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!

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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 perlite, which is what I did originally. While the soil mixed with perlite 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.

Al’s Gritty Mix (as the soil mixture is called) is very well draining but retains just enough water for the succulents to get what they need. You need to make sure you use the soil in a pot that has a drainage hole otherwise there isn’t any point in having well draining soil as the water will just sit in the bottom of the pot.

The great thing is now you can buy this well draining soil blend online. This pre-mixed and screened succulent soil is available from Bonsai Jack online. His product is extremely high quality. I think his mix is even better than what I made up myself :)

Well Draining Soil for a Succulent Container Gardens - Turface, Crushed Granite, Pine Bark www.succulentsandsunshine.com

Here is the succulent soil mix recipe (you can click the links to purchase the products online, or here to buy it already mixed):

The pine bark provides an organic element and holds water but has air pockets in it and doesn’t break down very quickly. The Turface absorbs some of the water and slowly releases it. The granite doesn’t absorb water but allows the water to flow through the pot between all the particles. The mix is very porous so water flows easily and doesn’t really break down. There is plenty of air so the roots are never sitting in water.

The best soil for succulents is one with large particles that drains well

There is one other important thing you need to know about this or any other soil and that is particle size. Because of the way water travels and flows, having particles of different sizes will prevent water from flowing very well. When you are preparing each of the ingredients for the soil mixture you’ll want to screen them so the particles are about 1/8 – ¼” in size. This can be a long process but I thought it was worth it in the end. As a person who likes to nurture my plants this soil allows me to water more frequently without worrying about overwatering.

If you’d rather not go through the process of screening your own soil, I highly recommend purchasing the pre-made succulent soil from Bonsai Jack online. It comes pre-screened and is extremely high quality! I no longer mix my own as I found the pre-made mix to be much more convenient.

Now are you ready to get your succulents potted in well draining soil to promote better root health and succulent growth? I was amazed at how much of a difference the soil made for maintaining healthier plants. Have you found a particular soil mix that has worked well for you?

246 Responses to Well draining soil for succulent container gardens

  1. This soil seems like it would be great for planting one plant. It doesn’t look like it would work well for a designed multi plant planter. It looks like it would be difficult working with say 6 plants. What are your thoughts?

    • This is the only soil that I use and I have never had any problems with planting large groups of succulents in it.

  2. I too have always loved succulents but not until recently had I considered making them into a garden. After having open heart dithery and suffering a stroke with residuak blindness and retiring nearly 40 year nursing career. I’ve needed something to do THST will give me the opportunity to care for something. This is s perfect sutebfirbinfirmatio and instruction. So glad Zi found you.
    Warm regards,
    Beverly Macey

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Wondering who I am?

Let me introduce myself... My name is Cassidy Tuttle and I’m a professional photographer turned succulent addict. These are my two sweet children and wonderful husband in the photo with me!

My adventure with succulents started with three small plants on the window sill of my basement apartment. Within a year I had propagated them and purchased more, totaling over 100 plants!

It’s been a fun adventure since then as I’ve drowned, burned, frozen, and starved my collection of succulents. This site is where I teach you how to avoid all those mistakes I made or help you recover from them.

While I’ve killed plenty of succulents in the last few years, I’ve also kept hundreds alive and thriving, and I know you can do the same!

Did I mention I wrote the book on succulents?

It’s true! I’m the author of Idiot’s Guides: Succulents which is designed to help those of us who love succulents (but are limited to growing on our window sills and porches) keep our succulents looking great.

You can purchase my book through my Amazon affiliate link here or pick it up at your local Barnes and Noble.

If printed books aren’t your thing, I’ve also written several ebooks about succulents on various topics including indoor growing, watering and propagating. You can check those out on this page.

My goal is to help you not just keep your succulents alive, but help them thrive no matter where you live.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff!

I’m impressed you’ve made it this far down. You should probably be rewarded for that…

How about some bite sized succulent tips delivered daily to your inbox?

I’m sure you’ll love my 30 Days of Quick Succulent Tips email series. Each day I’ll send you a 2-3 sentence tip about growing succulents along with a photo and link to learn more.

Sound good?


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