Yes, succulents need special soil. All houseplants need aerated potting soil, whereas in-ground plants use nutrient-dense topsoil. Drought-resistant succulents, however, benefit from soil that’s even more aerated than regular potting soil. This is done by adding a slightly higher concentration of perlite and sand to the potting mix. The extra aeration helps prevent root rot by allowing the soil to drain and dry out more quickly.
What about houseplants that have already been potted? Do succulents need special soil to survive? Certainly, many succulents can tolerate ordinary potting soil, which already has considerable aeration, but it does complicate the plant care. Specifically, you’ll have less room for error when it comes to overwatering and underwatering. You may be able to repot the succulent in the preferred dry potting mix. Most plants can overcome the short-term stress of being repotted, especially if the new conditions are compatible for the plant.
Now, if the succulent has been doing fine in its current potting soil and watering schedule, you might simply use the special potgting soil for succulents when the time comes to add soil. The opposite is also true. Many tropical houseplants can survive or even thrive in the dry potting mix for succulents by watering just a little more frequently than you would otherwise. That said, it’s hard enough to get the watering schedule just right for healthy houseplants with strong growth. We recommend using special potting soil for succulents when putting a plant in a new pot.
How to Find Special Potting Soil for Succulents
The good news is that it’s easy to find the special soil that succulents need. Major gardening brands offer specially formulated potting soil for succulents and cactuses. There may be other subtle differences as well, but usually these potting mixes simply have more perlite, sand or other aerating agents. You can also make your own special potting soil for succulents. Here is a DIY succulent potting soil mix from Get Busy Gardening, or you can also check out this YouTube video from Fine Gardening.
Use Dry Potting Soil to Help with Overwatering
If you feel like you’re consistently following the water recommendations for your houseplants but still seeing signs of overwatering, it could be a sign that your potting mix is holding too much moisture. People who make the mistake of using topsoil for their houseplants will inevitably struggle with root rot. Putting houseplants in pots without drainage is another common reason to use potting soil with more aeration. Sometimes, root rot can be an issue even with tropical plants that prefer consistently moist soil. The first step is to reduce the frequency and/or amount of water, but another way to help this problem is to add perlite or some succulent potting mix to increase the aeration in your pot.
Other Types of Potting Soil for Indoor Plants
Many types of houseplants will thrive in a standard indoor potting mix that is formulated to provide a viable growing medium for a wide variety of plants. In addition to special soil for succulents and cactuses, there are different types of potting soil and growing mediums for orchids, African violets, and other specialized houseplants. There are also moisture control soil mixes that retain but then slowly release moisture into the soil.