Succulents are low-maintenance plants that are perfect for brown-thumbed gardeners. They’re popular house plants because they generally require very little attention. Most people kill their succulents not by neglecting them but by giving them too much attention: Too much water spells disaster for succulents. It can lead to root rot and your plant’s eventual demise. To avoid letting your plants sit in water, you’ll need to show some restraint with your watering can. You can also pot your plants in the best soil for succulents to prevent excess sogginess.
- BEST OVERALL: Perfect Plants All Natural Succulent and Cactus Soil
- BEST ORGANIC: Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR SUCCULENTS: Superfly Bonsai Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Soil for Succulents
Potting your succulents in the wrong soil will quickly put a stop to your gardening adventures. In unsuitable soil, succulents will become stressed, waterlogged, and eventually die. While some succulents are hardier than others, the right soil will boost the health of any succulent plant. Most succulents (and cacti) hail from dry climates with very little rainfall, so they do not respond well to heavy watering and ultramoist soil.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
There are plenty of indoor houseplant soils on the market made especially for succulents. You might wonder what to do if you want to grow succulents outside. An important consideration for outdoor growing is the volume of soil you’ll need. Since you’ll presumably need more, you might have to pay more attention to pricing. Outdoor conditions are very different from indoor ones. Plants tend to get more sun and airflow, which helps prevent water-soaked soil. You can, therefore, be a bit less cautious when choosing planting soil for outdoor succulents. However, it’s still important to choose a mix that promotes good drainage.
Organic vs. Nonorganic
If you’re concerned about chemical exposure, you may wish to opt for an organic soil mix. Note that organic soils tend to be more expensive than nonorganic ones. However, succulents are not edible, so the chemical exposure is less of a concern than when you’re growing food. If price is a concern for you, nonorganic soil is a suitable choice for this plant.
Soil vs. Mineral Ratio
All soils contain a mixture of organic substances and minerals. Succulent soil has more mineral content in it than soil intended for other purposes. Organic substances hold on to water and deliver nutrients to plant roots, while minerals help promote drainage. The mineral to organic content ratio depends on the type of succulent you’re growing. You’ll want soil with a sandy texture for most succulents, as it will also improve drainage.
Container and Drainage
Avoid potting your plants in containers without drainage holes, no matter which type of plant you’re growing. You can add rocks or gravel to the bottoms of pots to encourage drainage, but drainage holes are an immense help in preventing root rot. A plant pot with drainage holes and a saucer makes it easy to spot when you’re being too generous while watering. You can also keep succulents in nursery pots and pop them into cachepots, but don’t forget to regularly check the bottom of the pot for water accumulation after watering.
Our Top Picks
These succulent soil mixes were chosen because they provide good drainage and quality nutrients for your plants. You may have to experiment with different soils to find a brand you like best. Gardeners tend to have varied preferences when it comes to soil mixes of all kinds.
This low-cost soil mix is intended for potting up small succulents. The ziplock-style bag is easy to reseal for indoor storage. The sandy soil texture helps provide adequate drainage. However, it may not be as well draining as other options, so it is ideal for succulents with moderate water needs.
- Affordable soil for small succulents
- In resealable zip-top bag
- Good drainage for most succulents
- Contains organic ingredients
- Can hold too much water for some succulents
- Bag holds only 4 quarts of soil
This professional organic potting soil for succulents is pH balanced and contains Canadian sphagnum peat moss, reed sedge peat, perlite, sand, and limestone. This strategic blend provides nutrition and optimal drainage for your plants. Detailed instructions are included from the manufacturer to help you achieve the best results with this soil mix.
- Contains organic ingredients
- Blend provides good drainage and nutrition
- Package includes detailed instructions
- Water can puddle on soil
- Bag contains only 4 quarts of mix
This premixed product is sifted before packaging to ensure there are no clumps, and it aerates well; there is no actual soil in this mix. The all-substrate formula guarantees good drainage for outdoor succulents, and you can use it alone or mix it with your existing earth. A zip-top bag design keeps critters out and allows you to use a little at a time. This product is also available in larger quantities.
- Good choice for outdoor succulents
- All-substrate formula provides good drainage
- Seals in zip-top bag
- Comes in bigger quantities
- Only 6 quarts of soil in bag
- Costs more than some
New plant parents and lovers of small indoor succulents will appreciate the natural ingredients and affordable price of the Perfect Plants All Natural Succulent and Cactus Soil, our top pick. Give outdoor succulents a good soil base with the Superfly Bonsai Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix.
How We Chose the Best Soils for Succulents
When looking for succulent soil mixes, drainage is a top priority. All of the mixes on this list contain ingredients to help water drain easily through container soil. Growing indoor succulents usually requires less soil mix than outdoor plants require, so we looked at the quantity of mix, although growers can add soil, sand, or grit to some of these. We also considered whether the mix contained organic and natural ingredients that also could improve nutrition gradually.
Do you still have burning questions about soil for succulents? Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions on the subject.
Q. Do you need special soil for succulents?
Yes. Succulents (and cacti) are native to dry, arid climates, so they prefer sandy, well-draining soils. If you were to use the soil in your vegetable garden, which is formulated to retain water for thirsty plants, your succulents would quickly die off. Specially formulated soil mixes designed for your succulent plant are recommended, especially for new gardeners.
Q. What type of soil is best for succulents?
A sandy, well-draining soil is ideal. A soil composed of at least 50 percent materials like perlite, sand, and other minerals will help promote drainage. The higher the mineral content, the better the drainage.
Q. Can I plant succulents in just rocks?
Rocks are a helpful addition to succulent soil mixes because they improve drainage. Water slips through stones easily. However, succulents need some soil to survive; otherwise they do not have access to nutrients. If you spot a rock garden adorned with succulents, you might not see the bottom layer of soil underneath, but it’s definitely there.
Q. Can I plant succulents in pots without holes?
You can, but it doesn’t mean you should. Holes ensure proper drainage. Without holes, watering becomes a bit of a risky activity. If you have a plastic pot without holes, you can add them yourself using a drill. Materials like glass require expert attention and specialty tools, so you should avoid trying to alter those. If you prefer to use a container without drainage holes, you can add rocks, marbles, or other substrate at the bottom of the container to help with drainage, and then water the plant sparingly.
Q. What are the benefits of houseplants? Why are succulents so popular?
Houseplants are a great way to beautify rooms and bring the outdoors indoors. Some houseplants can also purify the air in your home and help increase ambient humidity. There’s also evidence that plants can improve your overall well-being and mental health by reducing stress and anxiety.
Succulents are easy to care for and an excellent choice for neglectful gardeners who still wish to enjoy the benefits of having houseplants around. Many succulents also produce “babies” and are simple to propagate, so a single plant will eventually lead to more down the road. You don’t need to cater to unique needs like those of some tropical houseplants. Most succulents will also survive in small pots as long as they have good drainage. And, of course, they look very cool.