DIY Succulent Soil Mix Recipes. Do your succulents look stretched out and leggy, no matter how much sun you give them? Are some of their leaves starting to yellow or fall off for no apparent reason? If so, your plants may be trying to tell you something important.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I first started growing succulents. I picked out some adorable plants and happily brought them home. But instead of thriving, many of them became stunted and unhappy-looking within a few weeks. No matter what I did, they just wouldn’t perk up. I was so frustrated!
It turns out the problem was right under my nose – in the soil I had planted them in. I was using a standard multipurpose potting mix, not realizing that succulents have very different needs. They require soil that drains quickly to prevent their roots from rotting. And without enough airflow to their roots, they struggle to grow.
Once I wised up and repotted my plants into a specialized gritty, fast-draining soil, it was like night and day. Their transformation was amazing! Their colors became richer, their leaves firmed up, and they started growing like crazy.
I had learned firsthand that soil matters when it comes to succulents. And finding the right store-bought cactus and succulent soil mix can be hit or miss. The best way to ensure your plants get exactly what they need is to create your own custom soil blend.
So if you want your plants to stop looking sad and start thriving, let me show you how to whip up the perfect soil for healthy, happy succulents!
|Succulents need a fast-draining, gritty soil mix, unlike standard potting soil. Inorganic materials like perlite, gravel, and sand keep soil loose for good drainage and prevent rot.
|Custom Soil Blend:
|Tailor your own soil blend with different ratios of ingredients like potting soil, perlite, pumice, and compost. More grit = faster drainage, more organic matter = more nutrients.
|Observation and Adjustment:
|Observe plant response in different DIY soil mixes. Healthy roots and controlled growth indicate the right recipe. Keep adjusting the blend until succulents thrive.
|Finding the Perfect Balance:
|The key is finding the perfect balance of drainage, moisture retention, and nutrients tailored to your specific succulents and climate. DIY soil gives you control to optimize the growing medium.
Ingredients for DIY Succulent Soil
Creating your own succulent soil mix allows you to fully customize the blend to meet your plants’ needs. You can make a lightweight, nutrient-rich mix for succulents that mimics their natural soil. Let’s explore the key components that give DIY succulent soils their winning properties.
Organic ingredients in succulent soil provide nutrients for growth and help retain some moisture. Used in moderation, they create a balanced blend.
Compost makes an excellent addition, contributing beneficial microbes and slow-release nutrients. Opt for compost designed for container plants, sifted to remove sticks and debris. Compost improves moisture retention but use sparingly to keep the mix lightweight.
Coir (coconut fiber) is a sustainable alternative to peat moss. It holds moisture and nutrients effectively while still permitting excess water to drain. Look for coco coir bricks, which expand when hydrated.
Peat moss is a common moisture-retaining amendment. However, some avoid it due to environmental concerns. Use sparingly and look for sustainable sourcing.
Inorganic materials make up the “gritty” part of gritty succulent mixes. They create space for air circulation and provide fast drainage.
Perlite is a go-to drainage booster – those white specks in potting soil. The porous volcanic rock aerates soil and prevents compaction. Perlite floats when wet so don’t overdo it.
Pumice is a lightweight volcanic rock that creates air pockets for roots and drainage. It comes in crushed gravel form or as larger pebbles.
Sand (look for coarse builder’s sand) provides quick drainage. Particle size affects how quickly water flows through the mix.
Gravel or pea gravel also improves drainage but use a size that won’t compress soil. Larger gravel is decorative.
While succulents are low-maintenance, they still require nutrients to look their best.
Slow-release fertilizer tailored for cacti and succulents provides a gentle feeding over time. Or use diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Worm castings add trace nutrients. Mix in sparingly when potting or top-dress occasionally.
Activated charcoal helps prevent root rot by absorbing excess moisture.
Expanded shale and similar porous ceramics increase aeration like perlite.
Earthworm castings enrich soil with microbial activity.
Crushed eggshells add calcium and drainage.
Wood ash raises pH slightly.
Get creative with your own custom succulent soil recipe using components that fit your climate and plants’ needs! Test different blend ratios to find your perfect mix.
Essential Characteristics of Succulent Soil
Succulents require a very specific growing medium to thrive. Their native habitats are often rocky or sandy with free-draining soils. To replicate these conditions, a good succulent soil needs the following characteristics:
This is the most crucial property for succulent soil. With their propensity to rot if overwatered, succulents need soil that drains quickly and doesn’t hold moisture against their roots.
To create drainage, mix in inorganic materials like perlite, gravel, or sand. Aim for a blend with at least 50% inorganic matter. The particles create air pockets for excess water to percolate through.
Avoid water-retentive ingredients like standard potting soil or peat moss in high proportions. A small amount of organic matter provides nutrients. Too much will hold moisture.
Use containers with drainage holes so water can flow out the bottom. Pots without holes force water to sit at the base.
While succulents are adapted to nutrient-poor conditions, providing some nutrients helps them grow and develop vivid colors.
Use a small amount of organic matter like compost or worm castings to introduce nutrients. Avoid over-fertilizing which can damage roots.
Look for cactus/succulent soil mixes that contain a starter charge of slow-release fertilizer to feed plants over several months.
Top-dress with compost or fertilizer periodically to maintain nutrients without saturating the soil.
pH Neutral or Slightly Acidic
Succulents prefer a pH between 6 and 7.5. Avoid alkaline soil, which can hinder the uptake of nutrients.
Test soil pH with a kit and amend if needed. Add sulfur, peat moss, or coffee grounds to lower. Use wood ash or crushed eggshells to raise pH.
Look for cactus/succulent soil mixes designed with the ideal pH range. Or blend your own mix with pH-neutral components.
Water with distilled or rain water since tap water can make soil more alkaline over time.
The perfect succulent soil is lightweight, gritty, and nutrient-rich – with the excellent drainage these plants require. Mix your own custom blend using components to create your ideal growing medium.
5 DIY Succulent Soil Mix Recipes
When making your own succulent soil, the specific blend of ingredients can be tailored to your plants’ needs. Test different ratios to find the perfect custom mix. Here are 5 recipes to try:
This straightforward beginner soil provides a good introduction to mixing your own succulent medium.
2 parts potting soil
2 parts perlite or pumice
1 part sand
The potting soil provides nutrients and retains moisture. The perlite/pumice and sand keep the mix loose and well-drained. The equal ratios create a balanced blend.
If you’re struggling with overwatering issues or very plump succulents, a grittier soil forces you to cut back on watering.
1 part potting soil
2 parts perlite
3 parts pumice or fine gravel
With more inorganic grit and less ability to hold moisture, this soil will dry out faster between waterings. Your plants will thank you!
Want to add some nutrients without compromising drainage? Organic boosters enrich this blend.
2 parts potting soil
1 part coir or peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part worm castings
The coir helps retain a bit of moisture while the perlite keeps things lightweight. Worm castings offer nutrients plants will steadily access.
This extremely fast-draining blend is perfect for succulents prone to rot.
1 part potting soil
2 parts pumice
2 parts turface or chicken grit
With pumice and grit dominating the recipe, water drains quickly from the porous media. Use for sensitive succulents or very hot, humid climates.
Once you understand succulent soil ingredients, create your own custom mix! Select a potting soil base then build from there by adding your preferred inorganic amendments. Tailor to your plants’ preferences and your climate. Get creative and have fun with it!
Experiment with different soil recipes until you discover your perfect succulent potting mix. Pay attention to how your plants respond in each blend. An ideal soil encourages healthy roots and controlled growth.
Mixing and Using DIY Succulent Soil
You’ve chosen your ingredients – now it’s time to blend everything together into the perfect succulent potting mix. With a wheelbarrow or large bin, you can easily stir up enough soil to pot all your plants.
Thoroughly mix together all components until the blend looks uniform. Blend in small batches if needed to ensure even distribution. Turn over the soil as you mix so ingredients are fully incorporated.
Moisten lightly as you mix if the ingredients are very dry. You want the completed soil to have a bit of moisture but never be wet or muddy. Aim for the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
Fill containers without compacting so air pockets remain between particles. Lightly tap pots to settle soil, but avoid pressing down firmly.
Allow soil to fully dry out between waterings. Test moisture by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry beneath the surface, it’s time to water.
To refresh nutrients, top dress pots with worm castings or compost every few months. Or use diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Repot plants in fresh soil annually or whenever their roots have filled a pot. Old soil compacts over time and loses nutrients.
Adjust your blend for local conditions. More sand and gravel for humid environments, more organic matter for very arid climates.
Mixing your own succulent soil gives you control over the ingredients and ratios to meet your plants’ needs. Be sure to pot them in containers with drainage holes to prevent wet soil issues. With the perfect soil and proper watering, your succulents will thrive!
Tips for Growing Healthy Succulents
With the right soil, watering, and care, your succulents will thrive indoors or outdoors. Follow these tips for keeping your plants looking their best:
Choose containers with drainage holes. This is critical to prevent wet soil issues that cause rot. If a decorative pot lacks holes, plant the succulent in a plastic nursery pot inside.
Water only when soil is completely dry. Check by sticking a finger into the soil. Wet periods should be brief. Err on the side of under-watering, which is safer than overwatering.
Give bright light. Succulents do best with at least 4-6 hours of direct sun daily. South or west windows are ideal indoors. Acclimate plants gradually if moving to brighter light.
Use grow lights to supplement. If natural light is inadequate, LED grow lights will nourish plants. Place lights very close to plants for best results.
Fertilize lightly in the growing season. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half strength every 2-4 weeks spring through summer. Don’t feed in winter.
Provide good air circulation. Stagnant air encourages rot and pests. Use small fans to keep air moving gently around plants.
Watch for pests. Mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids can attack. Isolate and treat any infested plants promptly. Remove badly damaged leaves.
Adapt watering to climate and season. Plants need more water in hot, dry weather and nearly none in cool winter months. Observe plants and adjust as needed.
Follow these tips to keep your succulents healthy and looking their best year-round. Pay close attention to their care needs, and they will thrive indoors or out.
Creating your own custom soil mix gives you control over the ingredients to meet your succulents’ needs. The perfect succulent potting blend is loose, fast-draining, and nutrient-rich – quite different from standard potting soil.
By mixing soil components like perlite, gravel, compost, and sand, you can achieve the ideal lightweight and gritty texture these plants require. Tailor the ratios to create more or less moisture-retention as needed. Boost nutrition with slow-release fertilizer or organic additives like worm castings.
The recipes shared here are just a starting point for crafting your own DIY succulent soil. Experiment with different blend ratios and components to find what works best for your climate and specific plants. Pay attention to how your succulents respond when potted in custom soil. Healthy roots and controlled growth indicate a good match.
Part of the fun of growing succulents is tweaking the soil formula until you unlock the perfect mix. Test different batches, observe the results, and adjust as needed. Soon you’ll have thriving plants in soil tailored just for them.
When your succulents start showing richer colors, better form, and faster growth, you’ll know your DIY soil mix is a success! Your plants will thank you for taking control over this crucial aspect of their care.