Need help with Succulent Soil

0nametaken0May 12, 2013

Hey guys, new to succulents and wanted to buy some soil.

Now Ive searched the forum and gone through some lengthy posts, its confusing. Turns out succulent mix at the stores suck. So I guess I will have to make my own.

I just need the simplest product detail/name that I can go to HD, Lowes or a hardware store and buy this stuff. If its cheaper on ebay or amazon, please let me know too.

atm Im thinking to buy normal potting soil and perlite. I see pumice is sold widely on ebay, would that be a cheaper replacement? Ill also try to get fine gravel. So mixture would be 50-40-10 respectively. Is this a good idea?

Thanks for the help.

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Succulent soil is a very... difficult subject. just posting this here you will probably get 15 different answers. just go with what you feel is the best. heres what i do :
At home depot there is this large red and white stripped bag of soil that goes by the company name Kellogg. i get that and throw in a bunch of perlite. maybe 50-75% depending on if the succulent is more prone to root rot. if you have a feed and seed store somewhere around you, you can go there and ask for some chicken grit. little quarter inch pieces of rock that are excellent for drainage. usually comes in a large bag for maybe 10$ i just throw some of that in until i feel comfortable. it also makes an excellent top cover. my soil mix generally has no set ratios of anything, i got goes with what makes me comfortable with the particular succulent being planted.
pumice is always nice to have, as well as turface, but i dont have easy access to those materials so generally i dont use them. but the few succulents that i have that do have a mix with pumice and turface do look especially happy.

This post was edited by Microthrix on Sun, May 12, 13 at 18:06

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 5:57PM
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hmm, ok Im thinking of my original plan then. Ill get potting soil, perlite and pebbles/gravel. For potting soil though, what ingredients should I look for? What ingredients should I avoid? Because this succulent mix I got is bad, Im very disappointed. Its all hard when its dry and forms clumps.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:00PM
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rosemariero(Z9 SW SUNDiegoCA)

Peat is one of the ingredients you want to avoid, but you may not be able to-I'm not sure if many mixes use it. It's supposed to hold moisture, (I would guess plants going from being mass-produced to the stores-waiting for someone to buy-would need it) ~but once it goes bone dry, it gets very hard & difficult to re-wet (at least, that's been my experience). If you can find pumice, or dry stall (pumice type stuff) or even aquarium rocks (but it's expensive if you needs lots), that would be good to mix in. Soil mixes with humus/organic stuff that would be great for regular houseplants is not necessarily good for sux.

Also avoid sand. Seems like a natural...makes you think of the desert, right? But once wet, it doesn't drain easily.

I'm NOT an expert on this, so I'm going to shut my trap now. It's different for everyone, depending on your growing conditions, your watering habits, types of plants you keep, etc.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Well I see pumice is sold readily on ebay, maybe you can tell me if its priced good? Maybe I can replace perlite with pumice.

Ill be planting all my succulents into a 13" x 24" x 4" pot/planter.

I saw a big bag of gravel, each about an 1" in size, but I think they are too large. Also, gravel is very hard to find, besides the overpriced aquatic gravel. I know the $$$ I spent buying nutrient retaining substrate for my planted aquarium. Safe-T-Sorb is used alot in aquariums as it retains fertilizers. I was thinking maybe buy a bag of that and mix it in, since its light gravel. But then its similar to peat that it retains moisture. sigh, its not easy.

It sucks because in the end, the substrate will cost more than all my succulents.

EDIT: I see 2 gallons of pumice is $18. Is that good? I feel silly buying something that looks like gravel at the side of your local river.

Also thanks for the response guys. Any form of response is good, Im learning and trying to put everything together.

This post was edited by NameTaken on Mon, May 13, 13 at 20:33

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 8:28PM
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rosemariero6(z10 /ss24 So. Calif.)

Jumping in here-just came across this 2009 post about pumice/dry stall/turface -info you might find useful (a bit to read-all info may not be current-but may find some gems).

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread on pumice etcetera

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:06PM
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The Fresh Prince of Bel Dirt was asking about this recently.

Here is a link that might be useful: I Want to Soil Myself

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:57PM
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Thanks. But why are we interested in water retaining things? Isnt it suppose to be that soils get dry quick after watering? If so then I would prefer to buy Safe-T-Sorb as I actually know where I can find it and for a good price.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 7:21PM
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bump, I will purchasing tomorrow, just want a few more opinions.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:54PM
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Just an idea - I recently got about 50lb of aquarium gravel for free - someone was giving it away on freecycle (they were redoing their aquarium).

I usually buy chicken grit at farm supply store, it costs me $18 (CAD) for 50lb bag.


This post was edited by rina_ on Thu, May 16, 13 at 23:50

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 11:45PM
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I get more confused the more I read. I read very gritty is good, no organic material, no fine material. But then most mixes I see then have some sort of fine or organic material.

Okay, so we can search for pumice or other gritty stuff... what should we use for the other stuff?

Second question, why not use pure Turface?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 12:09AM
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You can mix Miracle Grow or other potting soil with small wood chips and perlite. I do this and my succulents drain quickly and grow very well. The wood chips and perlite keep the soil open and free draining. Just make sure your containers have drainage holes.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 12:57AM
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Long time no see Jane I've Dayumm near forgot how to spell Mircle Glow myself thanks for the reminder.
If I understand you correctly you said succulents can tolerate an amended MG soil

From anyone this is a safe bet to state but tolerating a soil and growing well in a soil are very different things.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:11AM
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Some water retention is important because fine roots will die if totally dry. This is where turface works well, it is simultaneously porous and water retentive.

Home Depot and Lowe's will occasionally sell lava rock at the right size (small pebble size in the 1/4" range) for adding to a soil mix. It is found in the BBQ section along with mesquite and charcoal. If you find it, stock up. I wonder if it can be special ordered? Hmmm....The rock is a dark gray almost black but is lightweight, does not retain water, and can be used the same as traditional pumice.

I personally like perlite and it is easy to find. For large pots it helps keep the weight down.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 8:00AM
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Hey guys, love US. On the road I found a nice flower shop. Bought huge bag of pea gravel, red lava rock and a beautiful sempervivum for a total of 14.98. I need half of each to fill by big succulent container. Now I just need to find a good potting soil. He name recommendations? Also I'm happy people r discussing here, I'm leaving for mexico tomorrow for a week so on my nexus. When I get back I'll post pics, very excited about vacation and my new to besuccukent soil.

The lava rock is in to 3 in in size. I was thinking to hammer it in half in pieces. Don't want to make dust either. I'm so happy I have the hardest to find stuff. Also, who spends so much in soils for their plant? We must be hardcore.

I really want to buy sago palm and yucca.something that's hardy to Toronto, Ontario zone.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 2:47PM
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