Well draining soil for succulent container gardens

Having well draining soil is crucial for succulents. This post has the perfect succulent soil mix recipe and tells you where to buy the components!

Most of my succulent gardening is done in containers, whether indoors or outdoors. I’m able to bring my succulents outside in the summer, but for about 2/3 of the year my plants are inside. I do have several containers of cold hardy succulents that I leave outdoors year round. I’ve done a lot of research about the best type of soil for succulent container gardens and I’ve tried several things, some of which work much better than others. 

I wanted to tell you today about the best soil I’ve used for my succulents. You’ve heard me talk about the Garden Web Forum before and I want to make sure I give proper credit to Al from the forum. He is the one (as far as I know) that came up with the soil mix that I use for my containers. If you want to read his post about why this is such a great soil for succulents, you can check out that post here.

Succulent soil is so important to keeping them alive! Find out the best soil for succulents in this post!
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’

The first thing you need to know is that succulent roots do not get water from direct contact. Rather, they absorb the water molecules in the air. This is why having a succulent sitting in sopping wet soil is so problematic and makes the plant rot.

Everywhere you read about succulent soils they talk about having well draining soil. A lot of people recommend using regular soil and mixing in something like pearlite, which is what I did originally. While the soil mixed with pearlite worked ok for a while it still didn’t dry out quickly enough and I ended up with quite a few plants with early signs of rot. That is when I started researching the best soils for succulents.

Click next to get the recipe for the perfect succulent soil mix!


(I’ll also tell you why the mix is so great and show you where you can buy the mix already made!)

Don't let your succulents die because you don't know how to properly water them!

150 Responses to Well draining soil for succulent container gardens

    • I had a hard time finding the supplies in my area because “box” stores don’t carry them. I found Turface at a farming/agricultural store. The pine bark and crushed rock I found at a nursery.

      • Turface, aka diatomaceous earth, is also conveniently sold at Napa Autoparts as Floor-Dry Part #8822. They sell a couple different kinds of floor dry so be sure to get the 8822 which has diatamaceous earth listed as the main and only ingredient.

        A 24qt bag yielded about 14 qts of 1/8″-1/4″ material for my soil mix. The bag cost 10$. A great deal! The wonders of straying from the comfortable proprietary path of soil amendments : )


        • Very true! I’ve used Oil-dri (as it’s called at my local auto store) and found it to work quite well. My only complaint was a little more dust and small particles than the other options I had access to. Definitely a great price though!

  1. I love succulents and terrariums but much of what I have done has been trial and error. It’s so nice to have someone to document all of this, so the rest of us can learn.
    I love your blog and discovered it at the perfect time as I am creating terrarium centerpieces for my wedding in August.

  2. I’ve been using the miracle grow cactus soil in my indoor succulent containers. At this point I’ve given up on growing them indoors and have decided to keep all my succulents outdoors. Would you suggest this same soil mixture for outside succs? I’ve read that peat moss is a great option?

    • All of my succulents are planted in this soil whether they are in pots indoors or out. You could use a soil that has more of an organic element in it, but for the most part I would stay away from peat moss. When it dries out, and succulent soils should be allowed to dry out, it almost repels water. This makes it hard to water the plants again and get a thorough watering. I would look for a soil that has very little peat when you are looking for soil for pots.

  3. I have a quick question! Currently most of my succulents are in pots that do NOT have holes in them. A lot of them I bring inside almost every night, and during the winter I keep them inside. I only am using that pre-made succulent mix (I dont understand how they even consider this stuff succulent kind) and I was wondering if you think its worth it for me to mix up this soil recipe of yours for my plants. I feel like I will have stagnant water sitting in the bottom of a lot of the pots because it will run through so fast. I usually just spray them heavily in the hot sun and let them completely dry out again to water.

    I guess short story is, is potting my plants in this extreme fast draining mix a good idea without holes in my pots?

  4. http://www.etsy.com/listing/129866426/sedum-succulent-cactus-soil-eco-friendly?ref=usr_faveitems

    Love your blog and im currently obsessed with propagation, thanks to your book. I found your blog just in time! Anyway, wondering what your thoughts are on this medium. I already bought some but haven’t actually tried it yet because I still have soil to go through. Plus I’m planning on using it for an vertical garden, but I’m waiting on my cuttings. :) Thanks.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the eBook. As far as the link you sent, I think it will probably be fine. You’ll just want to make sure you allow time for the soil to dry out in between waterings, but I’m guessing it will work pretty well for a vertical garden. I wouldn’t use it in a pot, but it should be fine vertically. I’d love to see what you end up doing!

    • Wow, that is cool. I’ve never seen it before. It’s probably good for arrangements and gifts, too. Cacti soil & gritty mix is much cheaper in the long run though.

  5. Thanks for the info. I am going crazy trying to find something to grow my plants in. I too have lost plants to commercial mixes with lots of peat.

    Do you need to fertilize more by using this mix? I was thinking of using coir because I can’t find the pine bark and someone commented that it doesn’t provide nutrients. It’s not really any trouble to add plant food, but now I wonder how often.

  6. I am so in love with everything about this blog! The design, the photography, the information! It is all presented in such a lovely way! Props to you! I am beyond inspired to begin designing my own “soil” and succulent display!

  7. i have my succulents in the same soil i bought them in. I have lost two of my succulents due to rotting. I really need help! What should i do? Im a beginner and have 4 succulents and 1 cactus (not including the two that died)

    • Generally the soil the plants come in is not good for succulents. It retains too much water which succulents do not like. While succulents do need adequate water, sitting in a damp soil is going to rot them really quickly. I would try mixing something like pearlite or pumice into your soil so it drains better and doesn’t stay soaking wet as long.

    • It’s up to you. The gritty mix does take some effort to make but I love it. On the other hand, adding in pearlite or pumice will still dramatically help out your soil.

  8. This is very eye-opening: none of the ingredients in this soil are actually soil (in the traditional sense) if I’m not mistaken. I would never have guessed that there didn’t need to be soil in the mix!

  9. Hi, I’ve been reading your blog eversince I purchased my first succulent plant last month. Your blog is informative and inspirational for first time garderner like me.
    I have prepared a soil mix for propogation. This is potting soil and perlite in equal measures and my cuttings are faring pretty well. I was wondering if the same mix can be used for repotting store-bought adult succulent plants which came in normal potting soil. By the way I live in Inda and its warm climate with humidity below 50%.


    • Thanks for stopping by! It sounds like your soil mixture should be just fine. I would just say to make sure you are careful not to over water. It sounds like you should be good though!

  10. Thanks for the helpful info!

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and can’t seem to find Turface readily available anywhere. What will be a good substitute?

    Also, instead of crushed granite, can I use course sand (they are about 3mm large)?

    • Course sand would work well for the granite. The turface is basically diatomaceous earth. I know some people have used kitty litter or something like this oil dri from a local automotive store. I would make sure there aren’t any chemicals added that might hurt the plants, but otherwise you should be good with either of those!

  11. Hello Cassidy,
    My Grandfather recently passed away and since I was a child I always remember the hens n chicks in his garden and have loved them. He was a 102 when he passed and he was a wonderful gardener. I wanted to preserve this memory and with the permission of my dad I was able to take some hens n chicks home with me to keep. I am desperately trying to find the best information to preserve this memory. I am a little confused because your mix does not have any potting soil or peat moss in it….it seems like everywhere else I look for mix recipes there is some sort of “soil” component. I would love some direction, I am feeling lost.

  12. Question:
    I am 72 years old and just now learning about succulents and having a love for them. I know so little except not to water too much. I have tried different soils recommended but am interested in the formula of Als Gritty Mix and do not know where to purchase it. the two questions I have in mixing is: What is Turface? and Is Pine Bark Fines the same as pine bark mulch? We live in Tyler Texas and will have to call around to nurseries but first wanted to know the answers. I probably could find crushed granite. Would appreciate information that would incourage me. to start. I was going to plant in a mix of my own until I read yours. I want the best results. Thank you

    • Great question! At the end of the post is a link to a list of where to buy supplies for the gritty mix by state, which may be helpful for you.

      Turface is a brand of diatomaceous earth. I currently use a brand called Axis, but you can use oil-dry or kitty litter as well. I’ve found the axis and turface work a little better than the others as the particles are a little bigger, but they are harder to find. I found them locally at an agricultural supply store called Steve Regan Company.

      The pine bark fines are different than mulch, although they are in mulch. Mulch will have much smaller particles and be more dirt like whereas the fines will be about 1/4″ pieces of bark.

      Hopefully that helps! Best of luck to you.

  13. Hi Cassidy,

    I’m considering switching over from my current cactus soil + perlite mix since I tend to get fungus gnats in the spring + summer time. Do you think this soil-less mix will help the issue?

    What is the best way to screen the particles? I’d like to avoid having to buy sifting tools to screen them. and finally, would this mix also be suitable for cacti?

    Thanks for all the thorough information so far!

    • I definitely think switching the soil could help. I’ve since decided that sifting isn’t worth the effort. When I did it though I used window screening. It wore out pretty quickly so if avoid using an actual window screen that you need :)

      This soil will work for cactus as well.

  14. Hi Cassidy,

    First off I wanted to say I purchased your indoor succulent growing ebook and it has been immensely helpful!

    I’ve successfully transferred my plants to a bonsai mix (hoffman’s bonsai mix) which contains turface, bark fines, crushed sand and expanded shale.. This was a lot easier than finding those inorganic soils on their own. So far, I think my succulents like it, as the cuttings are growing lots more fuzzy white roots than before. (this could also be co-incidentally bc the weather is getting a bit nice too :p)

    I was wondering tho, how to differentiate healthy roots from unhealthy succulent roots? I find that some of the roots are a brown and dry vs. white vs. fuzzy and white. If they are brown, does that mean they have dried up due to lack of water or damage?

    Also, although my plants seem to like the new mix, its really difficult to get them to stand upright and plant them without fear of damaging the roots.. do u have any tips for this?

    Thanks so much!

    • Glad you’ve found the ebook helpful! Healthy roots will be plump and white or pink. If you are seeing dry brown roots they are probably under watered. If they are blackish and soggy then they are over watered. Fuzzy and white, I’m not quite sure, but I would guess healthy unless it looks like a fungus or something growing on it.

      Once it has established roots the plants should stand up better in the mix. I would say you could lean the plant up against just about anything, such as a rock or stick. You could also use pebbles around the base of the plant to give it more support. I would avoid anything that sticks down into the soil.

  15. Omgosh- thank you!! This is soooo what I need!!! Over watering is my main problem, even when I am light handed w/it, it’s still too much!!! I’ve always over wintered my pots in the garage because they never do well inside. I would love to be able to have a few inside….I have enough available light & this seems like the answer. I can’t wait to try this soil recipe both outside & in!!!! Thanks so much!!!! Now I’m off to buy your ebooks!!! ;))

  16. Hello Cassidy,
    Thank you very much for your informative blog! Wish I found it earlier.
    I’ve decided to repot my succulents after reading this. But there is absolutely no Turface where I live (Vietnam). Neither pumice nor DE. :(
    Is there anything else I can use in place of Turface? Oh, and we have perlite though.
    Many thanks!

    • I would say to give the pearlite a try. From my experience it tends to break down pretty quickly, but I think if you mix about half soil and half pumice you should be good. You could also try coconut coir if that is available in your area!

  17. […] When I purchased Matt and Jenna I also bought a pot and some regular potting soil. This was my first mistake. The thing is that Succulents and Cacti need the ability to drain water much more than regular plants need, or they will rot. The sand and perlite/wood chips help with this. You can purchase potting soils specifically for cacti and succulent, or easily find a recipe online and mix up your own. […]

  18. Hi Cassidy, I spent all day yesterday looking for the 3 soil components I needed for the succulents we purchased a couple weeks ago. We looked everywhere! ( Calloway,Loews,Home Depot…etc
    So, after many questions, Employees/Gardeners advice and lack of what we needed, we came home with expanded shale, verticulate, lava sand and Black Gold Cactus mix. Each person saying these would work great for my succulents. Do you have any advice for me? Can I use any combination of these products to achieve the result needed to grow my succulents? I live in Texas, its always so hot, little rain, and if it aint a hardy plant it will die! …. my black thumb doesn’t help matters… Thank you for any help, Lais

    • You’ve been diligent! I think the Cacuts mix, lava sand and shale would be a great combination. I would do equal parts of all three. I have heard that vermiculite isn’t great as it tends to get soggy and decompose pretty quickly. You could give it a try though! I’m always experimenting. I currently have my succulents in a combination of oil-dry (a type of diatomaceous earth, like Turface) and coconut coir and it’s worked pretty well. I would say to make sure you keep your succulents in the shade initially. They don’t tend to tolerate really hot unless they’ve been acclimated to it first. Once you’ve had them in the shade for a while, gradually move them out into the sun for a couple hours a day. Since it doesn’t rain often, I would make sure you really soak your succulents well before letting them dry out (assuming they’re in a pot that drains). This will help them establish strong roots and allow them to go longer between watering. In the really hot season though you’ll want to water at least once a week. Hopefully that helps!

      • Hi Cassidy!
        Thank you for the advice! I will mix equal parts and take back the verticulate. They are in a pot that drains well, I am hoping the soil mix will help too. We bought the plant from Loews, the sales associate said they had been in the sun for a couple weeks, so it took well to full sun so far ( no blushing yet ). Thank you for the watering tips I have had a heavy hand in the past…. Think after killing numerous plants I learned my lesson!
        It’s a well established grouping of 5 or 6 succulents. They are so beautiful. We bought your ebook on how to Propagate Succulents, and my girlfriends and I are planning on having a leaf trading party at some point. I will keep you posted about the new soil mix we are testing out. I love your Blog, Thank you!!

  19. I switched to this mix, and now I have drying, shriveling leaves on the lower parts of branches on my jade plant. Am I not watering often enough now?

    • It’s possible your plant needs a little more water after switching to this soil, however, the lower leaves of succulents will die eventually. If your new growth is dying then there is definitely a problem.

    • What a great posts and amazing reply . I would like just to remind other to pay attention to other factors as well like weather humidity and the frequency of watering . There seems a close attention to soil ingredients mix in here . I suggest the importance of how often you water should work with the soil mix you have . I used normal soil from home Depo over left from my garden but I have some car wash spunges at bottom of the pot to drain the water . It seems to work for me and I water once a week . Just my trial and error I like to share

  20. May I ask what nursery you got your crushed granite and pine bark fines from? I’m in SLC as well and have called a couple places with no luck. Thanks in advance!

  21. I noticed that you live in Utah. I also live in Utah. I love all your ideas and information, especially knowing that we live in the same climate. I was wondering where you get your ingredients for your soil mix?

  22. Cassidy,
    I am currently using the miracle gro cactus miX mixed with sand and perlite. About 1/3 of it is the soil. When I shopped for soil I couldn’t find any without peat . Some of my succulents are growing well but some not so much. Should I re-pot in the gritty mix ? Most of them are fairly new. I don’t know if re-potting so soon again will hurt them ?

    • That is tricky since the plants are new. If your sand isn’t a large grit that could actually be part of the problem as it’s pretty heavy and small. Maybe take the succulents that aren’t doing well and repot those, then see how the rest do in their current mix. A lot of succulent care is trial and error unfortunately.

  23. i live in a rural area. I found the turface and grit at my local feed co-op and the pine bark fines at the local hardware. Check your local stores.

  24. Hi! I got a few succulents last week and I’ve been having a lot of fun reading up! Yesterday, though, two of the leaves on one plant got a big spot on it that darkened and wrinkled on one and lightened and wrinkled on the other. I think maybe it’s sunburn because I set them outside for a bit in the harsh az sun(110°!) And it hasn’t spread at all. If you need, I can send pictures, but I’d really like to know if I can nurse the leaves back! Thanks.

    • If you can send me some photos that would be great. I’m guessing you’re right that it is sunburn. There isn’t a way to revive the leaves, any damage is permanent, but if you keep caring for your plant it will grow new leaves and the older ones will die.

  25. For those finding it difficult to get crushed granite, a good option is Poultry Grit. It is crushed granite. You can get it at feed stores, such as Tractor Supply. It comes in different sizes of stone so make sure you get the type with particles approximately 1/8-1/4″. Smaller than that and your soil will clog.

    Also, be sure to sift the Turface, Floor Dri, or whatever product you choose for the second part of the gritty mix. It is VERY dusty which can sometimes be a problem. Wear a mask while you do this so you don’t inhale it. I live in a breezy place, so I let the wind do my “sifting” for me. I purchased 5 gallon paint buckets with lids. (Less than $5 at a home improvement store.) I stand out in the yard perpendicular to the wind. (I don’t want it blowing in my face or to have my body blocking the breezes.) I fill one bucket about half full of grit and very slowly pour it into the second bucket from a height of 2-3″. The rock will fall while the dust is blown away. You will have to do this MANY times. I did it a dozen times or more. I did it again after mixing the grit in. You won’t be able to get rid of all of the dust, but every little bit helps. It’s definitely a good workout!

    You can also leave out the bark if you wish. It’s hard to find it in the 1/4″ size you need. The particles need to be pretty uniform for the mix to be effective.

    This is a lot of work and appears to be expensive, but it’s not because unlike soil with dirt, this mix is reusable!

    One more hint…you can fill a bucket half way with the components of the mix and cover it tightly. Then roll it around on the ground to mix it up. From time to time tump it end over end and then just roll some more until it’s well mixed. I just store it in the bucket so it stays nice and dry.


  26. I didn’t read all 80+ comments, so this may be redundant, but what is the difference between “Turface” and “Akadama”? Wikepedia does not have “Turface” listed, but it is mentioned under Akadama, and that reference stated that they are not the same thing and that Turface does not have the same qualities regarding soil… your thoughts?

    • It could be that Akadama is similar, or a different brand. I’m not familiar with Akadama so I can’t say for sure. But, any sort of Diatomaceous Earth should be a good alternative to Turface if you can’t get a hold of any.

  27. Thanks so much for all the great information. I live in Key Largo, Fl. It can get really hot & humid here & I am currently trying to put together a mix for my succulents, which I currently growing outside in the open. So when it rains they get very wet & then still have to deal with the humidity. So far I have got coir for part of my mix & poultry grit. I have some perlite I can add to it & was wondering about adding some crushed oyster shell. Very challenging growing succulents down here!

    • I think the perlite could be good, although it can get smashed with the weight of the other components. I would think the oyster shell would work as well. It sounds like you’re on the right track. I’d use more poultry grit than the recipe calls for. Since it doesn’t hold as much water it will help the soil drain even better.

  28. Do you think a bonsai soil mix would work? The recipe seems just about the same. I found a succulent mix recipe online at getbusygardening.com. It calls for 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts sand, and 1 part perlite. I have been trying it out on some of my succulents and they seem to be doing pretty good.

  29. Hi, I have a question. I have read that succulents do not like an acidic soil. So, I never put them in acid soil. However, one day I put acid soil under and around my camellia, keeping it away from the nearby succulents. The next day I came out and saw that a landscaper had moved the acid soil and spread it all around and under the succulents. I was sure I was going to lose them. However from a week or two later, until now – almost two years later, those are the healthiest succulents on my property. Have you heard of this before?

    Otherwise, thank you for the recipe for my succulents in containers, just perfect for them!

    • Actually, the opposite is true. Succulents do like a slightly acidic soil. In this mix I recommend, the turface creates some acidity in the soil which is one of the reasons it works so well.

  30. Hi, I purchased your book for both. I have outdoor succulent garden not in containers. Do you think I can use this soul mix for outdoor succulents? I am in Southern California and this winter is expected with a lot of rain. I want to prevent my succulents for on dying. Also when I am amending the soil, should I rinse off all the soil around the root and plant them in this soil mix? What is the best way to replace the soil and what to do with the soil around the root?

    • As far as I know this mix will work for containers and in the ground. The soil underneath this mix may still impact the watering needs, but using this as a top soil should really help with the drainage. This post goes into more detail, but I do recommend removing as much soil as possible from the roots before planting. You can save the soil and use it elsewhere or discard it.

      • Thanks a lot. I finally got all three ingredients and tried on the clay soil area first that tends to be wet all the time.

  31. Hi I’m from Srilanka. It is very hard to find the succulent soil or other ingredients. May I know where can I get those ingredients to make succulent soil?

    • I’m not sure where to buy the supplies in Srilanka, although you can contact Bonsai Jack and see if he can ship some soil to you. I know overseas shipping can be quite expensive though.

      You can also try to find some similar substitutes. Try checking with a local nursery to see if they have something similar that could be used.

  32. Hi, I have a few questions!

    Do you have experience in planting succulents in plain rocks or gravel?
    And with all the talk about rot, what about without any kind of substrate? I imagine you’d have to spray the plant roots regularly, but do you think it’s possible?

    • I’ve planted in just diatomaceous earth before, so similar to gravel but it does absorb water and likely has smaller particles than gravel. It is possible to keep succulents alive in something like gravel but you’ll have to water more frequently. They still need time to absorb the water so it’s better if the soil holds some water at least for a day or two. With the gravel water would flow out almost immediately and wouldn’t give the succulent much time to absorb what it needs. It would be an interesting experiment to try though!

      As far as planting without any soil, I’m sure it can be done but I don’t know that the succulents would survive for very long, but again it would be fun to try!

  33. So happy I just found this blog! Can’t wait to try this soil mix! I’m a ceramist and just made myself a massive garden bowl to fill and was curious what your thoughts were on adding a layer of charcoal to remove impurities. I’ve never tried it with my plants but have heard good things. Does it matter if this layer is on the top or bottom of the soil?

    Also, can you recommend a good fertilizer for the growing season?


    • Thank you! I’m not personally a fan of charcoal myself. I’ve used it in pots without drainage to help eliminate a smell, but I didn’t think it helped much with that. I’m not sure what impurities it might remove either. Usually though it would go on the bottom of the pot.

      As far as fertilizer goes, here is my recommendation.

      I’d love to see some of your work if you have a website or online shop!

  34. I have 4 ceramic pots of succulents that have started rotting out. I see i’ve over-watered them. The pots they’re in dont have drainage holes. How can i keep the plants in these pots with the soil mix mentioned above? These were plants from my wedding so i was hoping to keep them alive and in the pots they came in. They did GREAT all summer long, but i’ve had to move them inside for the winter. Thanks for the help!

    • You may want to check out this post to help you save them from the overwatering. To prevent rotting in the future, you can just reduce the amount of water you give them each time and the frequency. If you measure out the amount of water going on you’ll be able to control it better. I cover this in my watering ebook. You can also get smaller pots with drainage holes that fit inside the pots you’re already using. This way you can dump out the excess water which should help prevent them from rotting.

  35. Hello Cassidy,

    I am wondering if regular potting soil w/ perlite is better than cactus soil. If not what can I do to the regular potting soil to make it best for my plants?

    • Adding pumice or perlite will help some, but the biggest issue is the amount of peat moss in the soil. Regular potting soil and most cactus soils you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes will contain quite a bit of peat moss. I’d recommend mixing the cactus soil with pumice (50/50) if you don’t create the mix recommended here.

  36. So glad I found your website! I’ve already killed 3 succulents :( which I bought at the greenhouse of a local Rona hardware store. I’m certain I over-watered them but I’m beginning to suspect the soil just wasn’t ideal and I stupidly transplanted them into these cute little teacups with no drainage holes! Since then I bought another adorable arrangement in a beautiful pot from the same place. This one I didn’t notice that there was not drainage hole and the decorative rocks on the surface seem to be glued there so I can’t tell what kind of soil is in there or how wet/dry it is! So far, two of the plants seem to be doing okay but one has some leaves getting soggy at its base (I don’t know the scientific name but it’s the variety that looks like a lotus flower). Should I keep the arrangement as it is for now and see what happens or should I attempt to stab the rocks out of place and change the soil? Please help! I’d be very grateful for some advice! Thank you!

    • If it were me, I’d replant the arrangement. Remove the rocks if you can, pull the plants out, add a drainage hole, and replace the soil with something new and well draining. It may be a little work, but it’ll make caring for your plants MUCH easier down the road!

  37. Thank god for this site and someone who has gone to so much trouble finding the best mix for our beautiful succulents. My sedum Tri-colour is a fine leaf succulent of the prettiest kind and I’ve killed many with kindness. Mostly over watered and because we live in a frost prone area the cold winter months are hard on them. I’ve just been given this plant back from a gardener I gave it to about 3 years ago . She loves on the coast so the plant gets waters only from the sea mists and occasional watering in middle of summer. I wonder if the salt air hardens up her plants. It is just in sandy soil with some mushroom compost. I put my four healthy cuttings into mushroom compost and when it rained the soil got wet and is taking ages to dry/drain out . Plants are struggling. Luckily the one she gave back to me I’ve left it high and dry. I was desperate enough to find this site of yours Cassidy .. And am looking around for the products to mix. Feeling happier..as I love my plants ans especially this sedum. As I’m in Australia our products may have different names. What is Turface. I’m thinking its stones as in road mix or ashphalt for roads/ stones?? Help.. Once I have this worked out I’ll be potting up and trailing the mix. I will get back to you on my successes. Happy gardening all.. Kathi.. Australia

    • The generic name for Turface is diatomaceous earth (DE) or calcined clay, but I’ve been told that in the UK and Australia DE is generally a powder. Basically, it should be a small rock that absorbs some water. There’s a product here in the US that is used to clean up oil spills that is another more generic equivalent. I hope that helps!

  38. Love your site! I purchased the Bonsai Jack mix and am ready to repot. So you are saying to use only this mix in the pot, or should I do a 50/50 with succulent soil? I live in Florida and purchased succulent soil that is good for succulents in the SE. I’m torn on if I should put Bonsai on top and soil on the bottom or just use the Bonsai soil. I apologize if you have already answered a question similar to this!

  39. What kind of soil is best for glass terrariums with no drainage soil. I recently potted 3 succulents with a cactus into this container that has small stones mixed with activated charcoal on the bottom, topped with 1 sheet of landscaping fabric to keep the soil and the stones from mixing and on top of that cacti soil. Any thoughts on this?

    • That could work. Terrariums can be really tough because they don’t drain. I’ve used this mix in a couple, but anything that has a lot of air and dries quickly should work.

      • This may seem like a silly question but how can I tell if the soil has dried thoroughly so that I know that my plants are ready for their next watering?

        • With a glass terrarium you can usually see a change in color, or even that there isn’t really water in it anymore. You can also feel it when it’s freshly watered and then again later when it’s mostly dried out and get an idea from the weight. Some people will also use a skewer — stick it in the soil and if it comes out wet or dry you’ll know.

  40. One thing I need help with is how to get a succulent flowering after it hasn’t for a year or more .. I have one a bit like a rocky sedum that hasn’t flowered since the time when I purchased it in flower. Small pig face style flowers? The other one is called beer- bottles, not sure it’s botanical name. It has a gold froth style flower coming from all the littlest bottles on bottles style rope strands. A beautiful plant. So I have shared it around and it grows abundantly but not flowered since. . Does it have to be old and really pot bound. Any ideas.

    • I’m not really sure, honestly. I know some don’t bloom every year, so that could be the case? Usually if they are healthy and growing they’ll bloom. Sometimes succulents can be healthy but they aren’t getting enough nutrients or water to grow, so that could be the case.

      • Thanks. I water often so will try less feed to see if this shocks them into flowering..
        I have found an article about Turface that I think you will find interesting. It is from a grower of Bonsai. I would like you or Bonsai jack to whom I’ll sent it also to give some feed back on it before I gather my soil mix supplies. Do you have an email address it can be forwarded to . Kathi..

  41. Hello! I’ve been scouring everywhere for the ingredients to make a gritty mix for all my little succulents, but it’s proven almost impossible to find. Right now they’re all potted in a mix of succulent soil, perlite, and crushed granite.

    I was wondering would it be possible to substitute the gritty mix with a bonsai mix such as this (https://www.amazon.ca/Hoffman-10708-Bonsai-Soil-Quarts/dp/B00147Z8S2). Unfortunately, it’s quite hard to find the necessary materials on their own in Montreal.


  42. I live in the tropics, we have high humidity. You recomend using pumice in the soil mix. Should I use the same gritty mix plus pumice using 1/4 each ingredient. I also need to ask if you dont mix this with a part of normal soil? Is it enough with just the mix? I am having a hard time for translating turface yo spanish. May I use clay pottery particles? Is it the same

    • I just use this mix, no other potting soil. For high humidity areas such as yours, I’d recommend potting in just pumice. This will allow the soil to dry out quickly despite the humidity. This way you won’t have to worry about finding a replacement for turface either.

  43. Hi,
    I was wondering what kind of soil would be best for sowing succulent seeds. I’ve heard that the gritty mix is too harsh for them and that there is a special soil that I need to use for them. Unfortunately, I cannot find it anywhere…
    Does anyone know how to make or find this soil?

  44. You may have already answered this, so I apologize in advance. I just started using the soil mix from bonsai jack (thank you for the recommendation!). Since this soil drains very well, how often do you water your succulents? Thank you.

  45. Cassidy, I just found your blog and it’s great.. Am interested in the succulent mix and where to find components. On March 12 you answered Barb Beaman and said a list for where to buy parts by state would be at end of post. I could not find that list. Also, diatomaceous earth was mentioned as a substitute for turface The diatomaceous earth that I have is a powder, that is for sprinkling around for bugs. There must be another kind? I live in Michigan and would appreciate where I can get the parts. I have not responded to a blog before nor have I read the responses and enjoyed them . Thanks for your time.
    Nancy Berlew

  46. Hello, I appreciate the way you answer reader’s questions, and all the helpful information you give. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this.
    I have found the DE, and poultry grit. I can not locate pine bark fines, and the only coir I could find was the type used in hanging baskets. Is this what is needed or should it be more like a soil? I checked the pet stores for 60 miles around my location, and they only stock crushed walnut shells or chestnut shells. Would these work? Also, is the DE needed for this mix supposed to look like powdery sand? Thank you

    • I’m thinking there must be a different term for DE as it’s supposed to be grainy, not powdery. It will look like small pebbles. An automotive store is actually the easiest place to find it, something like Oil-dri. The pine bark fines look like miniature bark. If you can’t find the pine bark fines or some similar, try a mix without it (equal parts of the DE and grit, assuming you can get DE that is like small gravel). You can try the crushed shells too. I haven’t tried it but it would be worth an experiment! One of the most important things is particle size.

  47. Hello Cassidy!
    I’ve been following your blog for a year or so, and have scoured my city to find the gritty mix ingredients. I found 2 out of 3 and have not have much luck with a crushed granite equivalent. I live in Hawaii, at the end of a wet valley, so you can imagine how important is for me to keep my succulents well drained. I settled for a bag of gravel, but dislike the odd sizes and dust. I am still looking for something like Bonsai Block… but more economical. Even chicken grit is expensive in Hawaii… shipping costs can easily double the price of anything!

    I found fine pine barks as it is used for baby orchids, and turface from a automotive parts store as suggested by someone in your site. But crushed granite?
    Please help!

    • That is tricky! Do you know if you can find pumice? That is another ingredient that people use quite a bit with succulents. It tends to be fairly common, but nothing is really common in Hawaii :) Bonsai Jack does include shipping, even to Hawaii I believe, if you want to go that route. If you can’t find pumice, try just using the two ingredients you have and see how that goes. Do 2 parts turface to one part pine bark fines.

  48. I love the site and truly appreciate your integrety in siting sources. I tried to order two of your ebooks through paypal and was stopped because the setup did not allow for Alberta, Canada billing. Is there anyway the paypal interface can be amended for Canadians?

    With the increased number of senoirs downsizing to condo living I imagine the interest in succulent container gardening will be increasing.

    Grace Adamson

    • That is really odd… I’ve had people purchase from all over the world using PayPal. I’m not sure why it isn’t working. As far as I can tell everything is operating as it should be. I’m not able to accept credit cards from other countries, but I’m pretty sure using a PayPal account as the payment option gets around that. I’m double checking with PayPal customer service right now, but I likely won’t hear back for a few days.

  49. I am needing some help regarding propagation with leaves. How do you water them during this period? how do you keep water from sitting on the leaves when you spray them? Is there a better way to water them than spraying daily?

    Any help is much appreciated thank you for all of your tips!

  50. I also wanted to ask. I have some babies in need of saving as they are still in the soil I originally had them in… All garden supply stores were closed today (sunday) so I resulted in buying coarse sand (which is really just small pebbles) and perlite. Did a 1:1 mix of that and put them in that for now…. Do you think that’s ok for them?

    Thank you!!

  51. Any suggestions for substitutes for the soil mix, I’ve called everywhere local and I might be able to get some turface for $16.99 but they didn’t know how big the bag was, and no one has crushed granite or fine pine bark mulch. Is there any other mulch or pumice or gravel that you think would work. I’ve tried store cactus soil and hate how the soil separates from the pot, makes watering difficult and then days to dry out, I’ve mixed in sand like some sites say and even worse results. Really want a gritty mix but homemade to save money, and allow enough water to get the plant.

    • I’d recommend looking for a coarse grain sand or pumice. The most important thing is finding something with the right particle size, about 1/4″ (6mm). I know a lot of people who use pumice as their only “soil” ingredient and love it. It drains really fast so you’d have to water more often. But, basically look for some sort of material with a “large” particle size and give that a try.

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I'm Cassidy, a professional photographer turned succulent addict and the author and photographer here at Succulents and Sunshine. This is me with my wonderful husband and super cute baby!

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