Creating Well Draining Soil For Succulents

Last updated on July 5th, 2022 at 06:56 am

Having a well draining soil for your succulent container garden is important. If you’re an avid succulent grower, chances are you’ve had to deal with dead or dying plants in the past, usually because the soil didn’t drain well enough to support proper root growth.

You can avoid this issue by creating well draining soil for succulents, which promotes healthy roots and prevents root rot that can lead to the demise of your cherished little plants.

Soil drainage is the most important factor to consider when designing your succulent garden, because succulents prefer soil that doesn’t hold too much water. If you create well draining soil and keep it healthy, you’ll have trouble-free succulent gardens that are easier to maintain, requiring less time and money over the long term.

The easiest way to do this is by building raised beds that allow excess water to drain away from your plants rather than pooling around them and soaking their roots.

In order to ensure proper growth and health of succulents, you must have well draining soil, as succulents do not grow well in soggy soil or waterlogged conditions. So if you’re planning on growing succulents this year, follow these steps to create well draining soil for succulent gardens.

How to tell if the soil is well-drained

well draining soil

The most important aspect of soil drainage is how quickly water moves through it. Since plants use water in photosynthesis, a well draining soil allows them to grow healthy and strong. To test your soil’s drainage, dig a hole about 6 inches deep and fill it with water.

Wait about an hour and then check on it by digging into its depths with your finger or a stick. If you can see any water, it means that there are still pockets of saturated soil that won’t be able to support plant life. If you don’t see any water at all, your soil may be too dry for growing succulents. You want to find just enough moisture for plants but not so much that they can’t absorb nutrients from their surroundings.

Well drained soil meaning

The definition of a well draining soil is one that allows water to flow away from the plant’s roots so that there is minimal or no water retention. To create a well draining soil, first identify the type of soil in your garden. There are three types of soil: sand, clay, and loam.

A sandy soil drains very quickly, but does not retain much moisture; loamy soils have excellent drainage but can become too compacted for plants to grow; clay soils drain poorly and retain too much moisture for most plants.

Agave Americana (Century Plant)

Mixing different types of soil together can help to improve drainage, as long as you follow the guidelines:

  • Mix roughly equal parts of each type of soil together.
  • Add a small amount (roughly 1 inch) of compost or manure into each container before adding your new mix.

How to make succulent soil?

In order to prepare an appropriate growing medium for succulents, it’s important to know what kind of soil they prefer. Succulents generally prefer a well-drained, fast draining mixture with an open texture and good aeration.

Good examples include cactus/succulent potting mixes or compost combined with some coarse builder’s sand. Once you’ve identified your soil type, try mixing 2 parts garden soil with 1 part peat moss, and then add 2 cups of horticultural sand for every gallon of mixture. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that plants need adequate nutrients in their environment.

Water Movement In The Soils

well draining soil

Most people are aware that plants need water to survive. What they don’t know is why. Plants pull water from their roots, through their stems and leaves, into their cells. Water enters a plant’s roots by osmosis (water flows into a cell because there is more water outside of it than inside). From there, three methods can be used to get that water where it needs to go: xylem, phloem, and evaporation.

Xylem transports water up tree trunks and in stems; Phloem transports sugars made during photosynthesis; Evaporation takes place when water molecules move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. This last method is important for succulents since they store most of the moisture in their leaves, which require lots of sunlight for energy production.

To give you an idea of how much water evaporates off these plants, we calculated that a full-grown jade plant could lose about 4 quarts per day under the hot sun. These types of plants prefer dry soil, as well as bright light and ample airflow. If you want to grow them indoors, keep them on a tray with pebbles or gravel underneath so air circulates around their roots better.

Well draining​ soil for succulent plants

First and foremost, you must understand that succulents will only grow in areas with well draining soil. They do not need soil that is overly rich and they absolutely cannot tolerate soggy or wet soils. You must have a balanced pH in your garden, too, as succulents do not thrive in acidic or alkaline conditions. Potted plants can be planted directly into a flower bed for color if desired.

Portulaca grandiflora (Rose Moss Plant)

Succulents are also very versatile plants; most varieties are drought tolerant and some even require full sun exposure to thrive. If possible, use organic fertilizers on your succulents. This will help keep them healthy over time. Be sure to water regularly but do not overwater; overwatering can cause root rot which is fatal to these types of plants.

Consider using drip irrigation systems on any potted plant so as to avoid overwatering issues at all costs!

Components of well draining soil

well draining soil

Good drainage is important for succulents because they don’t tolerate wet feet. The best way to test your soil drainage is to plant something in it and see how quickly it dries out. If you can squeeze a handful of water out of your soil, you have good drainage.

What’s more, if your succulents are growing in sandy soils with lots of pumice or perlite (stone-like material), then you may have drainage issues on your hands! This is because these materials tend to absorb a lot of water.

In order to create well-drained soil for succulents, you need to add extra drainage by adding materials like coarse sand or gravel into your potting mix. This will ensure that excess moisture doesn’t build up around your plants’ roots and rot them from below.

How to prepare well draining soil for succulent

Having well draining soil is important for succulents and cacti because they are used to dry climates and need good drainage in order to avoid root rot. One way to create a mix of sandy soil and clay soil is by layering 50 percent sand, 40 percent clay, and 10 percent compost.

Another way is mixing equal parts coarse sand, pumice pebbles or lava rock, and potting soil. Whichever method you choose, make sure that your soil has good drainage so that it doesn’t become waterlogged. If you’re planting your succulents in pots with containers made from materials like plastic or terra cotta, then you should drill holes into them before adding your new plants.

This will allow excess water to drain out easily and prevent any damage from occurring as a result of overwatering.

Well draining soil for indoor plants

The majority of indoor plants thrive in well draining soil, and succulents are no exception. Like all other houseplants, succulents can survive on plain old potting soil (especially if it’s from your garden), but to keep them looking their best, opt for a specialized mix instead.

16 Best Drought Tolerant Succulents For Your Garden Or Home

This will ensure that you don’t overwater or underwater your plant. There are many commercially available options, like Pro-Mix HP which is specifically formulated for cactus and succulents.

Alternatively, create your own by combining equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss with some compost or worm castings. Keep in mind that these mixes drain quickly, so make sure not to add too much water at once! Also, be sure to water often enough so that your plant never dries out completely.

Well draining soil bunnings

The best soil for succulents is free-draining soil. When choosing soil for succulents, avoid very heavy clay or compacted soils as these may not have enough air in them to support your plants. We all know how important air is when it comes to growing healthy and strong plants.

The easiest way to improve drainage of your current soil is by adding lots of coarse organic matter such as pine bark, horticultural sand, or even crushed eggshells. This will help break up any compaction and allow better drainage.

If you are starting from scratch, choose a well-drained soil mix that includes some compost or other organic material. A good example would be one part each of loam (topsoil), peat moss, and perlite (or vermiculite). This will ensure your plant has plenty of air around its roots without being too dry which can lead to root rot.

How to create well-drained soil in clay

well draining soil

To help succulents flourish, it’s essential to create well-drained soil. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to achieve your goal. The first step is to remove as much of the clay as possible. You can do so by adding organic matter such as peat moss or compost and mixing it with sand or perlite until you have a mixture that is approximately 50 percent sand or perlite and 50 percent organic matter.

Then, add 2 inches of gravel on top of that mixture and water thoroughly. The next step is to add 3 inches of potting mix on top of that layer; water again thoroughly. Finally, plant your succulents! Be sure to water them regularly, especially during their growing season (usually spring through fall). If you follow these steps, your succulents will thrive in their new home.

How to improve soil drainage?

To grow succulents, you need well-draining soil. However, it’s not that easy to get natural soils to drain properly. To improve drainage in your garden beds, try adding a layer of gravel or sand on top of your existing soil. Another option is to lay down sheets of thick geotextile fabric (this will only work if you’re growing your succulents indoors).

Lepismium houlletianum (Snowdrop Cactus)

Still another option is to mix coarse sand or fine gravel into your existing potting mix. It might take some trial and error to find out what works best for your particular situation. It’s also worth noting that many people prefer to use cactus soil for their succulents; however, there are many different brands available and they can be expensive.

Is potting mix well draining soil?

Many potting mixes are designed to retain moisture, which is great for many plants, but not so great for succulents. That’s because succulents do best when they’re allowed to dry out between waterings. Try replacing your store-bought potting mix with a cactus mix that contains peat moss or pumice. This will improve drainage and help your succulents thrive.

What type of soil drains water the fastest?

Many people choose to grow succulents in cactus soil. In some cases, cactus soils are also well-draining. But what if you’re not using a cactus soil? And even if you are, it can’t hurt to use an additive that helps water drain faster from your potting soil.
The three options for creating well-draining soil for succulents are pebbles, perlite, and sand.

Each of these materials works by increasing drainage within your soil.


With your succulents planted in a well draining soil, you are able to maintain healthy plants with minimal effort. With proper care, you can ensure that your succulents look beautiful for years to come. Choosing to learn how to properly take care of them will pay off greatly in terms of end results. The hard part is behind you and now it’s just a matter of maintaining their beauty, so you can enjoy these plants for many years! Good luck!