Succulents thrive best in a temperate temperature with the right type of soil. They prefer porous sandy potting soil since it dries faster than other types of soil. However, in the absence of sandy potting soil, you may be wondering if other soil types are ideal for your plants. In this article, we will find out if cactus soil is a good alternative for succulents.
Can I use cactus soil for succulents?
Yes, you can use cactus soil for succulents since cacti are also a type of succulents. What works for cactus when it comes to soil can work for other succulent types, too. Succulents and cacti thrive well in a well-draining and airy growing medium, which is what cactus soil provides.
Good quality cactus soil has air pockets, high-drainage properties, and strong nutrient retention qualities that satisfy the needs of a succulent. Some cactus mixes use ingredients like coco coir, peat moss, coarse sand, pumice, and perlite.
What do succulents need from the soil?
Succulents used to be endemic to the arid lands of the desert. They have developed survival techniques in order to survive harsh desert conditions, such as a lack of water because of low rainfall. In such conditions, there is also a high water evaporation rate due to the hot and sunny weather.
Succulents can develop a lifestyle that tolerates such conditions as insufficient water. Inversely, waterlogged soil is unfamiliar to succulents. They are unable to survive in such a soil type because they are used to small amounts of water. They need soil that is airy and drains fast.
What is cactus soil?
Cactus soil provides a better base for cactus roots than regular soil as it keeps roots and stems from sitting in moisture. Too much moisture can result in root rot. This type of soil is available in most garden centers and nurseries. This planting mix for cacti has superior drainage and dries quickly after watering. Cacti usually harvest the moisture that they need immediately, so excess water needs to be drained to prevent rot and fungal disease.
Commercial mixes for cactus soil use classic soil elements and add peat to hold moisture. Once the peat dries out, it does not absorb water again and the pot becomes too dry. Homemade cactus soil can be tailor- made for your specific cactus varieties; a certain soil mix is not always right for every cactus variety or growing region.
How can I make cactus soil?
While commercial cactus soil is good quality soil, it is cheaper if you make your own mixture. If you are living in an area with an arid climate, add peat to your potted plants. Just don’t let it dry completely. The usual mixture would be one part washed sand, one part soil, and one part grit (like pebbles or pot shards). You could also try five parts potting soil, two parts pumice, and one part coir. You can adjust the parts of the mixture depending on the variety of succulent that you have.
What are the components of a good succulent potting soil?
These are the components of a good succulent potting soil:
1. It should be well-draining.
Soil should drain well and quickly. Loose and grainy soil is the ideal substrate for succulents.
2. It should have good aeration.
The roots should have space to breathe and to create a sustainable environment for useful organisms in the soil.
3. It should be non-compacting and breathable soil.
The soil should be non-compacting and not sticky so that moisture won’t be retained for a long period. This helps the plant to be able to breathe.
4. It should contain just the right nutrients.
Excessive nutrients in the soil result in unpleasant and brittle plants, so the soil should contain the right amount of proper nutrients.
How do I make succulent soil at home?
Here are the materials that you need for your DIY succulent soil:
- Gardening gloves
- Measuring cup
- Trowel or shovel
- A bucket or plastic bin
- Common gardening soil
- Perlite or pumice
- Coarse sand
Measuring the succulent soil
The ideal mixing ratio of the ingredients is two parts sand, two parts gardening soil, and one part perlite or pumice. The right measurement is essential so that the desired drainage, aeration, and compactness will be achieved. If you convert to cups, it would be three cups sand, three cups soil and 1.5 cups of perlite or pumice.
Pumice or perlite aim to help with aeration and drainage. It is also useful in holding nutrients and moisture together. Using one alone or combining pumice and perlite results in a rich potting mix. The sand’s role is to make the potting mix less compact and to increase the drainage, while the gardening soil is to provide nutrients for the plants.
Mixing the DIY succulent soil
With your gloves on, begin to moisten the garden soil so that the dust won’t come up in the mixing container. Next, add the sand and mix well. Finally, scoop in the perlite or pumice and stir thoroughly until the mixture is evenly combined. That’s it! You now have your DIY succulent soil, ready to be used for your succulents if you intend to pot or repot them. It is also ideal to set some aside and store it for future use.
Succulents are popular house and garden plants because they are easy to cultivate and add beauty to your patio, gazebo, or living room. They are low maintenance and easy to propagate. If you need to repot them, you can use cactus soil since it is similar to succulent soil. Both types of soil drain well, have good aeration, and provide nutrients that make them ideal for succulents and cacti.
Image: istockphoto.com / Yasin Caglayan