Succulent Soil
What Sand and How Much is it Needed?

Sand is an essential component of succulent soil mix. Get the ratio right and your succulent will grow healthy and well!

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Jimena Bolívar

June 13, 2021


Succulent Soil: What Sand and How Much is it Needed? Thumbnail

Why Sand Choice Matters in Succulent Soil Mix

Does succulent soil mix consist mainly of sand? Not really. The texture of potting soil for succulents consists of sand, clay, and slit. For a happy and healthy succulent plant, this mix needs to be well-draining.

A succulent soil mix uses coarse sand. The diameter of the grains varies between 0.125 to 0.25 inches. The requirement of sand can be different for potted and grounded plants. However, the quantity of sand in the succulent mix is equal to the parts of gardening soil used.

And not all types of sand will provide you with excellent drainage. Excessive moisture, dampness, and standing water can harm your spectacular succulent, eventually causing death. So you have to be cautious about the sand you use!

The Chemistry of Succulent Soil Mix

You cannot use ordinary potting soil for your succulents!

A small succulent planted in soil mix

Before we discuss just the sand, it’s essential to understand how a succulent soil mix is different from a regular potting mix. While it’s true that succulents need proper drainage, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to retain water at all! For this purpose, the presence of clay is essential:

  • Sand (2 parts)
  • Gardening soil (2 parts)
  • Perlite/pumice (1 part)

So if you’re taking 4 cups of sand, you’ll need 4 cups of gardening soil and 2 cups of pumice or perlite. Although the sand helps smooth the drainage process, using perlite will accelerate aeration twice as much.

It’s vital to get the sand ratio right. A well-draining succulent mix should have around 40% minerals. It can also go up to 80%; mainly, the percentage depends on environmental factors and the personal growth of the plant. Where minerals are natural yet non-living organisms and organic are living organisms that were once alive. Coarse sand will retain these minerals much more than sand that has a finer grain.

What type of Sand Should I Use in Succulent Soil?

The sand in the succulent mix should be coarse!

Texture of coarse yellow sand

Any sand type that has coarse grains can be used in a succulent soil mix.

Potted plants should have coarse grain sand that is between 0.125 to 0.25 inches in diameter. For outdoor plants in the ground, the percentage of sand in the succulent soil mix should be between 50% to 80%.

One of the well-draining sand types is silica sand, which provides excellent drainage and barely leaves any water standing. The texture of silica is rough, which allows water to be drained quickly. If you choose ground silica sand, the grains will be too fine to provide proper drainage.

WARNING!

Avoid using beach sand!

Are you planning to take sand from the nearby beach? Not a good idea! The texture of beach sand is too fine to be suitable for a succulent soil mix. Beach sand cannot remove moisture from the succulent soil mix, also leaving the salt levels minimized.

Why Does Coarse Sand Work?

You can count on coarse sand to be better than other sand types!

An aloe vera succulent plant in sand

Coarse sand grains enhance drainage for succulent plants.

The grains of coarse sand are bigger and greater in diameter. Coarse sand balances the whole succulent soil mix by preventing the gardening soil from becoming too damp or moist. It also helps the succulents soak up the water that’s just the right quantity. Neither too much, nor too less. Therefore, preventing both the risk of underwatering and overwatering in one go.

What Types of Sand Should I Avoid in Succulent Soil Mix?

Sand types in which each grain has little surface area should be avoided!

Sand types that have finer grains are not ideal for succulents. Fine quality sand alters the drainage and aeration system of plants.

What about rooting cuttings and new baby offsets?

Silica sand: Provides excellent drainage and little to no standing water.

Play sand: It does not drain well, and you may find the sand draining along with water from the bottom hole of the pot.

All-purpose sand: The all-purpose sand is available at markets but it is unsuitable for all plants. If you would rather purchase a readymade mix, it’s best to get a complete soil mix made for succulents rather than buying sand.

Beach sand: Leaves water standing at the base, inappropriate for use in succulent soil. It’s irrelevant for adult succulents and even more inconvenient for offshoots and pups, as they’re already more sensitive to water than their older counterparts.

PRO-TIP

You can test sand!

Want to make your sand tests? Take multiple containers and fill each with one type of sand. Next, pour some water from the top. If there is still water standing at the base of the sand, it’s not a good choice for your succulent soil mix as it won’t provide proper drainage.

How Can I Make My Own Succulent Soil Mix?

If you’re low on budget, you can get coarse sand and make succulent soil mix at home!

Tiny succulents in soil in a transparent container

A succulent soil mix is composed of perlite, gravels, and sand.

To make succulent soil at home, you will need to put in some pebbles and stones to enhance aeration and speed up the draining process.

Materials Required Along With Sand

We’ve talked about sand, but that’s not the only thing required in a succulent soil mix. Ideally, you should have the following materials along with the substances used in succulent soil mix:

  • Gloves
  • Spade
  • Measuring cups

Steps to Make Your Own Succulent Soil

  • Have at least 3 cups of fresh soil.
  • Add 3 cups of coarse sand into the mix.
  • Use pumice or perlite to enhance the aeration and drainage system of the chosen sand and the overall succulent mix.

PRO-TIP

Always choose a fresh pot!

Using a clean container is essential whenever you’re making your succulent soil mix. Also, make sure to inspect the soil, sand, and pumice for any pests. If you see black spots or tiny insects moving around in any substance, disinfect it first before mixing them up and spreading the infection in all of them.

Choose Your Sand Wisely

So for a succulent soil mix, you need to avoid fine-grained sand at all costs. The finer the grain, the harder it will be for the plant to drain. The coarser the grain, the better the aeration, and your succulent will be able to get rid of excessive moisture and water much better. In any succulent soil mix, the amount of sand should be equal to the amount of gardening soil, along with half the quantity of perlite or pumice.

If you want to learn more how to create succulent soil at home, check out these 3 super easy homemade succulent soil recipes that will nurture your plant!

3 Super Easy Homemade Succulent Soil Recipes That Will Nurture Your Plant!

When it comes to plants, good soil is vital. So here are some homemade soil recipes for your beloved succulents

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena 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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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena 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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