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I’ve finally developed the ideal succulent potting mix after years of experimenting. The best soil for succulents is this one, and it’s also quite simple to create. I’ll provide my recipe and step-by-step instructions for making your own succulent soil in this post.
I make my own succulent soil rather than buying it. Purchasing a commercial succulent potting mix would be significantly more expensive.
Additionally, I believe that commercial succulent soil mixes (at least the ones I’ve bought in the past) are low on sand and contain more water than I prefer.
Does topsoil work well with succulents?
These are some very fundamental DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to caring for succulents to ensure their happiness.
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In your succulent pots, AVOID using moss. Although it is attractive, it retains moisture and fosters fungi and germs. Additionally, stay away from non-porous rocks like glass marbles, pea gravel, river rocks, fish rocks, sand, etc. As long as the soil has enough air to breathe, you can put a few rocks here and there as ornamentation.
USE TOP DRESSINGS THAT ALSO SERVE AS DRAINS. Shale, Turface, and pumice are my top choices. The Supplies page is a list of my shopping sources.
DO NOT utilize containers without drainage holes unless you only intend to use them for a short period of time. This applies to terrariums, jars, bowls, and mugs. And no, you cannot use them if you first fill them with soil and then place pebbles on the bottom. This fosters the growth of the bacteria that causes rot.
If there isn’t a hole in the bottom, drill it. If the container is non-porous or glazed, you should make enough holes with a ceramic or glass bit to allow the soil to dry out fast. Use a piece of screen, burlap, garlic net, or anything else that will keep the dirt in yet enable it to completely drain for larger holes.
If your succulents aren’t used to full sun, DON’T expose them to it. Most people prefer part-sun over bright indirect sun. A succulent can be burned and killed when moved from partial to full sun.
Give your succulents as much light as they can handle, but do it gradually. Put your plant in a spot that receives a little more sun than it usually does, then move it over the course of a week or more to a brighter spot. Shelves, gardens, and windows facing north will all receive less light than those facing west. South receives a wonderful combination of east and west sun, while east-facing receives morning sun.
DON’T base the frequency of your irrigation on a schedule, but rather on how dry the soil surrounding the roots is. You could wish to repot in a different container with better draining soil if the soil doesn’t dry out within a week.
DON’T rule out using a smaller, more quickly drying pot. The best clay is unglazed and has drainage holes. Improve your soil by adding more drainage components than organic ones.
DO NOT use pre-bagged potting soil with additional fertilizer as it frequently lacks the proper nutritional balance for succulents and contains an excessive amount of organic material that causes the soil to dry out too rapidly.
DON’T use anything but ordinary topsoil and a ton of drainage materials. Brown organic dirt should be present in the same quantity or less than the other ingredients. On the Care Guide page is my formula for soil.
DON’T assume the soil your plant was grown in is the best soil for that kind of succulent. Before bringing any plants home, make sure to check them for fungus and pests. Avoid purchasing plants that were housed with ill or infected plants, as well as those that have been treated with neonicotinoids or other insecticides that are harmful to the environment.
DO check the plants you’ve picked and the surrounding plants for insects and fungus before taking them inside. If necessary, and especially if the soil was moist when you acquired it, repot your succulents in good soil. Take care not to expose them to more sun than they are used to. Start with some light exposure and progressively increase it over the course of a week or longer.
Additionally, Mountain Crest Gardens offers stunning, healthy succulents that may be delivered right to your door swiftly.
Succulents can be planted directly into the ground.
Succulents can be planted in pots, the ground, or a combination of the two if you want them to flourish outside. Make careful to provide your succulents six to eight inches of soil designed for succulents when planting them in the ground.
This will give the roots enough of room to spread out and grow without being constrained by dampness. Make holes for the succulents after spreading the soil, then plant them there and cover the holes with earth.
The succulents should then be lightly watered to help them stay in place. If you want your succulents to stretch out and become larger, keep in mind that they will expand; therefore, avoid planting them too closely together. Direct-planted succulents and succulents in bowls or pots work well together to create levels and offer another element to your garden.
Your outdoor oasis is waiting for you now that you understand how to plant a succulent! Succulents are not only easy to plant, but also easy to maintain, whether you want to grow a single succulent or a rich garden. If you’re interested in finding out more, look at our comprehensive guide on caring for succulents!
Which type of soil is ideal for succulents?
Succulent soil is the basis for a plant’s ability to thrive, whether you are planting succulents outside or indoors. Larger soil particles are necessary for succulents to have a well-draining soil that allows water to enter quickly and drain away from the roots without compacting the soil. Use a soil test kit to verify the ideal soil for succulents and adjust the soil to a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5 before planting.
- Succulents prefer well-draining soil and have short root systems.
- The ideal soil is one that is nutrient-rich, loose, and rocky.
- Use a potting mix designed specifically for succulents and cacti when planting in containers, and place the plant in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.
- Succulent plants could die off if their soil is too alkaline.
- Add soil amendments to the existing soil to make it more suitable for succulents’ needs.
How To Grow Succulents | Succulent Plant Care Info
Sempervivum, Jovibaraba, and Sedum are winter-hardy plants that can grow in zones 3–9.
The majority of succulent species require from half a day to a full day of direct sunlight. It is advised to find some afternoon shade in particularly hot places. Succulents planted in excessive shadow will extend outward in search of more sunlight. Enough sunlight will help succulents grow into gorgeous, vibrant plants.
Plants should be gently removed from their containers and planted, making that the soil level is maintained at the same depth as it was in the container.
Keep in mind that most of our plants came straight from the cold frames where they were shielded from the harsh sun and drying winds. For the first week, give your plants and garden décor some shade and cover to gradually adapt them. Every few days, extend the length of the day by a few hours. This will make it possible for a smooth transition.
A layer of pebbles or pea gravel sprinkled on the soil surrounding the plant will be beneficial to your succulents. Additionally, it is highly ornamental.
Succulents require soil with good drainage. Make sure the place has good drainage and is not in a low region that would remain wet before planting in the garden. You can buy cactus soil for container gardening or add sand, gravel, or volcanic rock to your potting soil for enhanced drainage. You should have a drainage hole in the container you are using for planting, or you can fill the bottom of the container with crushed rock before adding the planting medium. Spreading gravel or tiny pebbles on top of the ground can add a lot of style.
After planting, water the area thoroughly and wait a short while before watering again. Wet feet bother succulents, who don’t like them. Water whatever you do thoroughly. They will require less water once they are established.
Succulents generally require relatively little fertilizer. During the growing season, they only require monthly watering and a balanced fertilizer.
Each type of sedum blooms at a different period and in a variety of pink, red, and yellow hues.
After the second or third year, Sempervivums will flower. From the middle of the main rosette, which has a cluster of flowers, a flower stalk will emerge. Sempervivum blooms are open, starry, and typically pink. They are carried above the plant on a stem with several blossoms. Fortunately, there are always chicks born earlier from the base that grow in a ring around the mother plant to continue for subsequent years. The monocarpic crown that generates the flower head dies off after flowering. Twist the stalk off gently once the blossom fades, then plant a chick where it was.
Typically, established succulents in the garden do not require winter protection. Snow frequently provides protection for chilly locations. Balsam boughs can be used as a light winter mulch in cold climates without snow cover, but this is typically not necessary.
When your plants are delivered, gently open the package as soon as possible. Once you have unpacked your things, water your plants properly and let them drain well because we ship plants on the dry side. Early-spring shipping succulents could have some dry edges and a lackluster appearance. This is typical, and their color will deepen when exposed to sunlight. Sempervivums change color with the seasons, and each variety has a certain time of year when it is at its most vibrant.
Succulents can be used in countless planting scenarios. The most interesting containers and troughs are those with a variety of colors, textures, and behaviors. Succulents make lovely plants for rock gardens. There is always color since there are so many different bloom times.
Do succulents require rocks on their tops?
Have you ever wondered why there is a layer of beautiful pebbles on top of so many succulent arrangements? Have you ever overheard someone discussing top dressing for succulents and wondered what it was or what it was used for? Pebbles are used as a layer for succulents for more reasons than just aesthetics. Learn more about top dressing and the benefits of using it on your succulents by reading on.
What Is Top Dressing?
In agriculture and gardening, top dressing is utilized. A top dressing is typically a thin, even layer of rich soil, compost, manure, or worm castings that is added to a garden bed, lawn, or field soon before planting. After that, it is tilled into the ground so that the seeds or plants can grow there. After the plants are set up, a top dressing for succulents is a uniform coating of inorganic material, such as pebbles, gravel, crushed rock, or broken seashells, that is spread over the top of the soil. The top dressing of a succulent is applied and kept in place, completely covering the soil to a depth of about a third of an inch. For plants growing in the ground or in containers, this offers a number of advantages.
Benefits of Top Dressing for Succulents
Succulents can benefit from inorganic top dressing in numerous ways:
- Succulent top dressing aids in soil temperature regulation, protecting the roots from extreme temperature swings.
- Light colored gravel or pebbles reflect heat, which is good in warmer climes, while dark colors absorb heat more readily, warming the soil and encouraging root growth.
- Pebbles reduce the powerful force of water from rain or irrigation, which stops soil erosion. This prevents soil from dripping onto your plants’ leaves.
- An inorganic top dressing that is at least 1/3 inch thick inhibits insects from laying their eggs in the moist organic soil. This is the most effective approach to get rid of bothersome gnats in your house.
- Weed barriers are created by top treatments.
- To prevent plastic pots and containers from blowing away, it gives them weight.
- Before newly planted succulents fully root into the surrounding soil matrix, top dressing can assist keep them upright.
And let’s face it, uncovered earth looks less appealing than a coating of ornamental stones. I suggest putting top dressing in my advice on how to cultivate succulents because of all these benefits.
Top Dressing for Succulents
Succulent top dressings are available in a variety of hues, textures, and sizes. We typically think of ornamental pebbles, but there are other materials you can use, including sand, gravel, crushed granite, glass, fire glass, seashells, crushed coral, small stones, and pieces of semi-precious stones like amethyst, tiger eye, and quartz.
Consider your top dressing choices carefully. Make sure the sand is clean or rinsed before using it. Your plants will suffer because of the high salt content of beach sand. And ensure that the “You utilize colorfast colorful rocks that are not just powder-coated. Some landscape rocks offered for sale in home improvement stores have a color coating that peels off, coloring the plants and creating a mess. Use any designated as “Despite the fact that you can also find excellent items in aquarium stores or even fire glass for decorative fire features, top dressing. For inspiration, browse the selection of delicious top dressings in my Amazon store. Use of either is secure for succulent plants.
Succulent top dressings and pebbles come in a wide range of hues, from muted earth tones to neon-bright hues of green, blue, yellow succulent, and purple that are rarely seen in nature. What should you use then? The solution that appeals to you the most is the best one. Seriously. Who is to say that you’ll appreciate my taste if I show you and explain the factors I take into account while selecting the best dressings? I want a natural appearance that highlights the plant and harmonizes the hues and textures of the succulent and its container. But if you prefer the aesthetic of silvery-green succulents paired with pink DayGlo pebbles, rock on!
Choosing Top Dressing for Succulents
I compare succulent top dressing to jewels for clothing. It shouldn’t overpower the aesthetic or offer unnecessary intrigue. Debra Lee Baldwin may have said it best. She compares the mat for a painting to ornamental pebbles for succulent plants. The container serves as the frame, the top dressing as the mat, and the succulents as the artwork in her opinion.
To demonstrate the difference, I photographed an Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg in a ceramic succulent pot with three different top dressings. I chose black sand with a hint of glitter because the pot has a shiny, black rim. The lower portion of the pot is a shiny tan tint. I decided on caramel-colored sand and tan pebbles with a matte texture. Isn’t the distinction each creates amazing? Consider the Echeveria PVN with a top dressing that is plum-toned.
Always keep the effect you hope to achieve in mind when you choose your top dressing. Your choice of pebbles, sand, and rocks may differ from if you want to showcase the plant if the pot is particularly cool and you want to draw attention to it.
A Matter of Scale
Almost always, when people refer to top dressing for succulents, they are referring to pea gravel or decorative pebbles that are around 1/51/4 inch in size. That is the size of the tan stones I used, which are displayed with the Echeveria PVN in the middle of the trio above. But you have to admit, I find the sand to be very attractive. Although it is more challenging to reuse than pebbles for different plants, I think it looks fantastic for a single planting.
Although most people wouldn’t think to wear something this bulky, doesn’t it look magnificent? Susan Aach produced this ceramic pot by hand. She combined a Ferocactus with it and added a top dressing with a thick, rough texture to really tie the two together. I like how it looks.
Another coupling of a Susan Aach pot with a sizable top dressing is seen here. Together, they perfectly accentuate this stunning, variegated Echeveria Compton Carousel. When matching her pots, plants, and top dressings, she really displays her artistic eye. She strikes a balance between the pots’ and the plants’ aesthetic appeal to create a real synergy. Visit Susan Aach’s website to learn more about her handcrafted ceramics and look at my encounter with her. Susan, thank you for allowing us to use your lovely photos!
Are There Problems Using Top Dressing for Succulents?
If you’ve never added stones for succulents to your pots, you can have the following inquiries:
Does the soil retain moisture because of the pebbles? Regular readers are aware that choosing a fast-draining succulent soil is crucial to the wellbeing of your plants. This cannot be negotiated. How about including the pebbles now? It is true that top dressings for succulents stop the soil from evaporating and losing moisture to the air. However, you want the water to get beyond the plant’s roots and through the soil, where it can be absorbed. The value of the to dressing and a good soil more than makes up for the small quantity of evaporation wasted.
Does the top dressing restrict the soil’s and the roots’ ability to breathe? For a succulent plant to survive, its roots require oxygen. The roots may acquire oxygen thanks to tiny air pockets in the arid soil. Even a top layer of sand, pebbles, or gravel allows air to enter the soil and nourish the roots of plants. Insufficient drainage causes too much water to permeate the soil, removing air spaces and “flood the plant. Top dressing does not impede your plant’s ability to get enough oxygen.
If you can’t touch the earth, how can you tell when your succulent plants need watering? Many succulent growers focus their watering decisions on how dry their soil feels. This approach is much better for me than sticking to a rigid timetable. Even better, water your succulents when they show signs of needing it rather than before. My ideal tool to measure the water content of soil is a chopstick “moisture gauge Place the chopstick in the ground. Do not water if it emerges feeling or looking moist or with earth clinging to it. It’s time to water when it comes out clean and dry!
Where to Buy Pebbles for Succulents?
Where can I acquire succulent top dressings now that I’ve explained why and how to apply them? I can suggest a few excellent sources. First, there is a part of my Amazon store dedicated to top dressing for succulents. Sand to gravel are represented by a variety of hues, styles, and sizes. Additionally, Mountain Crest Gardens provides a great selection of rocks and sand for succulents. With the aforementioned cautions in mind, think about home supply stores, pet stores, and aquarium supply stores. Make inventive decisions!
Will you use top dressing to finish your succulent planters now that you are aware of all the advantages? I’m curious to know! Let me know what you think or if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.
P.P.S. Would you consider joining my Facebook group for cactus lovers? We discuss design, identification, propagation, and care of succulents. They’re a friendly bunch who would love to meet you!