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In a hurry?

I have been growing various types of succulents and cacti for 7 years now. Some of the varieties I have planted include Graptopetalum, golden barrel cactus, Echeveria, cholla (Cylindropuntia), and pincushion cactus among others.

Through my garden and research, I have learned how to choose the best soil for succulents and cactus whether they are the pre-mixed potting mixes or DIY soil mixtures. The best-prepacked mixes include the Miracle-Gro Cactus Potting Mix, Hoffman 10404 Succulent Soil Mix, etc.

If you would like to prepare your soil for your outdoor succulents, follow the procedure below. This applies to the DIY gardeners and those who already have such materials as garden soil, sand, gravel, compost, and perlite.

Top Picks – Best Soil for Succulents and Cactus

Best Overall – Miracle-Gro Cactus Potting Mix – Very good drainage and rich in various types of nutrients.

Best Value – Hoffman 10404 Succulent Soil Mix – Fairly good composition ideal for outdoor succulents

Best Budget – Fat Plants Succulent Soil – Rich soil and fairly priced and thus ideal for people on a budget.

Comparison Table for Various Types of Soils

  1. MiracleGro Cactus Potting Mix


After many years of growing outdoor succulents, this emerged as the ultimate best soil for these plants. This is due to the great and well thought of mixing composition that keeps the succulents well-nourished across the seasons.

Don’t be deceived by the term cactus in the name because this potting mix is not for cactus only but a variety of plants too including Whale’s tongue agave, aloe vera, Aeonium, Hen and chick succulent, and many others.

Miracle-Gro has an outstanding fast drainage formula which is enriched with what they call Miracle-Gro Plant Food (basic nutrients). The nutrients contained in the Miracle-Gro Cactus Potting Mix promote the proliferation of beautiful flowers in outdoor succulents.

This soil mix also contains natural forest products such as sand, sphagnum peat moss, and perlite which are used to enable good drainage while preventing soil compaction.

The natural products also represent the real outdoors making this best soil for outdoor succulents.

Composition of Miracle-Gro Cactus Potting Mix

  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Sand
  • Perlite
  • Miracle-Gro Plant Food (Nutrients)

Miracle-Gro is very confident in their product to the extent of giving a 6 months money-back guarantee in case one is not satisfied with the potting mix.  As you can guess, all the times I have used this soil, I have never asked for a refund.

Pros

  • Very good drainage for outdoor plants
  • Lots of nutrients for succulents
  • No soil compaction due to perlite

Cons

  • Only for potted succulents and not inground ones

2. Hoffman 10404 Succulent Soil Mix


This is another outstanding pre-prepared and packaged soil for outdoor succulents including cactus and others. This soil mix was found to do well for the majority of succulents including those obtained from the desert or jungle.

Hoffman 10404 has very good drainage that is ideal for the majority of succulents. However, if you are placing it in a pot that does not have drainage holes, it is advisable to add gravel at the bottom then place the soil mix on top. This does wonder for my succulents.

This soil is well formulated with various ingredients including Reed Sedge Peat (for added nutrients), peat moss (for preserving a bit of moisture), Canadian Sphagnum (for aeration), and perlite (for preventing soil compaction) among others. See all ingredients below.

Composition of Hoffman 10404 Organic Succulent Soil Mix

  • Peat Moss
  • Canadian Sphagnum
  • Perlite
  • Reed Sedge Peat
  • Limestone
  • Sand

This potting mix has a well-balanced soil pH which is also maintained for a longer time by the limestone contained in the soil. One does not need to mix this soil with any other ingredients.

Always remember that succulents do well in shallow planting. You just need to get the roots covered up to the stem level while leaving a layer of drainage in the soil.

The number of succulents you can grow in 4 quarts of this soil depends on the size of your pots or containers. Ensure you don’t use excess soil mix to cover beyond the roots.

Any remaining Hoffman soil mix should be stored properly in an airtight container or bag to prevent the growth of unwanted plants or animals.

If it’s your first time using the Hoffman potting mix, you are well sorted because it comes with a well-detailed user’s guide.

Pros

  • Good drainage
  • Suitable for outdoor succulents
  • No soil compaction issues
  • pH balanced soil
  • Comes with a user’s guide and ideal for beginners
  • Enough mulch for outdoors

Cons

  • Drains water a bit slower thus not ideal for regions with a higher than average precipitation

3. Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil


Fat Plants succulent soil is a special hand-mixed potting mix that is prepared by a highly reputable grower in San Diego, California who runs a succulent nursery. I found this soil to do very well for outdoor succulents due to its great composition.

Composition of Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil

  • Perlite
  • Worm castings
  • Volcanic pumice
  • Sand
  • Blood and bone meal

The above ingredients make the soil pretty easy to work with especially for outdoor pots.

Just like Fat Plant’s nursery, I have used this mixture to grow some of my outdoor succulents for years now. This soil has very good drainage.

The particles of Fat Plants soil are medium-sized and no powder or large chunks. This makes it ideal for the small roots of most outdoor succulents as well as air circulation.

It comes in various sizes from ½ gallon up to 8 gallons. The prices start around 10.98 dollars for the 0.5 gallons making it one of the most affordable soils. It is our budget pick.

The sellers are sweet enough to include a hand-written thank you note with every pack.

Pros

  • Moderate drainage ideal for dry weather
  • Medium-sized particles
  • Easy to work with
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Likely to retain some moisture in an area that rains regularly

#4 Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil


After years of working with succulents, this emerged as the 4th best soil for outdoor succulents.  It has fairly good drainage which ensures that roots don’t rot when one overwaters the succulents.

In addition to succulents and cacti, I found this soil to do very well for bonsai plants too. It is also ideal for succulents that like acidic conditions because it’s pH is 5.5. Actually, most succulents like acidic conditions between a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 with most doing well at a pH of 6. This soil is a high-quality gritty mix than home-prepared options. One is likely to underrate it from its simple packaging but it is a really great soil.

It has undergone a scientific prescreening and pre-washing and thus pathogen free. It is airy and ultralight.

Composition of Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil

  • Monto Clay
  • Bonsai Block
  • Pine Coir

Its average size of particles is ¼ inches for the pine bark, Bonsai block, and Monto clay. All these have a 33% ratio in the gritty mix which is a very good composition

You can use this soil for such succulents as Lithops, Echeveria, Aloe, Jade, Haworthia among others. Bonsai Jack Soil comes in various sizes from 2 quarts to 28 gallons.

Bonsai has very good support in case you need any help; they are a call away.

Pros

  • Good drainage
  • An ideal pH of 5.5
  • Top-quality gritty mix
  • Prevents root rot
  • No pathogens due to good treatment
  • Particles sized appropriately at ¼ inches
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Its cost is above average but worth it

#5 DIY Soil Mix for Succulents and Cactus


In case you are a DIY person like me, you can prepare your own soil for your succulents. This mainly applies for people who have the necessary materials. Apart from buying ready-made soils, sometimes I prepare my own potting mixes.

When preparing a potting mix for outdoor soil, the aim is to prepare soil that drains out quickly to prevent the roots from rotting.

Requirements

  1. Good quality garden soil (30%)
  2. Sand (River Sand or Pure Sand or construction sand) (30 %)
  3. Vermicompost or Cow dung Manure or Leaf Compost (10%)
  4. Neem Cake Powder (10%) – as an antifungal
  5. Perlite plus or minus charcoal or biochar (10%) – for storing nutrients, aeration, and antifungal
  6. Gravel/Pebbles/ Stones/Granite/Marble (10%)

Do not use cocopeat because it retains water leading to rot in some succulents.

Procedure for Preparing Soil for Outdoor Succulents

These are the materials and quantities you need to prepare soils for succulents. Some of the materials are premixed as per the quantities shown below. The other materials such as gravel are added separately in the pot.

  1. Garden Soil

You need some good quality garden soil. This can be obtained either at your backyard garden, compost pit or bought from the stores.

The soil should ideally be crumbly loamy. One can also amend the soil with compost for nutrients.

This component should make up about 30% of the potting mix. This means that if one wants to prepare 1 gallon of potting mix, you need about 4.8 cups of garden soil.

The soil should be placed in the mixing tray.

  1. Sand

This is the second component of an ideal soil especially for outdoor succulents in pots. This is because it promotes drainage in the soil to be prevent rotting.

Sand is good for drainage and also gives the potting mix a good structure. Do not use beach sand because it is saline. You need to use either River Sand or Pure Sand or Construction Sand.

Sand should make about 30% of the potting mix. Thus, for 1 gallon of potting mix, you need about 4.8 cups of sand. This should be placed next to the garden soil.

  1. Vermicompost or Manure or Leaf Compost

This is the 3rd ingredient for a potting mix for outdoor succulents. This is included in the mix to add the necessary nutrients in the mix.

Vermicompost is rich in such nutrients as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous which are required by most types of succulents for outdoors. This organic fertilizer also contains useful soil microbes such as mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria which are scientifically proven growth promoters and protectors.

You can either buy vermicompost online or prepare some in your home by following this detailed procedure.

Vermicompost should be about 10% of the soil. This means that for a gallon of soil use 1.6 cups of manure.

  1. Neem Cake Powder

Neem Cake is obtained from the Neem Tree. It is a great antifungal that acts on soil nematodes and harmless to humans.

Extracting neem cake powder is a complex process unless one is a professional and also has neem trees. The best option is to buy neem cake powder. This powder should make up 10% of the mixture thus use 1.6 cups in 1 gallon of the soil.

  1. Perlite

Perlite is usually added to the soil mixture for outdoor succulents to prevent the compaction of the soil after prolonged watering. This ensures aeration is maintained in the container holding the soil to prevent the rotting of the tiny roots.

Perlite absorbs water but does not shrink with time thus maintaining a good soil structure.

Perlite occurs naturally as a form of volcanic rock. When placed on a furnace at very high temperatures, it pops and expands to about 15 times its original volume.

This results in lightweight particles that contain microscopic spheres having a broken and porous surface that supports the growth of plants especially succulents. Due to this structure, perlite also improves aeration and drainage in potting mixes.

Perlite should make up about 10% of the potting mix, thus add 1.6 cups of perlite for 1 gallon of the potting mix.

If you are not a professional in perlite preparation, just purchase already prepared perlite in such stores as Amazon.

  1. Gravel/Pebbles/ Stones/Granite/Marble

This is mostly added for potted outdoor succulents. It is added at the bottom of the pot to promote drainage.

Gravel or stones are easy to collect in most backyards or construction sites. One should add about 10% of gravel in any potting mix. This means about 1.6 cups of gravel for 1-gallon pot.

  1. Cocopeat

Cocopeat is sometimes added in the soil mixture to maintain an ideal moisture content if the region is dry. This is an option.

Summary

It is evident that Miracle-Gro Cactus Potting Mix is the best ready-made soil for succulents and cactus. This is based on a teste and proven analysis. This is due to its great drainage, nutrients, slow compaction, and other factors. You can check or grab this great soil on Amazon and plant your succulents right away.

We have also gone through the step by step procedure of preparing potting soil mixes. That is basically how one can prepare the best soil for outdoor succulents. Now let’s go planting.