For every gardener who loves to have plants with low maintenance demands, succulent plants seem as if given from the Heaven. They need the bare minimum of care, and if you forget to water them, they won’t die easily, since it is one tough family of plants.
However, this doesn’t mean that I can do with my cacti whatever I want. Some precaution is always right, and this is also the case with the soil for such plants. Potting soils for succulent plants have to be chosen with care and knowledge, thus this article.
Which Factors Are The Most Important?
Concerning soil, these are the most critical factors which have to be considered when choosing. These are:
These are listed by the importance of each element, which means that if you find soil which fits your needs, without nutritive value, but amazing drainage, pick that one since you can add fertilizer on your own.
So, let’s get down to business and explain these factors more in depth, shall we?
In simple words, drainage represents the speed on which the soil “passes” the water down. Succulent plants are such that they don’t need a lot of water. A lot of cultivars will thrive on just a few drops of water. They originate from desert and arid areas after all.
In fact, often watering, or too much liquid can cause rot and eventually kill the plant. Therefore, manufacturer mixes ingredients such as peat moss which retains some of the moist and perlite to help break out the soil and improve drainage.
Therefore, if you want to make potting soil on your own, consider using perlite, tree bark which helps water to “pass” down to soil faster, and peat moss. Overusing of the latter had jeopardized ecosystems in Canada, and an excellent alternative for such is coconut coir.
Also, some gardeners suggest putting crushed pottery or stones at the bottom of the container, because this should improve the drainage. However, this method will only enhance erosion of the soil, so I’m not overly fond of it. In any case, it is far better to improve drainage of the soil, than to add stones or similar at the bottom of the container.
Second most important factor in choosing good potting soil is how well it “passes” the air down to roots. This element is essential because the root system needs oxygen, and because it will prevent the appearance of fungi and mold.
Garden soil is perhaps the first thing you think when this is mentioned, but the truth is that this is one of the worst growth mediums for succulent plants. It tends to get compact which reduces aeration.
To improve this, manufacturers add organic matter, such as ground tree bark, worn out manure or compost. Since its particles are large, it cannot settle as well, which results in fewer chances of the mold to develop.
For how long the soil can maintain its shape and level is perhaps not the most important factor, but still, it matters. It is like good Doctor Watson to Sherlock Holmes. Not always the central figure, but without it, the show would be pointless.
Anyhow, it is good to have top-notch quality soil, but what it matters when you will have to replace it after a few weeks. Therefore, besides improving aeration and water processing, tree bark is one of the most often used ingredients.
Also, the soil shouldn’t be too loose, since the plant will be unable to hold to it with its roots. Coarse sand is good for balancing this factor, but too much of it will make the soil unstable.
There are three possible scenarios in this case. Each is rather good for being used since you can adjust it without too much effort.
● Soils without any nutrients are acting great as a base for making a mix on your own. It is rather easy to apply fertilizers as needed later.
● Soils without nutrients, but with organic compounds are excellent if you wish to have a good quantity of nutrients since that organic matter will dissolve in time, thus providing the plant with valuable supplements.
● Soils with nutrients and added fertilizers are those which are ready for usage straight from the box. You should perhaps use one of the first two if you are an inexperienced gardener since too much fertilizer tends to burn the plant.
So, there it is. An article about potting soils for succulent plants is at your disposal, so feel free to follow the instructions. Of course, if you have questions, tips or tricks on how to improve such soil, feel free to use the comment section below.