On my initial days of growing succulents, I used normal soil mix which can be used for all kinds of plants. But, With time, I realised that my succulents were not growing properly; some were dying early and some initially turned yellow and ultimately died. I thought this is happening because I am not using fertilizers in accurate doses, so I bought a second lot and used all required fertilizers in exactly the same quantity as prescribed and watered timely. Still I failed to grow my succulents properly. Later when I consulted with the nursery owner, he suggested changing the soil mix. I did so and now my succulents are growing beautifully. They are shiny, compact, perfect in shape and size and garnishing my garden with its beauty.
If you are also wondering why your succulents are not attaining their full growth even after all your care, then maybe the soil you are using is not ideal for them. Through this article I will share with you how to make an ideal succulent soil mix at home with easily available and affordable materials.
Before learning how to make a succulent mix, we first have to understand the nature of our succulents. Succulents, unlike other ornamental plants, require very low amounts of water and thrive perfectly in bright sun rays. Depending on the species, succulents can be grown outdoors or indoors and their water requirement also varies accordingly.
Along with water, fertilizer requirement for succulents is also very low. While other plants require fertilizers in kilogram or gram units, succulents get enough nutrients when provided in milligram units. Generally, liquid based fertilizers are preferred for succulents because these fertilizers can reach all corners in the soil in no time. Knowledge of these aspects is very useful for selecting the soil type for our succulents. To facilitate proper regulation of water and fertilizer in soil, the soil that we choose must be well drained, low organic matter containing, sandy loam with pH slightly acidic in nature. It should be noted that care and management varies among succulents based on their type and species.
Materials required for preparing succulent mix
1. Garden soil :
Regular soil containing 20-25% organic matter can be used as soil base for making a succulent mix. Garden soil or regular soil helps in maintaining nutrients quality and improving soil structure. Compost soil and peat moss can be used as a soil base. It is not compulsory to use fresh compost. Even the old compost can be used because succulents require a limited amount of nutrients. If you are using a hanging basket then coco peat can be a perfect base because coco peat is light, airy and rich in nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and other macro- and micronutrients which are essential to plant growth.
Remember : whatever soil you are using, make sure that they are free from bad microbes. If you are not sure about their presence or absence, then make them sterile first.
2. Coarse soil/ sand :
Succulents require well porous soil to prevent root rot, so including a part of coarse sand in a succulent soil mix is very important. You can use any type of coarse soil but just remember that the soil you are using is free from impurities and infections. ( infections include presence of microbes spores or mycelium, dead and decayed matter, impurities; especially found in sands collected from sea sores, beach, etc. Also the sands of the beach contain salt which makes soil saline ). Also the soil should not be very fine that will retain more water.
3. Perlite :
Perlite is a white residue obtained after volcanic eruption. It is similar to glass in chemical composition though its physical appearance is not similar to glass. Glasses contain sharp edges but these do not. Perlite has a very unique nature that it can absorb and retain moisture for a long period. In case of normal soils, on a few years run, the micropore where air is retained, gets filled with water and becomes compact. So the succulent roots die off. Unlike this, perlite can maintain good aeration. Thus, for better aeration, water retention, and drainage, perlite, a naturally occurring mineral, is added to garden soil.
Advantages of Adding Perlite
It is remarkably porous in its treated state that is why it enhances soil aeration, water retention, and drainage when added.
- Because perlite has a neutral pH, gardeners can combine it with their soil without worrying that it would change the pH level of the soil.
- Since it is manufactured from naturally occurring substances that can be found in soil, it doesn’t include any hazardous chemicals. Due to this, it becomes a top option for gardening.
- Once treated, perlite becomes physically stable and keeps its shape even when squeezed.
To make succulent soil at home we require following materials that will make our work way faster and easier.
4. Plastic jar or container:
Any portable container made up of plastic or steel or any other components can be used to make succulent soil mix since there is no chance of reactions between container and ingredients. Container given with a handle can be used. Handle is recommended for easy access to containers.
This will help in pouring ingredients into the bowl and mixing them properly.
6. Small jars:
When I make a mix, I always make a huge quantity. Then I store them in small plastic jars so that I can just take them out and use them whenever I bring new succulents to home. If you are making a mix for the first time, make it in small quantities just to avoid waste. Later when you get used to making it you can make a big lot at once.
Preparation (DIY Guide With Ratios)
To prepare a succulent soil mix, 2 parts of perlite, 2 parts of sand and 1 part of garden soil is used.
Here part indicates a measuring unit. Suppose if you are taking 1 kg of perlite then take 1 kg of sand and 1/2 kg of garden soil. Another example is if you are taking 4 kg of perlite then use 4 kg of sand and 2 kg of garden soil.
This is how a perfect mix is prepared for succulents. You can additionally use small rocks or pebbles from top to decrease water loss by evaporation. Also, the addition of beautiful pebbles increases the beauty of our pot and / or plant.
Pros of Homemade succulent Soil mix Over Commercial One
First and foremost thing about commercial succulent soil mix is that they are expensive, making it unavailable for most of us on our desired time. Next disadvantage of using commercial succulent mix is that it contains a lot of impurities which causes water retention, so we cannot guarantee the desired quality of soil in commercial one. Moreover, nowadays some commercial producers are adding thermocol in place of perlite. Here we have to understand that thermocol does not act as perlite in any case. It cannot maintain aeration. Instead, being a plastic component, it adds up impurity in our soil. That is why, I recommend you to make your own succulent mix at home with affordable and high quality ingredients.
Characters of Best Succulent Soil Mix
1. The soil should be well draining; since water retention causes root rot and decay of plant parts.
2. Organic matter content should be low in comparison to normal sowing soils. This is because soil with high organic matter has the ability to store a high amount of water.
3. Should contain 2 parts of perlite, 2 parts of sand and 1 part of garden soil. This ratio needs to be considered seriously. The perlite helps in providing required nutrients and also maintains soil structure, likewise sand maintains draining environment and reduces water retention in pot.
1. Can you use regular potting soil for succulents?
Yes, you can use regular potting soil with optimum nutrients for succulents. Succulents like other plants, too, require a soil base which can provide a source of nutrients . However, an ideal ratio of regular soil should be strictly taken into consideration. Large amount of garden soil is harmful for succulents because a large amount of soil will retain more moisture in its micro and macro pores. Moreover, high organic contents hastens the rotting of delicate roots.
2. What is the cheapest way to make succulent soil?
Homemade succulent mix is always best since a quality mix can be prepared with cheapest resources. To make succulent soil in most affordable way, you can use below mentioned materials:
Soil base : All types of regular soil can be taken for soil base. This will act as a nutrient pool and a water reservoir. Also it helps in binding elements together.
Coarse soil or sand : you can use sand which is available nearby your house or near to sea shores. But make sure that the sand you selected is free from any types of dirts and infections.
Perlite : Perlite is the best element in a succulent mix to make your soil porous and prevent lodging. It acts as a water reservoir when there is excess water in the pot and as a water source when the pot becomes dry. You can buy them easily in any nearby nurseries. But, don’t confuse perlite with thermocol.
Cocopeat : if you are using a hanging basket, then you can replace garden soil with cocopeat. Cocopeat is light and also serves as a nutrient source.
3. What is the best soil for succulents in pots?
Soil with high porosity, good drainage, optimum nutrients and well structured are considered to be the best soil for succulents in pots. These ideality can be gained if you use succulent soil ingredients in the right proportion i.e. 2 parts of perlite, 2 parts of sand and 1 part of garden soil.
On an endnote, making a succulent soil mix is an easy recipe and does not require any specific skill. The mix that we are preparing should provide enough drainage, should not be very compact, should provide required nutrients and should ease the growth of our delicate succulents.