image of mixed potting soil

How Do You Mix Potting Soil For Succulents? What About Other Plants?

Thanks to one of my viewers/subscribers “Yeats” on YouTube, where all my videos are hosted on Kim’s Gardens, I found a great question to answer here on the blog. (Of course, I will make a video too because that’s what I like to do!)

image of screenshot of question in YouTube comments

 Most of the time, I like to buy the premixed soil for Cacti and Succulents, such as Miracle-Gro Cacti and Succulent Soil. Even though I buy that soil, frequently I supplement the soil with more drainage-enhancing materials than it already has present.

As I had mentioned in the video where the subscriber asked his question, I like to use Poultry Grit or Chicken Grit. Here is an affiliate link to it if you haven’t seen it before. I find it hard to locate sometimes and you may have that trouble.

image of lady in striped shirt mixing potting soil

Succulents hold on to water in their big fleshy leaves or stems, so the amount of water added to their pots become very important to their health and survival. When adding water, the soil needs to hold the water for a short enough time that the roots quickly absorb enough for their needs, but then quickly drain away. Succulent roots do not want to sit in their pots with “wet feet.”

image of big fleshy leaves of succulent

Perlite is a soil additive that helps with drainage and can be added to your soil mix. If you are using a Cacti and Succulent Soil base, it will already have a good portion already in it, but may need additional to promote adequate drainage. Perlite looks like small bits of Styrofoam, but it really is volcanic glass heated up to 1600°F until it pops like popcorn!

What is Chicken Grit? How to Mix Potting Soil for Succulents - and Other Plants Too!

Vermiculite can be added to a soil mixture if you want to retain a little more moisture, such as a plant that tends to grow best in a little more moist potting mix.

See another post on the differences between Perlite and Vermiculite as soil additives.

How To Mix Potting Soil for Succulents

When I get ready to mix soil, I typically mix a container full and then keep it covered with a snap-on lid until I need it. I have some small containers that came from a bakery. These were originally used for frosting and keep a really nice tight seal. If you are interested, as at your local grocery store baking department and see if they have any discards to give you. Free works for me!

image of two plastic containers with lids

I label my soil mix containers for succulents or regular plants (at least for more of a moisture-loving plant.)  That way I can always grab the correct one when I am getting ready to plant up a new purchase.

image of detail of chicken grit

So here are the mixing techniques that I use for soil for planting my succulent houseplants. Using a basic potting soil mix like I just got the special deal on at Sam’s Club, I mix about one gallon of potting soil, add one quart of perlite or poultry grit or coarse sand.

Let me tell you about coarse sand. When you buy coarse sand, this will not be play sand for a kid’s sandbox since that is too fine. What you want to find is COARSE paver sand that will usually be found in the paving or brick department at Lowe’s or Home Depot. It will perhaps be labeled as paving base sand. It is still small grains of sand but coarse and sharp to interlock paving stone.

image of bag of chicken grit

Back to mixing potting soil: Add the perlite or poultry grit or coarse sand. Mix and match the quantities to make up a quart if you would like all of them. Or just use one of them if that is what you have available. Or experiment and label the plant as to which one you’ve added and see how it behaves in your environment.

image of bag of Horticultural charcoal

Lastly, add a cup or more of horticultural charcoal. This good for your plants in general since it absorbs extra water releasing it as needed, absorbs toxins from the soil, and most importantly, benefits healthy bacteria and fungi, perhaps helping to prevent root rot.

What Soil Mix for Other Non-Succulent Plants?

I would mix the same soil mix as this one above, just reduce the amount of the coarse sand and poultry grit by half. It is still important for other plants to have great drainage, but most other plants want to hold onto the moisture for a little longer than succulents do.  So feel free to just alter your “hard grit” a little. Or you may find that the non-succulent plants like the other soil mix just as well.  (Pssst > Especially if you find yourself watering just a smidge too much.)

image closeup of coarse paver base sand

Hopefully this has been helpful to you and I hope you will share and PIN. Pop over to watch my video and let me know where you agree and disagree. Let me know if you are having trouble finding any of the ingredients I mentioned, won’t you?


  1. Carol Blaser says:

    Great article; I don’t like the limited variety & supply of soils in my area and this is helpful so I know how to improve what I can’t buy.

    1. Thank you. It helps to be able to make up your own when supplies aren’t available.

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