Succulents are very popular plants with their wonderful shapes and colors and they are drought tolerant to boot. I have found that not just any soil will make them happy. Ordinary potting soil holds too much moisture for these plants so I have taken to making my own mix. It is cheaper than purchasing commercially made stuff and it is super easy.
Over watering is the biggest cause of death for succulents. That’s why it’s so important to use the right well draining soil mix. The first ingredient is potting soil. Do not use a potting soil that has vermiculite in it or a moisture control additive that makes it retain water. Also, do not use heavy garden soil.
Succulents grow best in a porous soil so adding sand is the next ingredient. To make the mixture a well draining one, using coarse sand is preferred over something finer like sandbox sand. You can also use poultry grit in place of the sand.
The final ingredient is perlite. This looks like little bits of styrofoam. It prevents soil compaction and adds to the draining properties of this mix. Pumice can also be used in place of the perlite.
You will use three parts potting soil, two parts sand and one part perlite. A “part” is just a unit of measure. You can use anything you want to measure your ingredients, so long as you use the same type of measure for all of your parts. For instance, I used a scoop to measure my one part, then used it two times to measure my two parts and three times for the three parts. Dump all of this into a container, like a bucket or mixing tub and stir it all together. Make sure it is evenly mixed.
The nice thing about making your own succulent mix is that you can make as little or as much as you need. Mix up a big batch and store it for later use. Make sure it is nice and dry before sealing it up in a container.
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co. 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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