One of the most common questions we receive through social networks has to do with questions related to the substrate. This article is the second part of our series of posts in which we tell you everything you need to know about the substrate for succulents and cacti. Remember that we have previously talked about what characteristics it must meet and what variables you must take into account to guarantee an ideal substrate for your succulents.
In this chapter we share 7 homemade succulent soil recipes that you can make in your own home. Not only that, but we also explain what each component contributes and how you can vary each recipe to better suit you.
- 1 Advantages of Making Your Own Soil Mix for Succulents
- 2 7 Homemade Succulent Soil Recipes
- 3 3 Extra Tips for Making Succulent Soil Mix
Advantages of Making Your Own Soil Mix for Succulents
First of all, it is important to highlight 3 advantages of making your own homemade substrate.
Making your own substrate is cheaper!
As you already know, there are ready mixes of soil for succulents that you can buy in nurseries or plant stores, but they are usually more expensive than making your own mix. Also, these ready-made substrates are not available anywhere in the world and you may have to pick it up or have it shipped to your home, adding up to costs and making it even more expensive.
You can adapt the substrate to the needs of your succulents
When you make your own substrate, you control the ingredients and quantities, so you can guarantee that it meets everything your succulents need. In Succulent Alley we always recommend trying different mixes until you find the one that works best for you and for all your succulents.
Keep in mind that you can adapt the recipes that we teach you to better suit your needs.
You can make the amount of substrate you really need
One of the main disadvantages of buying substrate is that you have to buy it in the quantity that the bags are sold. Maybe you don't need that much.
The recipes are explained in “parts”. A part is a measure of volume. You can use whatever you want to measure your “parts”, the important thing is to use the same to measure each one. That is, you can choose a part to be a cup, or a jug, or a bucket, or a wheelbarrow. So if you decide, for example, that your “part” is one cup, two cups will be two parts, three cups will be three parts, and so on.
It all depends on how much substrate you want to make.
In addition, we would like you to take these two considerations into account before starting to explain the 7 homemade succulent soil recipes that you can make:
- When you use river sand, gravel or construction material, it is advisable to wash it before use because you never know what it has been in contact with.
- Component size matters. It is advisable to use coarse particles as they provide porosity to the mixture. Do not use sand or rocks that are very fine or almost powdered.
7 Homemade Succulent Soil Recipes
Here we show and explain 7 possible soil recipes for succulents that you can make in your own home.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #1
This recipe is actually three. It is the simplest substrate to make and consists of using the same amount of organic and inorganic material, that is, half and half. You have 3 different options:
The black peat, garden and all purpose soil, as organic components provide nutrients to our substrate. They are easy to get anywhere in the world and have a low cost.
The coarse sand, gravel and perlite provide drainage and aeration porosity. You will have to research in your area which of these is more affordable. Keep in mind, for example, that gravel and sand are heavy, while perlite is not. This, as we mentioned in the previous article, makes the pots have more or less weight and are easier or more difficult to transport.
Do not forget that perlite, being so light, should not be used for planting in outdoor soils because it can easily be blown away by the wind.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #2
Because perlite is so light, you may want to mix it with sand, gravel, or other material that provides good drainage and also adds weight to avoid watering it all over the top. The perlite is a volcanic material characterized by its excellent contribution to aeration and drainage. It absorbs moisture and then slowly releases it. Another option that you can apply in this recipe is to replace it with pumice stone.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #3
This recipe has a very high drainage and is low in nutrients. In this case, the pine bark provides that organic element to the mix, retains water and at the same time has air spaces that provide porosity and drainage. One of the advantages of using a soil mix like this is that the pine bark decomposes slowly, so your substrate will last you a long time.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #4
The peat and the substrate or soil are the organic components that provide nutrients to this recipe. The sand will then provide the necessary porosity, aeration and drainage for the substrate.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #5
The vermiculite is a mineral known for its high capacity to retain water and to provide aeration substrate. It retains moisture and then slowly releases it. We advise using this component on the substrate only if the climate you live in is very hot and you need to retain moisture for longer. Watch out! Keep in mind that vermiculite loses these qualities (porosity and aeration) over time when compacted.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #6
This recipe is a bit higher in nutrients because both the humus and the coconut coir are rich in nutrients. The coconut coir adds aeration and helps retain moisture a bit more. This recipe is useful if you have potted plants outdoors or in hot climates, so the substrate will be moist long enough for our succulent to absorb the water. The drainage, in this case, is provided by gravel or coarse sand. Finally, mixing coconut coir, which is very light, with gravel and sand, which are very heavy, balances the weight of the substrate. This way your substrate will not be too heavy nor too light.
Homemade Succulent Soil Recipe #7
When we use humus in substrate for succulents, we must take care that it is not in large quantity because, as we know, our succulents prefer a substrate low in nutrients. Therefore, in this recipe it is mixed with all purpose soil. The humus and soil as organic components represent half of the soil mix. The other half is made of inorganic components: pumice stone or perlite which, as we have said, is highly porous, provides aeration and is light. The coarse sand or gravel also help with porosity and drainage.
3 Extra Tips for Making Succulent Soil Mix
In addition to all the elements that we have talked about previously, you can also add another series of components to your homemade succulent soil (although in smaller quantities, they will have to be a quarter of a part or less):
- Crushed eggshells – Eggshells are a waste in most households. You can take advantage to include them in your soil mix and they will provide nutrients, especially calcium. Don't miss our article on how to make a homemade fertilizer or compost for succulents and cacti with eggshells.
- Diatomaceous earth – serves as an natural insecticide and pesticide. If you tend to have problems with ants, spiders or other insects, you may want to use it in your mix. You can get diatomaceous earth here.
- Charcoal – Charcoal normally used on the grill can also be used as part of your soil mix. It is a natural fungicide, that is, it serves to prevent and combat the appearance of fungi in your soil. It is important that the particles are small. You can use the small chips at the end of the charcoal bag or what's left after building a fire. You can get it here.
These are some ideas that you can apply to make your own homemade soil mix for succulents. As we said at the beginning, it is important that you try to adapt them to your needs or circumstances.
There is a very simple test to verify that your substrate is suitable for succulents. Want to know more? Read how to test and store soil for succulents.