Gritty soil mix is simple to make with only a few ingredients, and works great for plants that like to stay dry. In this post, I’ll tell you all about what it is and the benefits. Then I’ll give you my recipe, and show you exactly how to make your own, step by step.
If you’re the type of person who tends to overwater plants, then switching to gritty soil will be a game changer for you!
With this super fast draining mix, you could water your plants every day without overdoing it.
Since it flows right through with minimal moisture retention, the roots will never be saturated, or stay wet for extended periods of time like they do in regular potting soil.
In this guide, I will tell you more about what it is, and give you all of the advantages. Then I’ll show you step by step how to easily make your own gritty soil mix with only a few simple ingredients.
What Is Gritty Mix Potting Soil?
Gritty mix is a soilless potting medium that is designed to drain very quickly. It’s made up of mostly non-organic materials, and ideal for plants that naturally thrive in arid climates, like succulents and cacti.
Benefits Of Gritty Soil Mix
The biggest benefit of a gritty soil mix is that it’s impossible to drown your plants, which is perfect for people who have a problem with overwatering.
But there are other great advantages too. It’s composition is similar to the ground in desert climates, where it doesn’t rain very often. So you can give it a really good, deep soaking, and then it dries out fast, just like in nature.
Since it’s made mostly of non-organic materials, it doesn’t break down quickly, or become compacted like regular potting soil can. So there’s no need to replace it, and you can reuse it over and over again.
It also allows for plenty of airflow between the particles, so the roots will never be smothered by compaction, or stay wet for too long.
Gritty Potting Mix Ingredients
If they are smaller than that, the dust and fine particles will retain too much moisture, and can also end up blocking the drainage holes.
When they’re bigger, it can drain too quickly, or cause large air pockets around the roots, preventing them from absorbing any moisture.
Below I will discuss each ingredient in detail, and give you some substitutes in case you can’t find them where you live.
Turface is a type of clay that looks like tiny bits of terracotta. It has good drainage, but also helps hold moisture a bit longer. So your gritty potting mix will drain fast, but won’t become bone dry right away, which is exactly what we want.
If you can’t find turface where you live, the best alternative is calcined clay. You could also try experimenting with pumice or perlite instead, but full disclosure, I have not personally tried those in this recipe.
Granite doesn’t hold moisture at all, and will allow the water to pass right over it. This keeps it from pooling, and helps the gritty soil mixture dry faster.
You could substitue chicken (poultry) grit, since that is commonly made out of granite. However, keep in mind that you will likely have to sift it yourself to get the right size.
Pine Bark also helps to retain moisture, but not as long as other similar substrates. Though it is an organic material, it takes a very long time to break down, so it won’t become compacted.
You could use fir or orchid bark instead, but the chunks in many of these products are much larger than the 1/8 – 1/4″ inch size we need here.
Gritty Mix Soil Recipe
- Measuring container
- Trowel or shovel
- Bucket or table top try (or another container for mixing)
- Dust mask
- Sifting screens (only if your ingredients aren’t pre-sifted)
How To Make Gritty Soil
Before getting started, make sure to wear a dust mask, especially if you’re going to be sifting the ingredients yourself. It’s not good to breath in those tiny particles.
Also note that the products I recommend and have linked to in the supplies list above are pre-sifted to the 1/8″ to 1/4″ size. So if you buy those or something similar, then you can skip step 1.
Step 1 (optional): Sift the particles – If your materials are not pre-sifted, then you need to do this first. Use your sifting screens to filter out anything smaller than 1/8″. Then do again using a larger screen to get rid of the pieces bigger than 1/4″.
Don’t worry, you can save the smaller and larger pieces for other potting soil recipes, so they won’t go to waste.
You can use anything you want for this. For example, a one cup measure, a bowl, scoop, or bucket… it doesn’t matter. Just use the same thing for all three ingredients so you have equal parts of each.
Step 3: Mix it all together – Now all you need to do is stir everything together using your trowel or shovel. I like to do this in my table-top potting tray, but you could use a bucket or wheelbarrow instead, if that’s what you prefer.
Whatever you use, make sure all of the ingredients are mixed together really well so they are distributed evenly throughout the mix.
Related Post: How To Make Your Own Cactus Soil Mix (With Recipe!)
Step 4: Use it right away – There’s no need to wait, you can use your gritty mix right away. One thing to keep in mind is that, since it is so porous, it won’t compact around the roots like regular potting soil does.
So your plant may be a bit wobbly, and small ones may need a little extra support until the roots become established, which is totally normal.
Though making your own is really easy, if you don’t want to bother with it, you can buy it all premixed and ready to go here.
Storing The Leftovers
Storing it is also a good option if you want to make a big batch so you always have some on hand when you need it. Just make sure to use a sealed container so your gritty soil doesn’t become contaminated while in storage.
In this section, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about gritty soil. If you can’t find your answer here, ask in the comments below.
How do you use gritty mix?
You can use gritty mix for any type of plant that needs good drainage, like succulents and cacti, for example. You could also use it as a decorative soil cover on any type of plant.
What is gritty mix made of?
Gritty mix is made of porous ingredients that allow the water to run through, and does not retain moisture very long. Examples include turface, granite, grit, pumice, and pine bark.
How often do you water gritty mix?
How often you water gritty mix depends on your habits and preference. Since it drains very quickly and doesn’t hold onto moisture for long, you’ll need to water more often than you’re used to.
As long as it’s made correctly, you could water gritty mix potting soil every day without worrying about overdoing it. But if you find that it dries out too quickly for your liking, then I recommend trying my succulent soil recipe instead.
Gritty mix is easy to make, and you only need a few ingredients. This recipe is perfect for plants that like to stay dry. Simply follow the steps above, and you’ll be all set. Or you could customize my recipe to suit your needs, and the needs of your plants.
More About Garden Soils
- How To Choose The Best Jade Plant Soil
- No Dig Gardening 101: How To Start A No Till Garden
- How To Choose The Best Money Tree Soil
Share your favorite recipe or your tips for making gritty soil in the comments section below.