Succulent Potting Soil Mix – Reviews

Potting soil and scoopWe have talked about how important soil is for growing succulents and cacti here and here. We know the soil needs to be well-draining and fast draining.

But, will any succulent potting soil mix do? Are all soils created equal? Will the same soil work for my desert succulents and my rain forest succulents? Maybe, let’s take a look.

What Are We Looking for in a Soil?

First, let’s talk about what we should be looking for, what should a good soil have or not have and what kind of soil is perfect for succulents and cacti?

Soil contains two things:

  1. Inorganic Matter – It was never alive, contains no carbon (metal, minerals, sand, perlite)
  2. Organic Material and Organic Matter – Capable of decay (trees, plants, animals, manure)

Organic matter holds water, helps water seep into the soil, and causes the soil to clump.

Inorganic matter drains well and keeps the soil loose.

Based on that, the more inorganic matter the better.

We haven’t talked about soil pH before, let me explain that a little here. Soil is either acid or alkaline and in some cases, neutral. Some plants, like azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and strawberries grow best if the soil is acidic. In general, the soil is acidic if there is a lot of organic matter decay (organic material).

Other plants like lavender, honeysuckle, and lilacs grow best in alkaline soil. Alkaline soil contains calcium, sodium, and magnesium (inorganic matter).

Succulents and cacti prefer a soil that has a pH of 5 (slightly acidic) to 7 (neutral), see chart below.pH scaleSo far, we know succulents prefer more inorganic matter in the soil and they also prefer a soil that is a 5-7 on the pH scale. That’s where things get just a tiny complicated. Acidic soil comes from more organic material but succulents need a soil that is more inorganic, we need a good balance.

As we review the following soils, we will be looking at 6 things.

  1. Price – It would be great if price weren’t a consideration but it is
  2. Bag Size
  3. Price per quart – With different sizes and prices, this lets us compare apples to apples
  4. Ingredients – We know we need ingredients that allow proper drainage
  5. pH balanced – Is it pre-checked for us (not a deal-breaker)
  6. Number of Amazon reviews and overall rating – Gives us an overview of other people’s experiences

Please keep in mind that these reviews are based on the information available at the time of this writing. Packaging, prices, number of reviews, etc. will fluctuate.

Also, there are hundreds of soils for succulents and cacti, I did not review any soil that costs over $3.00 per quart, was not available on Amazon, did not have at least a 4.0 rating on Amazon, did not have at least 100 reviews, or did not meet minimum soil requirements (material for drainage) and then I picked 5 because, well, sometimes more choices make it harder to decide (for me anyway).

Miracle Grow – Cactus, Palm, and Citrus SoilBags of Miracle Grow Cactus Potting Soil

  • Price: $21.99
  • Bag Size – 16 quarts (2-8 quart bags)
  • Cost per quart – $1.37
  • Ingredients include: Forest products, sand, and perlite
  • Not pH balanced (not a deal-breaker)
  • 328 Amazon reviews with a 4.2 overall rating

Miracle Grow has been around for years and offers a wide range of soil for a wide range of gardening needs, I have always had great success with Miracle Grow. This soil also has food to feed your succulent for up to 3 months. The ingredients include material to allow for fast drainage and loose soil which is crucial to a succulents health.

The only concern I have is the included food/fertilizer. I have never had a problem but if/when a succulent go dormant the last thing it needs is food.

Order here.

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil MixBag of Hoffman Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix

  • Price: $9.74
  • Bag Size: 4 quarts
  • Cost per Quart: $2.44
  • Ingredients include: Canadian sphagnum peat moss, reed sedge peat, perlite, sand, and limestone
  • pH balanced
  • 865 Amazon reviews with a 4.4 overall rating

Again, the soil contains enough material to allow for great drainage. Specifically says it will work well with rain forest and desert succulents/cacti. There does not appear to be any food/fertilizer added and it is pH balanced specifically for succulents.

Order here.

Black and Gold Cactus MixBlack and Gold Cactus Mix Potting Soil Label

  • Price: $23.64
  • Bag Size: 16 quarts (2-8 quart bags)
  • Cost per Quart: $1.48
  • Ingredients include: Pumice, earthworm castings, compost, and forest humus
  • Not pH balanced (not a deal-breaker)
  • 137 Amazon reviews with a 4.2 overall rating

Specifically says “blended to suit the unique growing needs of all cactus and succulents” and no additives needed. There does not seem to be any fertilizer added. This mixture is light because it has more inorganic matter in it, so it won’t weigh down roots. I do like that it has earthworm castings added to it and is still inexpensive.

Order here. This price per quart seems to fluctuate frequently.

Perfect Plants Succulent Soil MixSucculents in a pot with overflowing soil

  • Price: $9.99
  • Bag Size: 4 quart
  • Cost per Quart: $2.50
  • Ingredients: Organic peat moss, composted pine bark, perlite, and lime and other vital ingredients
  • Not pH balanced (not a deal-breaker)
  • 219 Amazon reviews with a 4.4 overall rating

Again, the soil contains enough material to allow for great drainage. My biggest concern here is the “other vital ingredients”, maybe they change based on availability which I totally understand but I would like to know what could be included in the soil.

Order here.

Bliss Gardens Organic Succulent and Cactus SoilPerson holding potting soil

This is a hand made soil and I love the ingredients! They add a lot of items to their soil to help with pH and drainage. The only thing I don’t like is the cost per quart. You will probably need to water less often with this mix.

Order here.

Other Things to Consider

I mentioned the pH because I wanted you to be aware, I do not think it is necessary that the soil be pre pH balanced.

As I have said before, the most important thing you can do is to keep an eye on your succulents, look for changes in them and err on the side of under watering vs. overwatering. I think it is fine to use the same soil for all your succulents and cacti as long as you are watching them.

It is possible the formulas for these soils will change or have changed since this was published. In general, the soil should drain well enough and fast enough that your succulent is dry within 2 days of being watered. If this is not the case, try a new soil.

Also, it is possible to get soil (no matter where you get it) that has gnats in it. This is more likely if you get a bag of damp soil. A lot of home remedies talk about freezing the soil or putting it in the oven, I don’t agree with those. If you freeze the bag, the gnats will just go dormant and once out of the freezer, will be active again. The oven would kill all living things in the soil and since most of the soils contain some organic matter, this isn’t the best solution either.

My suggestion for new bags of soil – open your bag of soil outside and dump it in a large planter/pot or a wheelbarrow, whatever you have. Leave it outside of your home and make sure it is totally dry and gnat free (will take a few days to know for sure). You can help it along by mixing it up a few times. This may seem overly cautious, but trust me, you do not want all those tiny, annoying gnats in your home. Make sure animals can’t bury anything in it or make it their new restroom, no matter the brand, it doesn’t need more organic material. 🙂

I hope you have found this helpful, as always, questions or comments? Leave them below, I love to hear from you!

2 Responses

  1. A lot goes into growing plants especially when comes to soil. Thank you for breaking it down in this post. Very valuable stuff!

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