Struggling with failed succulents and don’t know where the problem is? The answer could be not using the correct soil for your potted succulents.
Succulents are different from other plants. They need different conditions and different types of soil to thrive. In the absence of the right type of soil, it is almost impossible to keep these beautiful plants alive. Here we have covered everything you need to know about the best soil for potted succulents. Keep reading to learn more!
What Is The Best Soil For Potted Succulents?
When it comes to the right soil for planting succulents, each gardener has a different idea. However, the one factor that is constant in all soil types is its drainage ability. The reason is simple, succulent are habitual of droughts and they thrive well in less water. Hence, if potted in wet and clumpy soil, they will rot.
To grow any plant at home, it is important to provide it with the same conditions and environment which it is habitual of.
Talking about the wild succulents, they grow in mountains in sandy and gravelly soils. Hence, when you try to plant them at your home, it is important to provide them with a similar environment. The drainage factors of the soil depend upon the factors such as the type of soil, the flow of air, the rate of watering and sunlight. These factors affect the drainage capability of the soil. The time in which the soil dries after watering is a very important factor to consider while looking for the right soil for succulents.
Again, even after considering all these factors, things can vary from gardener to gardener. The best practice is to use a gravelly soil to prevent infections. Similarly, for outdoor succulents, a less porous soil can also work well as they stand hot sun and winds.
Another important advice for growing indoor succulents is to use the pots with drainage holes. If you think that merely adding a layer of gravel at the bottom can help the soil to drain, you’re wrong! It can do the reverse by locking the water and breeding bacteria. In this condition, no matter the best succulent soil you use, it will not be able to keep your plant alive.
Hence, always use the right pot. If you don’t have a pot with a drainage hole, you can drill it yourself – it’s not a big deal!
Factors That Affect The Soil For Succulents
Type of components – Organic And Mineral
The first factor that decides the type of soil for succulents is whether the soil contains organic components or mineral components. Basically, the soil contains both the components. Here, organic components refer to the things that are derived from living organisms like dead plants, tree bark etc. On the other hand, mineral components are those natural compounds that are not derived from living organisms. For example gravel and sand.
Both of these components are very important for the soil. While organic substances provide nutrients and promote moisture holding capacity in the soil, mineral-based materials improve the drainage ability which is crucial in case of succulents.
The right balance of these components promotes the growth of these plants and prevents rot. They allow you to water the succulents thoroughly but not on a daily basis.
The quantity of mineral content should range from 40%-80% depending upon the other environmental conditions and requirements of the plants.
You can choose from a variety of organic and mineral materials. In the case of organic materials, some great options are coconut coir, tree bark, organic compost and potting mix. Similarly, for mineral compounds, you can have gravel, perlite, volcanic rock, coarse sand, chicken grit etc. Also, avoid the mineral compounds such as vermiculite and clays that lock water. You can even mix multiple compounds from each category for preparing a good soil mixture.
Texture And Drainage Of The Soil
As far as the texture of the soil is considered, it depends on the type of mineral components present in it. The texture varies depending on the grit size. There are mainly three types of components that decide the texture: sand, clay and silt. Their quantity decides the drainage ability, dry-time and moisture-holding capacity of the soil.
Because the sandy soil has larger particles and it dries out faster than clay or loamy soil, it is considered ideal soil for succulents.
How To Prepare Your Own Soil For Indoor Succulents?
Although there are many readymade soils available in the market, mixing your own soil is a far better idea. It will not only save your money but you will also get involved with your beautiful plants better. Also, by making the soil by yourself, you will be able to provide better nutrients and care to your succulents.
With that said, below is the perfect succulent soil recipe for you.
Before getting started, let’s know about the ingredients.
- Potting Soil – It is a readymade soil which is used for indoor plants. You can get this from any gardening store or nursery. There are different types of potting soils but you should choose the one that is more suitable for your succulents. Check the ingredients to know its quality whether it adds to drainage ability or locks the moisture in. Also, don’t go for peat potting mix.
- Sand – Sand is the most important ingredient for the succulent soil because it enhances the drainage and helps the soil to dry out faster. Always use sand with coarse grit and avoid using beach sand.
- Perlite – Perlite is a natural volcanic glass that makes the soil light and airy. Also, don’t get confused between perlite and vermiculite as the later one locks the water instead of draining it.
- Gravel – Use gravel with granule size ranging from ¼ ” and ⅛ ” in diameter. Before using the gravel, rinse it nicely to remove any dust residue or dirt that can clog the pores of the soil. Also, rather than layering the pot with gravel, mix it in the soil itself.
- Other Compounds – Apart from the above-mentioned minerals, you can also use other mineral compounds like chicken grit, decomposed granite, insoluble cat litter etc.
For making a well-proportioned soil, take one part of organic materials ( potting soil, pine bark, compost, coconut coir) and two parts of mineral materials (coarse sand, perlite, volcanic rock, gravel). You can take multiple materials from each category but make sure the composition is right. Mix all the ingredients well and your soil is ready. Store it in dry and airtight containers if not using immediately.
BONUS : Soil For Outdoor Succulents
Outdoor succulents require different environmental conditions and soil to grow. They require less maintenance than the indoor ones. The best thing about outdoor succulents is, they completely transform the landscape of the garden and enhance the overall look of the place. They require a sandy loam soil with large grit size and gravel mulch. Moreover, they can even thrive well in slightly less draining soil. The reason is, they are planted directly on the ground and thus get more airflow and sunlight. The water gets evaporated because of direct sun and hence, they dry out faster. Because of the same reason, they are less likely to rot and are often disease-free.
The best way to increase the drainage ability of a soil is to mound it into raised beds or berms.
You can plant them at a slope which helps them drain automatically and they’re exposed to the sun and air. Moreover, it also looks visually appealing.
However, avoid using clay and silty soil even for the outdoor succulents. They have poor drainage and cause the plants to rot.
Best Varieties Of Succulents To Grow Indoors
Over the years succulents have gained much popularity. The main reason is, they enhance the beauty of the place and indoor plants are also considered as natural air purifiers. There are plenty of different types of succulent varieties that you can grow easily. These plants don’t require much care and with some knowledge, anyone can propagate them.
The best part is, you don’t even need to water them daily as their water-storing tissues help them to thrive in dry environments. They do well in hot and dry conditions inside the home, so you don’t need to worry about anything while planting them. You can buy different types of succulents from the nurseries.
Here are some of the best varieties of succulents that are perfect for indoors :
1. Burro’s Tail
Burro’s tail or donkey’s tail succulent looks the same way its name suggests. It is perfect for indoors and looks great in hanging pots. They can also be kept on a shelf of a countertop. The size of each stem reaches a maximum of 3 feet and has greenish-grey leaves that resemble the grain of rice. These plants are from the regions of Mexico and require good lighting and dry soil. These plants don’t bloom frequently, but you can expect pink or red flowers on the stems during summer.
2. Christmas Cactus
Next, the best variety is Christmas Cactus. Don’t confuse it with other cacti as they don’t have sharp spines. These succulents have flat and fleshy stems that grow up to one foot. They require a bit of moisture, so water them whenever the upper layer of soil in the pot gets dry. Also, don’t stress when you miss watering them, they will get back on track pretty quickly.
The best place to keep these plants is near a window where they can get plenty of light and air. They bear beautiful flowers in winter which will uplift the mood of your place.
There are two varieties of succulents that share the common name i.e “Hens-and-Chicks”. They are related plants but look completely different from each other. These varieties are Echeveria elegans and Sempervivum tectorum. While Echeveria Elegans grows with flat and flowery rosettes which bloom into a bell-shape, the later one forms with more pointed and flatter rosettes and bear star-shaped flowers. Both the plants come in a number of varieties in different sizes, shapes and colours. They look extremely beautiful and are really fun to grow.
4. Jade Plant
Jade plant is another favourite choice of home-gardeners. The reason is simple, it looks beautiful and grows easily without any fuss. This plant is a native of South Africa and grows into thick and branched stems with shiny green leaves. These leaves tend to get red tints when kept in full sunlight.
Although they can grow several feet taller on the ground but grow only a foot taller in the indoor pots. Because the top of these succulents is a bit heavy, it’s a good idea to plant them into heavier pots otherwise they will fall. These plants require high drainage soil, so water them when the top layer gets dry. There is a myth about these plants that they don’t need water to grow, which is completely wrong. They need little water at regular intervals otherwise they will start shedding their leaves.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants are well known for their medicinal properties. They are considered as power plants because their slimy gel is used to treat a number of skin ailments like sunburns, rashes, dry skin etc. These are one of the best plants you can grow at your home. They grow in a group of long, fleshy and thick leaves which are known as offsets. They grow fast and only one stem can promote a big cluster in a shorter time. When it happens, you can easily take out the stems and plant them in separate pots. In this way, you will soon have your own aloe-vera garden.
It is an indestructible plant that stands draught and humidity well. The leaves of aloe vera contain sharp spines which can hurt the passerby if not taken enough care. Similar to other succulents, it needs to be kept dry and in lots of light. However, don’t pot these plants in the extreme sun as it can burn its leaves.
6. Panda Plant
Panda plants are the most common variety of Kalanchoe plants. These plants come from Madagascar and have green-grey and fuzzy leaves which are covered with fine silver hairs. The leaves have reddish-brown spots all over them.
Panda plants can grow up to two feet in height in pots. However, they grow very steadily. Place these plants near a window that receives bright light and water them only when the soil gets dry.
7. Ponytail Palm
Although they are not really palm trees, they share a close resemblance with them. They have long woody trunks with beautiful clustered leaves at the top. These plants grow really slowly but can reach up to 12 to 20 feet in height. However, when planted indoors they will only grow up to four feet. It is also known as Elephant foot. This plant stores a lot of water in their thick trunks. These conditions make it very suitable to be grown indoors. They do well in warm temperatures and good lights. It is good for beginners and can be grown easily with very less care.
8. Snake Plant
Snake plants are extremely popular houseplants. The reason behind this enormous popularity is that they stand in harsh conditions. They survive several days without water and sunlight. They comprise broad and pointed leaves that can grow up to three feet long and look like a snake. After some time of propagation, they can form a thick bush and fill the whole container. You can take out some stems and plant into other pots. If possible, keep them in bright light and water them when the upper layer of soil gets dry.
9. African Milk Tree
Don’t get confused by its name. It is called a tree and can grow up to nine feet but it’s an indoor plant. When planted in pots, it grows up to three feet taller and produces straight and triangular branches covered with sharp thorns.
The stem produces small leaves of reddish-brown colour.
This succulent is closely related to the poinsettia, thus it produces milky sap that can cause itching and burning sensation when comes in skin-contact. These plants prefer lots of light and slightly moist soil to thrive.
That’s all about it. Succulents are the perfect plants to be grown indoors. They not only uplifts the vibe of your home but also acts as an insect repellent and air purifiers. Many people think that growing succulents is a tough task, but that’s not the case. No matter how exotic these plants look, they can be grown easily without requiring any special attention. All you need to do is to select the right soil for your plants and provide them with decent conditions to thrive.
We assume that you are now well aware of the soil requirements of succulents along with best varieties to grow indoors. You are now ready to get started with your own succulents. Just follow the above guide and enhance your indoors by growing them.