You’ve probably seen succulents around Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook; the world has gone crazy for them. They come in beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors; they are easy to care for, and they have ultimately piqued your interest. And though they can survive just about anywhere, the one thing that succulents cannot grow in is the wrong kind of soil. The proper soil needs to be able to drain moisture well and provide a unique mixture of sediments to let your succulents flourish.
So how can you start caring for your succulents and give them the love that they deserve? Well, look no further for a one-stop-shop to teach you everything you need to know about soil types.
I’ve got just the right mix of the top five soil brands for succulents and a helpful buying guide to understand how to choose the right soil for your succulents.
Where To Buy
FatPlants San Diego Succulent Mix
Cactus and Succulent soil Mix
Hoffman 10404 Cactus And Succulent Soil
cactus and succulent soil mix
TerraGreen Creations Succulent Planter Soil Kit
Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
Superfly Bonsai Succulent Soil Mix
Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil
Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
Hoffman 10404 Cactus and Succulent Soil - Our Choice For The Best Soil For Succulents
It’s not every day you come across a nursery that has been committed to succulents for so long, and Hoffman is that nursery having been found almost 90 years ago! Their years speaks volumes to their obviously high-quality mixes. You can tell straight from the packaging that Hoffman a particularly special brand.
Hoffman takes a different approach to soil mixes. Usually one would strive for a soil that is very lightweight, but Hoffman has a denser soil that includes peat moss and limestone, which are great ingredients for drawing excess moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I honestly never see enough nurseries taking advantage of limestone in their soil mixes, and it’s really refreshing to see a brand that takes such thoughtful steps in creating their soil mixes.
So something that shows that a brand is of a lower caliber is their quality control. But let me tell you Hoffman has set high standards for their mixes and does not skip a beat when it comes to good soil mixes. Each batch is pH balanced and is set to a very high standard before putting it on the market. And for the newbies in the world of succulents, Hoffman comes with handy information on each bag to get your start.
One thing I didn’t like is that although it is very affordable, Hoffman doesn’t have more than one bag size. There’s not as much bang for your buck when those little bags start piling up.
If you have a cozy little apartment with matching cozy little succulents that don’t need a lot of soil, then Hoffman’s succulent mix is perfect. You can stick that little bag right under your kitchen sink and forget about it. And although it is not organic, Hoffman 10404 is a great soil that offers a hardy soil and offers it at a very attractive price.
FatPlants San Diego Succulent Mix - Best Potting Soil For Cactus Plants
FatPlants is a company with a very interesting story. They have been open for over a decade, and the two women who founded the "nursery" are dedicated solely to succulents. They are an organic nursery that has a beautiful assortment of succulents and use this soil mix on their own plants as well!
The soil has a great supple texture and is rich in nutrients. They also include ingredients that are great for mimicking the perfect environment for a succulent that would otherwise be hard to get your hands on (i.e. volcanic pumice and worm castings). On top of all of that, each order comes with a handwritten note from the owners! You never forget that you are supporting a small business when purchasing anything from FatPlants.
You can tell immediately that this is a high-quality soil as soon as you touch it. The lightness of the soil allows for a lot of air circulation. The soil is hand mixed in small batches with a special blend made up mostly of pearlite, volcanic pumice, sand, worm castings, and bone meal, which creates a highly nutritious environment for your succulents!
Ironically, the pro of this soil is the texture, but the con of this soil is also the texture. Although the soil has an airiness to it, there is also a bit of dampness to it as well. It’s clear that the soil retains water more than a usual succulent soil. What this means is that you'll have to water your soil on a tighter schedule, since it keeps a bit more water in than the usual succulent soil. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, you'll see why I've marked this soil as the best potting soil for cactus on this list.
Propagating your own succulents? Trying your hand at buying a budding succulent that hasn’t quite taken root yet? Then I’d highly suggest this soil!
So TerrarGreen Creations is a little different from the other soils here as it is not pre-mixed. Instead, it has all the ingredients for an amazing soil mix that you can create yourself. I know that it sounds daunting to try to do it yourself because you should leave it to the professionals, right? No way!
There are many plant parents that exclusively mix their own soils. But mixing your own soils from scratch is very daunting and can get very expensive. TerraGreen Creations is a great middle ground. It’s one of the cheaper options on this list and allows you to get creative. And what’s wrong with that?
I love that the mix comes with a great step by step guide that’s fun and foolproof. The actual materials in there are all organic and really high quality! It gives you a lot of freedom in how you’d like to mix your soils, and every bag comes with a helpful guide to make the whole process easy. It’s a really great introduction to what really makes up succulent soils and how you can have control over it.
There’s not a lot I don’t like about this soil! That being said, if you are a “set it and forget it” type of person, then this mix is probably not for you. It does take planning, learning, trial, and error to really mix your own soils. And this is a safe space to fine-tune exactly the kind of botanist that you want to be!
Does the term DIY make you faint? I wouldn’t suggest this soil mix at all. Does the idea of mixing a big batch of peat moss and charcoal make you feel like some sort of succulent seer? Then, yes, waste no time getting this soil. TerraGreen Creations can help you transform a handful of reclaimed organic matter into a supercharged succulent soil!
Something that makes Superfly stand out as most companies where you buy soil from will make soil second to selling the actual plants. Superfly puts their soil mixes in the forefront and constantly works on making available the best potting soil for your plant friends.
This mix is pre-mixed, pre-sifted, and mostly non-organic. O.K. so you might be recoiling at the term “non-organic” but in this situation that just means that it has little to no soil or organic material. And that’s a good thing! Too much organic material is definitely not good for a succulent, so this is a great direction to go in for a hardy plant.
It’s definitely different from the other soils because it’s made up of larger pieces of materials. Succulents’ roots need something really hold on to so this is an amazing mix to have big healthy roots. The bag is also resealable, which makes for easy storage!
This is one nearly perfect in all aspects, but I would say the price on it could break the bank for some prospective succulent owners.
If you don’t mind the price and if you are working with larger and hardy succulents, this is the perfect mix for you. It will create a great system for drainage and promote a strong system of roots as well that will make your little green friends happy.
Bonsai Jack is definitely a winner in my heart. It’s definitely the fastest draining soil mix on this list. Bonsai Jack is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to a lot of different textures and high-quality materials that make up a superb mix. The secret to their success? I think that part of the reason is that this brand doesn’t do anything but make soil mixes.
You go on to their website, you won’t find cheesy planters and watering cans with a little button in the corner that say “oh yeah, we have soil too!”. Not with Bonsai Jack. They are dedicated only to soil mixes and are the absolute best. Plenty of brands like to use reclaimed materials in their mixes, but this brand specifically manufactures everything to their specifications for their soil mix. And that’s just going above and beyond any standard that the average plant owner would have.
There are so many size options! Which is kind of rare in the plant world. Sometimes you’ll find a soil that you really like, but you’ll only find a small bag or bag large enough to landscape a football field! So it’s very refreshing to see a brand cater to the needs of every kind of aspiring botanist. The soil is very gritty for not only great draining power but also is very lightweight. My favorite part is, of course, the resealable bag makes storage so much simpler.
The problem with this brand that I see is that it sometimes works too well. The water can pass right through it and for some succulents, that’s no problem and others might be left thirsty for more. Another issue is that all of those high-quality materials come at a price, and that price might not be too pretty for the average budding plant owner.
Bonsai Jack is definitely a great soil mix to use as long you’re willing to pay a little bit more for this quality of soil. And it’s so perfect it works too well! So watch out for that drainage and make sure that your plants are getting everything that they need.
The Why of the Buy - How to Find the Right Mix for Your Succulent
It’s all nice and grand being able to read a list of the top 5 succulents, scroll down to number one, and buy it right then and there. You might be thinking, “That’s what this entire article was leading up to, right? To try to upsell me on whatever they choose is number one, right?”. And perhaps you might be thinking, “How could it not be the best if it wasn’t number one?”.
Well, that’s not necessarily true. Just because something is the best, doesn’t mean that it is the best for you or for the needs of your succulents. In this buyer’s guide, we’re going to explore a little bit more into what makes the best soil mixes the best and what to look out for when choosing the right soil for you. There are a lot of different factors that come into play when choosing the right soil mix and it’s important to look out for these to understand how to promote the health and happiness of your little green friends. So let’s get into the traits of the perfect mix for your succulents.
Drainage, drainage, drainage. It’s hands-down the most important key to happy, healthy succulents. First and foremost, it’s highly suggested to have a pot that has holes at the bottom for drainage. Succulents are easily prone to root rot, so it’s important to allow any excess water to drain downwards.
It’s also crucial not to overwater them. Watering your succulents every 7-10 days is a fantastic rule of thumb for when you are first starting out in the world of succulents. It’s also important not to have soil that retains water. If you have soil that retains water, then it wouldn’t matter how often or sparingly you water your succulents because soils like that are designed to hold all of that water and draw it right to the roots. Wet roots sitting in puddles of water does not make happy succulents.
So there are endless different rocks, clays, and other materials that can be included in soils for succulents. When people usually think of soil, they might think of dirt mixed with some rocks and pearlite (the little white parts in soil which are mined bits of volcanic rock), but with succulent soil, it’s completely the opposite. Succulent soil is comprised of only about 10-20% of actual dirt; the other 80-90% is a mixture of sand, gravel, worm casting, and bark.
Now, this might sound a little strange because, really, what do worm castings have to do with healthy little succulents? Well, everything in a mix exists for a reason. Pine bark works as a great insulator, they protect the roots from extreme cold or heat. They also work well with acid-loving plants such as succulents. Clay is also good for succulents as they are more nutrient-rich than most soils; they draw in nutrients that are good for healthy plants, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. And worm castings extract toxins and fungi from the soil while stimulating healthy root structures.
Now you might have noticed certain words thrown around in this article like “supple”, “dry”, and lots of descriptions of particle sizes. Having soil with many different textures is perfect for succulents. Remember, the thing that you and all of the best succulent soils are trying to accomplish is one thing: to replicate a succulent’s natural environment to the most detailed degree. You can tell whether or not the soil is right for you just by touching it. There should be a variation of particle sizes, mostly dry particles, sparingly, moist particles, and it possesses an airiness to it when you hold it in your hands.
A soil that feels damp right out of the bag is probably not the soil for you. That means that it will retain a lot of water and overload your plant with too many nutrients. Soil that feels like all the same sized rocks is probably not for you either. That means that the soil either doesn’t have enough nutrients or that it won’t retain enough water to promote healthy plant growth.
The Best Soil For Succulents - Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use a Normal Potting Mix for Succulents?
Absolutely not! Normal plants need a lot of water to survive and having soil that can retain that water is perfect for them but not for succulents. The only instance that I would suggest to use normal potting mix is if you are making your own soil mix from scratch and even then, please use it only sparingly.
Another issue is that normal mix is just packed with nutrients. That might sound like a good thing, but if there are too many nutrients, it can cause your succulents to wither. Having too high levels of nutrients can cause the soil to be toxic to the succulent. You can tell if there are too many nutrients when you see the succulent losing it’s natural waxiness and starts shriveling up. So please try to use soil specifically mixed for succulents.
Can I Use a Cactus Mix for My Succulents?
I wouldn’t suggest using a cactus mix unless it stipulates that it is a cactus and succulent mix. This is for the simple fact that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti, so they should be treated differently. Using a mix only made for cacti wouldn’t provide the succulents with the nutrients they need and could result in slumping, sad, and discolored succulents. The best all-around for solution for both cacti and succulents is our choice for the best cacti soil.
Can I Just Use Rocks as Soil Mix?
However, be mindful of the size of the rocks. You can’t just put a couple of large river rocks in a planter and call it a day. There still needs to be some amount of soil in there because rocks, alone, cannot provide any kind of nutrients to support a healthy root system. And, as stated before, succulents still need nutrients that can only come from the soil that they are in.
Can I Put My Succulent in a Pot with No Drainage Holes?
Surprisingly, yes! No doubt, you’ve seen those Instagram plant moms with their succulents in teacups and model airplanes. And there is absolutely no doubt that a teacup is much more interesting than a normal terracotta pot, but you do have to be mindful of the kind of soil you use.
I suggest soil with peat moss. Peat moss is perfect for drawing excess water away from the roots without having a drainage hole at the bottom. Another thing you could use is lining the container with landscaping fabric. When they are ready to be watered, you can just take the entire plant out, water it, and let the bottom drain completely before putting it back in the container.
How Much Soil Do I Need for My Succulents?
Not as much as you’d think, actually. Succulents have very shallow root systems, which is part of the reason why they can grow just about anywhere. A perfect example of this are vertical gardens. They are shallow shadow boxes that are hung vertically against the wall to show off beautiful succulents as works of art because let’s be honest, they absolutely are.
Keeping your small crop of succulents alive and healthy is your main goal on your journey to find the perfect soil, and by reading the top five list and the buying guide, you’ve taken one big step in the right direction. Remember to find a soil that’s diverse in texture and materials. Remember that just because the soil is expensive, that doesn’t mean it’s the best, but it is expensive for a reason. And if there’s anything that I want you to take away from this article, it’s drainage, drainage, drainage!