Is Activated Charcoal Good for Succulents?

Is Activated Charcoal Good for Succulents

Yes, activated charcoal is great for succulents because it absorbs any excess moisture in the soil so that the plant is less likely to become overwatered or get root rot.

When the soil in a succulent pot is allowed to dry out between waterings and has good airflow, it is less likely to harbor diseases and pests and the plant will remain healthy.

Activated charcoal can also help remove foul smells, toxins, and certain chemicals from the succulent soil.

In this article, we will discuss the type of charcoal you can use on your succulents, how to use it properly, and why it is great to use on your plants. So, if you are thinking about using activated charcoal on your succulents and you wish to learn more, just keep reading.

Is activated charcoal the same as normal charcoal?

Charcoal is a carbon material produced when organic carbon resources, such as coconut shells or wood, are burned in low oxygen at a high temperature.

Normal charcoal, such as that commonly used for grilling, still contains plenty of chemicals that are not great for succulent soil. If you use normal charcoal for your succulents, these chemicals will accumulate and have a negative effect on the plant.

You can still use briquettes of grilling charcoal for your plants, but only as fertilizer and they will not be as effective as activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is normal charcoal that has been extremely burnt so that it becomes durable and porous. It has a higher absorbency rate than normal charcoal and can effectively bind to toxins and chemicals and eliminate them.

Is horticultural charcoal the same as activated charcoal?

Horticultural charcoal is also called inactive charcoal. It has many of the same properties as activated charcoal, but also a few differences.

Horticultural charcoal does not have air pockets quite as spongy as those in activated charcoal. Also, it does not absorb moisture, toxins or odors as well as activated charcoal.

Is activated charcoal good for succulents?

Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, provides plenty of benefits for succulents. 

Succulents are more prone than most plants to overwatering and root rot. The latter is a condition that develops when the plant is constantly overwatered and its roots are always standing in soggy soil. A plant’s roots need to dry out between waterings so that they can absorb oxygen from the air, and this is not possible when the soil around them is always wet.

In this case, the roots will drown and die, and the dead roots will be susceptible to opportunistic pathogens such as fungi and bacteria. These pathogens will accelerate the spread of the rot through the rest of the plant until the whole succulent succumbs to the rot.

To avoid this from happening, you can mix activated charcoal into your potting mix, because it helps with the water drainage as well as promotes the succulent’s growth.

Succulents that are grown indoors may suffer even more from overwatering and it could cause their leaves to turn yellow and fall off. They are easier to overwater than their outdoor counterparts because they get less light and heat, as well as much less air circulation, so the soil will not dry out as fast as it would outside.

Another factor that can lead to overwatering is a lack of drainage holes at the bottom of the succulent pot. The drainage holes are there to let excess water flow out in the event that you accidentally overwater your plant.

Activated charcoal can help in this situation because it reduces the soil’s moisture retention by absorbing the moisture itself, leaving the plant to grow in well-draining, aerated soil.

What are some other benefits of activated charcoal?

Succulent soil mixes usually contain nickel, copper, iron and cobalt. These minerals can make the soil unbalanced and negatively affect the growth of your plant. Luckily, activated charcoal can absorb all of these minerals. 

Activated charcoal also improves root growth in succulents so that nutrient uptake is more efficient.

It also prevents foul smells from emanating from your plants. Potting soil contains plenty of organic substances that produce a foul odor as they decay, and using activated charcoal is very effective at eliminating these odors.

Activated charcoal can even prevent fungal infections from breaking out on your succulent, as well as prevent pests from attacking.

Fungi, pests, and insects are attracted to the moisture in overwatered succulents, so when you apply activated charcoal the moisture is removed and you will therefore deter pests and diseases.

How much-activated charcoal should be added to a succulent’s soil?

Be careful how you use activated charcoal in your succulent soil. If the climate and weather is drier and hotter, 10 percent activated charcoal to 90 percent succulent soil should be fine.

If you live in a place that is more humid and cold most of the time, you can increase the activated charcoal to around 40 percent.

Basically, when the moisture in the succulent environment is increased, the soil is going to need more absorption.

Generally, a great mix for a succulent would be one part activated charcoal to nine parts succulent soil mix that also contains pebbles, pumice and coarse sand.


Yes, activated charcoal is good for succulents because it can help keep the soil in the plants’ pots dry. Succulents thrive when their roots are allowed to dry out between waterings.

Activated charcoal also lessens the likelihood of fungal growth and pests, while improving the aeration in the soil.

It can also absorb toxins and chemicals from the soil that can negatively affect the growth of your plants.

There are countless benefits to the use of activated charcoal in your succulent soil, but in particular, if you constantly worry about the possibility of too much moisture in the soil, then definitely give activated charcoal a try.

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