DIY Succulent Potting Soil

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DIY Succulent Potting Soil

I love succulents like jade plants and aloes; I write about them and share photos all the time. Lately, it seems like every time I post something about succulents, someone asks me what type of soil I use. Great question!

I don’t buy succulent potting soil, I make my own. It’s much cheaper than buying commercial succulent and cactus potting soil. Plus, I think the commercial succulent potting soil (at least the stuff I’ve purchased in the past) is light on sand, so it holds more water than I like. Making your own succulent potting soil is not only cheaper than buying the commercial stuff, it’s super easy.

DIY Succulent Potting Soil Ingredients

To make your own succulent potting soil, you only need three ingredients, and you can find them at any garden center or home improvement store:

  1. Potting soil or peat moss
  2. Sand
  3. Perlite
Ingredients For DIY Succulent Potting Soil

Ingredients For DIY Succulent Potting Soil

Potting Soil/Peat Moss

Any type of general potting soil will work as the base for making your own succulent soil. Use whatever you have on hand. The brand of potting soil I use varies depending what’s on sale at the time I need to buy potting soil. If peat moss is on sale, I’ll buy peat moss instead of potting soil. But for making your own succulent potting soil, make sure to use a light potting soil as your base. Don’t use heavy potting soils, and don’t use potting soil that contains vermiculite, or the kind that says it retains water longer than other potting soils. Succulents need fast draining soil, not soil that holds moisture.

Potting Soil Or Peat Moss

Potting Soil Or Peat Moss


The type of sand I buy is just the stuff they sell for use in a sandbox (I buy it at either Home Depot or Lowes). You could use any type of sand, but to ensure fast drainage of your succulent potting soil, I recommend buying a coarse sand rather than the really fine stuff. Just don’t use sand from the garden, the beach or a sandbox (you never know what nasties will be in that sand).

Sand Ingredient In DIY Succulent Potting Soil

Sand Ingredient In DIY Succulent Potting Soil


Perlite is a very lightweight soil amendment. It’s the white pieces that look like Styrofoam that you see in many commercial potting soils. It retains very little moisture and prevents soil compaction. In other words, it helps the soil drain faster which is exactly what we want for succulent potting soil. You can buy perlite at any garden center or home improvement store in the same section as you would find the potting soil.

Perlite Ingredient In DIY Succulent Potting Soil

Perlite Ingredient In DIY Succulent Potting Soil

DIY Succulent Potting Soil Recipe

The recipe I use for succulent potting soil is 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts sand and 1 part perlite. If I’m potting up a cactus, I use a little more sand and perlite in my succulent potting soil for extra drainage.

Combine Succulent Potting Soil Ingredients

Combine Succulent Potting Soil Ingredients

Making the succulent potting soil is easy. Simply dump all the ingredients into a bucket and stir until they are well mixed.

Mix Ingredients For Succulent Potting Soil

Mix Ingredients For Succulent Potting Soil

That’s it. Told you it was easy to make your own succulent potting soil. You could mix a bunch ahead of time and store it for later use, or just mix it as you need it. I like to mix up a big batch, and then I store it in a plastic bucket in the garage so I always have succulent potting soil on hand when I need it. Make sure to store your succulent potting soil in an air tight container. You don’t want pesky bugs getting in there.

Diy Succulent Potting Soil Ready To Use

Diy Succulent Potting Soil Ready To Use

This DIY succulent potting soil can also be used for propagating succulent cuttings. My succulents and cactus plants grow very well in my homemade succulent potting soil, and making my own saves me tons of money (I repot a lot of succulent and cactus plants).

Products I Use:


Click here to read more about the basics of how to care for a houseplant… Houseplant Care

Do you make any of your own potting soil mixes? Share your potting soil recipes in the comments section below.

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  1. says

    Very good advice. I just repotted a bunch of succulents this weekend and I just use a imprecise +/- 1/2 sand, 1/2 potting soil (with perlite). It's one of the reasons I love succulents, as long as the soil drains well, they'll be fine.

    • says

      Dear Amy. Good advice about the succulent potting soil. One tiny detail you never use the play sand that is meant for sand boxes.1. It has been sterilized.2.Too small particles. It will clump together. So the deal is use big grained sand. Bank sand we call it in Houston. For potting soil and garden soil also.I use to run a plant nursery. It is way cheaper to make your own.

  2. says

    Hello!! I read your post and it was very helpfull..I used to use vermiculite when i lived in Portugal (very dry weather) now I'm living in Ireland (very humid, wet) and I'm still using, for the first time i lost a succulent with root rotten..Now I know why. Thank you very much.!!
    I'd like to ask permission to make a post at my blog based in yours? but in Portuguese I'll give

    • says

      Hi Sheila,
      I'm glad you like the post. Thanks for asking permission to use my content. I think it would be great if you translated this into Portuguese. As long as you credit my site, link to my site, and make it clear that the content originated here, I'm fine with it. I would love it if you would come back here and share the link to your post too so I can see it and share it with

  3. says

    I should make my own too, maybe when we go to Lowe's again I will get all of the above. I guess you have to bring in your succulents for the winter? The only one I bring in is the aloe…and that just comes inside the storage room door…to be forgotten until about January. :-)

    • says

      Yah, they all come in for the winter. It's a huge task to wash them all and move them inside. Every fall I wonder why I keep doing it, but they do so much better outside. You're lucky! :-)


  4. Suze says

    You wash your succulents? How, is this something I should be doing? I”m getting ready to repot several that have been in same pots for several years and are not doing well now, they live on screened in porch in mostly sunny warm south central FL. Should I try to “wash” them?

    • says

      Yes, only the ones that spend the summer outside. I had a terrible aphid outbreak in my house one winter, so now I make sure to clean and debug all of my potted plants before bringing them back indoors for the winter. I haven’t had a major pest outbreak since (knock on wood). Here’s how I do it…
      Debugging and Cleaning Potted Plants
      You don’t need to wash them if you haven’t had any issues with bugs. Our winters are much, much longer than yours and houseplant pests are a major problem.

  5. Rebecca says

    I just bought some succulents and I’m curious about soil:
    I have some succulent/cactus mix soil from the store, which I guess has sand already mixed in. Would mixing this soil with some pebbles or gravel have the same effect as the perlite, since the goal is to prevent compacting?


    • says

      For sure you could do that. The only thing is that pebbles or gravel will add weight to the pot, where perlite will not. It depends on the size of your pot. It wouldn’t be a big deal for small pots, but if you have a large pot, it will get very heavy.

  6. Barbara Barrett says

    I live in New Mexico – I leave my succulents and cactus outdoors all year long. When we have very cold/freezing weather, (and we DO have sub-zero temps occasionally) I invert a plastic pot with holes drilled in the bottom, over my succulents at night and uncover them during the day. Has worked for several years, even through the weeks of sub-zero weather in 2011. Our biggest problem down here in winter is wind-chill.

  7. Deb Murray says

    I use a similar recipe that someone gave me:
    4 parts potting soil (I use cactus mix)
    1 part coarse gravel (think chicken grit or pea gravel)
    1/2 part perlite.

    Works great, drains fast.

  8. says

    I’m new to the succulent world. Always had a green thumb. But I thought I could just buy them, replant them in cute containers in potting soil. It worked for awhile. After about a month all of them started to either and the leaves started taking off. You really have to read and know how to care for them. Trying to save them all. I think they’ll be OK.

  9. Steve says

    I am definitely going to try your recipe for succulent soil. I have been using palm and cactus mix and not having good results with my semps. I always get confused when people say 1 part this and 2 parts that. Does one 1 part equal 1 scoop or handful? I really want to get this correct.
    Thank you,
    Steve H.

    • says

      You can use anything you want, as long as you use the same type of measure for each “part”. So, if you use a scoop measure for 1 part, then use the same scoop twice for 2 parts. Does that make sense? So, for example if you use a 1 cup measure, then this recipe would convert to 3 cups potting soil, 2 cups sand and 1 cup perlite. If you use a scoop, it would be 3 scoops potting soil, 2 scoops sand and 1 scoop perlite. A handful would be 3 handfuls potting soil, 2 handfuls sand and 1 handful perlite.

  10. Ranon says

    Are you sure it should be the kind used in sandboxes? I bought that and it seems really water-retaining. How long should it take for the surface of the soil to dry in this mixture?

    • says

      It should be porous sand, not the fine stuff. It shouldn’t take more than a week or so for the surface to start to dry out, depending on how saturated it was. If it’s holding too much water, then I would add more perlite or find a more porous sand. Also, don’t water the plant as often.

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