Succulent soil ingredients in a 18 gallon tote

DIY Succulent Potting Soil Mix (With Three Common Ingredients)

I absolutely love shopping online for succulents and gardening supplies. If you aren't already saving money by comparing prices online, give it a try! Here are six of my favorite things that I have purchased online as I build my own succulent oasis:

When I brought home my first few succulents from a local farmer’s market, I immediately repotted them using dirt. Yes, dirt (ugh!). I was a green thumb wannabe yet had no idea that succulents needed a well-draining soil mixture with nutrients.

So instead of crying about my mistake, I used my naive practices as a learning experience. It didn’t take long to realize that my succulents were dying in the dirt. The roots were not able to suck up water from the matted, overly moist mixture, and some plants were becoming infected with a fungus.

To fix my mistake, I ran to my local garden center where they helped me find a coarse sand mixture, perlite, and potting soil that didn’t retain water. Once I had these three ingredients in hand, I knew that with just the right concoction, I could save my succulents from certain death before it was too late.

The Best Potting Soil Mixture for Succulents

There are certain characteristics that make a soil mixture perfect for most types of succulents. First, the mix should be able to quickly drain water. Succulents are desert plants, which means they love a good rain once in a while, but then they prefer that the soil dries out. Otherwise, their roots will rot.

The soil also needs to be light and airy. This helps the roots breathe, and keeps them from sitting in moisture for long periods of time. The mixture should not compact over time because this will also restrict drainage.

Finally, the succulent soil mix should have a neutral pH level, be free of harmful chemicals and toxins, and should contain organic matter to provide nutrients for the plant.

I understand that this is a lot to swallow, so don’t give up on making your own soil just yet! I’m going to tell you the three ingredients that will give your succulents exactly what they need to survive, grow, and thrive.

The right soil does not automatically save you from overwatering your succulents, but it can help.

Related: How to Grow Succulents Indoors

What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Succulent Soil Mix

little girl standing next to tote, perlite, potting soil, and sand

You can find these ingredients at your local garden center or nursery. Both Walmart and Lowe’s in my area have garden centers, but I often shop at my local greenhouses. Feel free to price shop if you have the time so that you know where to find the best ingredients for the lowest price!

Related: How to Start a Succulent Greenhouse

Ingredient #1: Coarse Sand

A coarse sand like paver sand will help with draining to avoid sitting water. The mixture should have both sand and small jagged rocks of various shapes and sizes. Smooth play sand wouldn’t be the best option for this mixture because over time it would settle and compact in the pot.

Ingredient #2: Perlite

As a lightweight volcanic rock, perlite helps move air throughout the soil which aids drainage. I remember picking the white pieces out of my mom’s plants when I was young thinking they were styrofoam. Little did I know that it was helping her plants survive!

Ingredient #3: Potting Soil

Look for a bag of soil with a neutral pH level that doesn’t retain water. I almost grabbed the cheapest generic potting soil from Walmart, but then I read on the bag that the mix was designed to hold moisture. That’s a big no-no! So I grabbed some miracle grow potting soil instead.

Optional Ingredient: Organic Matter

If you choose a potting soil that has organic matter in it, you’re good to go. If not, you can add organic matter in the form of worm castings, compost, manure, or other materials.

Now that you have all of the ingredients, it’s time to put them all together and create your own succulent soil mixture. I like to mimic a cactus potting soil because it is lightweight and doesn’t hold water.

Related: How to Grow Succulents Outdoors

4 Simple Steps to Make Your Own Succulent Soil Mixture

little girl mixing succulent soil

If your succulents are struggling to thrive, have outgrown their current pots, or are ready to be propagated, you probably know it’s time to give them a fresh soil mix.

With my two-year-old daughter’s help (it’s that easy), I created a mixture that my succulents absolutely love. Just follow these simple steps to make your own succulent potting soil.

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

Grab something to measure the ingredients with like a Tupperware container, gravy bowl, or a large cup. You don’t need a precise measuring cup to portion your ingredients. Instead, just use a single container between all three ingredients to measure out “parts.” One level scoop (in any container) equals one “part.”

You’ll need a container that is large enough to hold your mixture, like a five-gallon bucket or a tote. I have an 18-gallon tote that is dedicated to my succulent soil mix. I love it because I can mix up a full batch and then snap the lid on it and store it in the corner of my garage until I need it again.

Related: Best Succulent Centerpiece Ideas

Step Two: Measure the Ingredients

In a large bowl or tote, add one level scoop of perlite, two scoops of coarse sand, and three scoops of potting soil. If you want to make a large batch, you can save a ton of time by just dumping one full 8 qt bag of perlite, one full .5 cu ft bag of pavers sand, and 3/4 of a 1 cu ft bag of potting soil.

Step Three: Mix, Mix, Mix

I like to use my hands to mix everything together to feel the consistency of the soil mixture. Succulents like the soil mix to be coarse and breathable. If it feels clumpy and wet, the mixture needs to be stirred better. Make sure to pull everything up from the bottom, corners, and sides of the container until the mixture is consistent throughout.

Related: How to Get Rid of Mealybugs

Step Four: Use or Store Your Soil Mix

You can use your succulent soil mix immediately or store it in an airtight container for later. I like to keep my succulent soil mix in a tote with a lid on it so I can just scoop some out when I need it. Make sure the lid fits snugly on the container so that your soil mix doesn’t completely dry out. You’ll also want to make sure rain doesn’t get inside your container and turn into sitting water. Since the container doesn’t have drainage, excessive moisture can ruin your soil and encourage mold to grow.

Related: How to Fertilize Succulents (A Complete Guide)

Why Can’t I Just Buy Succulent Soil Mix?

You can! There is no rule saying you cannot just grab a bag of succulent soil mix to repot your plants. My local stores did not stock succulent soil, so I had to find a different solution.

When I researched succulent soil mixes online, it was much more expensive to buy the volume I needed. If you only need a small amount, then buying a bag could be your best option.

I personally think it’s worth it to make your own succulent soil. It’s actually cheaper to mix your own versus grabbing a bag from the store. Plus, you have complete control over the ingredients, and you can adjust them according to your local conditions and watering schedule. And finally, it’s really easy to make.

Now that you know how to make your own succulent soil mix, give it a try and watch your plants thrive. Use this mixture the next time you repot your succulents or start new ones from scratch. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much they love it.

Related: Best Succulent Planter Ideas

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