents planted outdoors are more exposed to sun and air, so water tends to dry out quickly. On the contrary in the controlled indoor conditions, these variables have less of a role to play. Owing to this difference, one can get away with being less cautious about the soil of an outdoor succulent plant, whereas indoor succulents would need extra attention in terms of soil’s content and texture.

Succulents in pots on shelves

Variety of succulents in garden

2. The Mineral Ratio in the Soil

The primary components of any soil are the minerals and organic substances. Organic substances include things like plant debris, whereas minerals are inorganic, non living parts. While organic substances help roots hold on to water, minerals improve drainage. Since succulents need a soil with good drainage, the soil having a higher ratio of minerals as opposed to organic substances will be best suited to their growth. In most cases , sandy soils will do the job. Soils having good mineral ratio are sand, perlite, volcanic rock, fine gravel, and chicken grit.

3. The Texture of the Soil

The texture of the soil is categorized based on the size of the grit. The three common types are sand, silt and clay. Sandy soils have the largest pores and particles, whereas clay soils have the smallest pores. Therefore, sandy soils dry out fastest and are most suitable for succulents.

Room succulents are very low-maintenance. They require little to no watering as they are known for storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. There is a wide variety of indoor succulents to choose from. Following is a pictorial list of most sold indoor succulents that will help you select one for your room.

The texture of the soil is commonly estimated by two types of tests that are feel tests and jar tests

Pyramid showing percentage of sand, silt and clay in soil

When succulent is planted outdoors, sandy loam in the range of 50% to 80% coarse sand or fine gravel will suit the best to the plant. Whereas, when planted in the pot coarse grit minerals will do the job.

Some Options for Indoor Succulents’ Soil

1. Potting Soil

Organic materials like bark and compost make up potting soil. Since it takes a while to dry, it is not the best option to use. However with mineral grit added to it, it turns out a good option for succulents.

Man adding potting soil to succulent's pot

2. Sand

Sand makes for a good option as succulent’s soil. However, one has to ensure that it is not beach sand as it has excess salt in it.

Sand in a bowl with succulents in pots

3. Pertile

It is a volcanic glass which makes soil light and air.

Man mixing pertile to the soil

4. Gravel

Gravel can be added to soil. However, it needs to be ensured that it is not layered at the bottom especially at the bottom of a non-draining pot as it will lead to rotting.

5. Some Other Options

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Chicken grit
  • Decomposed granite
  • Cat litter

Outdoor Succulents’ Soil Requirements

Soil and different types of succulents

Soils for the succulents planted on ground do not need to meet any specific requirements. This is because air flow and exposure to sun evaporate water making environmental conditions conducive to the growth of succulents even in a soil less suitable. Exposure to sun and air can be increased by altering the topography of the ground. That is just adding a rocky bedding would lift the ground and make your job much easier.

Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe

Homemade recipes will make for good soil as the materials and their quantity in it can be adjusted as per the requirement. These requirements would include factors like area of plantation; whether succulent is planted indoors or outdoors and the type of container in which it is planted. Moreover, the composition of this soil can be altered to meet the needs of the environment in order to ensure better growth of the succulent.

Table indicating mineral and organic components for soil

For an easy recipe at home, you can add 1 part organic material from left side and 2 parts mineral material from the right side. The key here is the ratio which needs to be kept ⅓ organic vs. ⅔ mineral component.


While there are plenty of options in the market to choose your succulent soil, I purposefully limited the discussion to explaining the qulaity that makes the soil, the best soil. Any soil that is a well drainage one will make for a perfect soil for your succulent. Be it a common potting mix or sand, you have to make sure it allows the succulent to lose excess water in no time. keeping this factor in ind, sand makes for the best soil for a succulent.

Fertilome Cactus and Succulents Mix 4 Quart Bag

This fine blend of peat moss, sand and limestone makes for a good potting soil

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By Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Kelly Adams Picture

Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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