cactus soil mix for succulents

Do Succulents Need Special Soil to Grow? (Step by Step Guide)

Even if you have no experience in gardening, growing succulents will be just the right thing for you! They are extremely beginner-friendly, have unique stunning looks, and can thrive with basic care. So,

Do succulents need special soil? Succulents need drainage friendly soil to survive & grow. Succulents cannot grow in garden potting soil as it retains water for a longer duration. Succulents hate damp soil & prefer to be grown in cactus mix soil that facilitates drainage.

Alternatively, you can make your own drainage friendly potting mix by mixing coarse sand, pumice, pebbles with the potting soil.

Can You use Regular Potting Soil with Succulents?

Succulents won’t be able to survive in regular potting soil. The ideal way to make any plant thrive is to provide them with an environment that resembles their native habitat.

Succulents are accustomed to growing in drought-friendly areas lacking moisture content in the soil.

  • Regular potting soil is rich in organic content and remains damp for a long time owing to its high water retaining ability.
  • The roots of succulents are extremely sensitive to root rot in damp conditions. Hence you should never use raw potting soil for growing succulents.

Dio succulents need soil: potting soil for succulents

What’s the Best Potting Soil mix for Succulents? Do Succulents Need Special soil?

Succulents need drainage friendly soil to survive. Succulents survive best in soil that has the following features:

  • Low water retention
  • Fast Drainage
  • Prevents root rot
  • Promote aeration

Overwatering is the most common reason behind the death of succulents. Hence the soil you use for growing the succulents becomes extremely critical.

So you should always grow them in a potting mix that is drainage friendly.

The best practice is to buy cactus soil mix online or from the nearby store and grow succulents in that mix. It helps in retaining water for a short period of time and the excess water drains off pretty quickly.

succulent soil

What are the Factors that Influence the nature of Succulent Soil

Organic Content

The presence of organic content is vital for the nutrition of any land plant.

Compost, tree barks, peat moss all these play a vital role and make sure your potting soil has these ingredients without the addition of any pre-applied fertilizer.

Minerals or Inorganic Content

Proper options include:

  • Coarse Sand
  • Gravels
  • Pebbles
  • Pumice or Perlite
  • Volcanic Rocks
  • Calcined Clay

These inorganic materials get wet instantly after watering however stay that way for a short time as the water drains off quickly, giving the succulent roots just enough time to absorb the required bit of water.

Also Read: Can Succulents Live & Grow inside?: Indoor Succulent Care

Should you Buy or prepare your potting soil?

This is totally a personal decision.

If you are new to gardening and in no mood for experimentation then go for a commercially available cactus mix. They are made with the sole purpose of providing improved drainage and have almost all the important components needed.

  • On the contrary, if you wanna have a little bit of fun and provide your succulent with just the ideal mixture of soil then preparing the succulent friendly soil can be a viable option for you.

low light succulents indoors

How do I Prepare my Soil for Succulents?

Preparing your own potting mix for growing succulents is always a great idea as

  • It will be cheap
  • You will be in full control of the ingredients

If you want to prepare your own potting mix at home, in that case, you would need to mix other inorganic ingredients like pumice, volcanic rocks, pebbles, coarse sand in equal amounts with the potting soil to ensure that the soil will be drainage friendly and support aeration. You can use 1/3rd of potting soil, 2/3rd of pumice, sands, and rocks for preparing the mixture.

  • Always use potting soil of light texture and never use garden soil as it retains water for a long time.
  • Potting soil having vermiculite also remains damp for a longer period so always check the potting soil ingredient list before buying.
  • The mixture should not stick together easily & should be a bit unaggregated. If it feels sticky add more of the inorganic materials into it.

Why put Pebbles & Rocks on succulent soil?

  • Small rocks or pebbles and granules help in enhancing the drainage facility of the soil and helps in getting rid of moisture faster.
  • They also help in increasing aeration which leads to the availability of oxygen in the soil which gets absorbed by the roots.
  • You can also add some decorative pebbles at the very top around the stem base for better beautification.

Also Read:

do succulent need soil

How deep do you need to Plant Succulents in the Potting mix?

Try to put them in pots that are about 1 to 2 inches deeper than their roots.

  • It will provide breathing room that will help in better growth.
  • They do well in pots that are 4 to 5 inches deep overall.
  • Succulents can adjust well with the pots and in case the pots are smaller, their overall growth will be stunted as well.

Should you plant Succulents in Pot soil or in Garden Soil?

The answers depend on the succulent type and the weather conditions you have in your place.

  • Most succulents don’t do well with excessive cold or hot temperatures. 13 to 23 is their optimum range.
  • Some frost tolerant succulents are there which manages to tolerate cold around 5 degrees.
  • The majority of the succulents don’t prefer direct sun, they like filtered indirect sun for 4 to 7 hours a day.
  • Succulents are extremely sensitive to overwatering and if you have a rainy season with heavy rainfall, you need to grow them inside.

In case your place experiences a prominent summer, rainy, and winter season, it will be a great idea to grow succulents in a pot. Always grow succulents in terra cotta pots which absorb the excess water from the soil. Make sure the pots have drainage holes in them.

  • You can then place them in the garden throughout the year and bring them inside as per need.
  •   Growing succulents in pots give you the extra option of mobility.

However, growing them on garden soil will prevent you from that. In case your place gets a moderate climate throughout the year then you can arrange a shade in your garden and grow them there.

Make a steep bed on the ground with the help of sand, pumice, etc for better drainage and plant your succulent in that.


Can succulents grow without soil?

The majority of the land plants cannot survive without soil. Soil provides the plants with nutrition, stability, and acts as a suitable anchor. It also favors the growth of beneficial bacteria that in turn promote better plant growth.

  • So succulents cannot grow without soil.
  • They prefer soil that is rich in inorganic contents like sand, pebbles, gravel, and pumice however they need some degree of potting soil for optimum nourishment and support.

Is coconut coir good for succulents?

Coconuts coir absorbs a lot of water and hence instead of facilitating drainage, they favor water retention. Succulents hate soil that retains water and stays damp for a long time.

  • Dampness can lead to root rot so in short no coconut husks are not good for the soil.

Should I put rocks in the bottom of my planter before adding soil?

  • Never put small rocks at the bottom of the pot in case your pot has drainage holes as that will block the drainage holes which further will lead to poor drainage and root rot.

However, adding small rocks in the soil mixture is beneficial for improving the drainage of the soil. So make sure to mix them well with other soil mixture ingredients and see that all the rocks don’t end up at the bottom.

  • In case you don’t have drainage holes you can make a layer of rocks at the bottom and then add on soil mixture above that as this will help in better drainage from the soil.


So to sum up the question, “Do succulents need soil?” Yes, they indeed need soil to survive like most other land plants.

Soil is the most prominent need of the succulents and even though these plants can put up with neglect and are relatively low maintenance when compared with tropical plants, they cannot put up with dampness in the soil.

So make sure you only water the succulents when the soil is dry. Use a cactus mix soil for growing succulents as that will be ideal for their growth.

Also Read:

So will you prepare your own soil or buy a cactus mix soil from the store?

If you have any extra queries dont feel free to comment below!

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