Potting Soil Recipe for Cacti and Succulents
Perfect drainage makes this recipe succeed
Just as creating a healthy soil environment is crucial for your in-ground plants, providing a suitable growing medium for your container plants is a key factor to success. Most gardeners do fine with bagged container mixes available at the nursery, but these one-size-fits-all options might not be the best options, especially if you are growing plants, like cacti and succulents, with specific soil needs.
Making your own container soil might sound like a lot of unnecessary work, but it can improve your plants’ performance. And because these mixes have the optimal amount of nutrients and proper drainage, they reduce the amount of time you spend feeding and caring for your containers. And in the end, your container designs are only as good as the soil you fill your pots with. Insufficient soil, with too little drainage or too little nutrients will cause your plants to suffer and decline, never reaching their full potential. Ask any nursery owner what the key to raising gorgeous plants is and they will tell you it’s all about the quality of the soil.
The following recipe can be mixed in a wheelbarrow or garden cart and tweaked based on your needs or what is available to you. You can also save time and money by purchasing the items in bulk and making large batches to set aside for a later date or to share with your gardening friends.
5 parts perlite
4 parts bagged potting soil
1 part coarse sand
Pinch of rock dust
Top-dress the container soil with small river rock, gravel, aquarium stone, or a fine-grade roofing gravel to keep the crowns of the plants from rotting.
To increase acidity just slightly—something all succulents like—add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 5 gallons water when watering.
—Jeff Moore works at Solana Succulents in Solana Beach, California.