A really excellent question was sent in from our website today regarding kinds of soil. The individual had been reading online and had gotten several different answers as to what kind of soil is best for succulents, and there was some confusion. Here’s the secret:
Succulents will perform best in a well aerated, well drained potting mix with no fertilizer built in. These soils are especially crucial in container gardens (our preffered planting type for succulents). There are even several commerically available “cactus soil” mixes, which will work just fine.
All soils should contain the following:
- Peat moss or well rotted manure as organic matter,
- Peralite or Vermiculite for aeration,
- Sand for drainage,
- and something like fine chipped wood for bulk.
You’ll notice this mix doesn’t contain black dirt or “garden soil/top soil.” Very few commercial potting mixes contain any black dirt content anymore and almost all are reffered to as “soiless” soil mixes (a term that still makes me giggle!). This lack of black dirt is to stop the spread of agricultural diseases that could be dormant in the soil. If you are harvesting your own black dirt for use in your own potting mix, this isn’t a problem.
No matter what soil mix you are using, always allow succulents to dry down completely between waterings. A mix that is rich in peat moss or manure will hold more water and take longer to dry out than a comparable mix with more bark or sand. Refer to our article on watering on our website for more useful information.