Can You Use Regular Potting Soil for Succulents and Cacti?


It’s important that you choose the right type of potting mix for your succulent or cactus to ensure it will thrive.

But one common question that many people have is whether or not they should use regular potting soil for succulents and cacti.

Succulents and cacti require a particular type of soil in order to grow.

They need an airy soil with a good drainage system so they don’t rot and turn black, which can happen when the potting mix is too moist or doesn’t allow for enough airflow.

Regular potting mix does not meet these needs because it tends to be heavy and dense, which causes the roots to suffocate over time.

Here you will find the differences between regular potting mix and succulent potting mix and how to prepare the best soil mixture for these plants.

What Kind of Soil Do Succulents and Cacti Need?

The soil that succulents and cacti need needs to be light, airy with good drainage, and doesn’t retain water excessively or not enough, so they never dry out completely.

The best type of soil for these plants would probably be a succulent planting medium or cactus potting mix. Both have excellent properties for easy drainage without being too coarse.

The idea behind a succulent planting medium is that it holds more water than a typical potting mix while still allowing air to circulate, which helps roots thrive.

The mixture typically consists of 50% peat moss, 25% perlite, and 25% coarse sand or pumice.

These ingredients are occasionally mixed with composted manure, but not always because some people like their plants on the cleaner side.

Cactus potting mixes also have excellent properties for easy drainage without being too coarse. They can be made from something as simple as loose-fitting particles (like gravel) combined with a bit of composted manure or fertilizer if desired.

Differences Between Regular Potting Soil and Succulent Potting Soil

The most crucial difference between regular potting soil and succulent potting soil is the amount of water that it absorbs.

Succulents and cacti are best suited to dry conditions. It would be best if you planted them in a soil mix with a porous material made from rocks or pebbles, which help them retain moisture.

This type of medium also allows for good air circulation around roots, preventing rot.

Regular potting mix, as well as a orchid soil mix, retains more water than succulent potting soil. 

But hardy succulents need less frequent watering. They have smaller root systems that don’t store as much water and make regular potting soil too wet for their needs. 

Likewise, a regular potting mix does not offer enough drainage. Still, a succulent potting mix has plenty of holes for excess water to escape.

Regular potting mix is more suitable for plants like African violets, orchids, and begonias which need regular watering.

Are Differences Between Succulents and Cacti Soil Needs?

If you are wondering whether or not to use regular potting soil for succulents and cacti. In that case, it is important to know the difference between succulent soil mix and cactus soil mix.

Cacti need a sandy soil mix that retains less water, has good drainage, and needs more potassium.

Succulents are happiest with a nice potting medium that does not retain too much moisture because they don’t store as much water in their root systems.

Regular potting soil is not suitable for succulent plants due to the increased watering frequency required by regular potting mix. It also makes them susceptible to rot from staying wet all of the time.

Regular potting soil might be better suited for other types of plants that prefer soils that retain more water than succulents do (like African violets).

The best kind of cactus soil mix to use for your cactus plant would be a well-draining sandy loam. It will also have a higher organic matter than typical of the average succulent preference.

Cacti also need more fertilizer for their root system to develop properly. They will also need periodic watering from an overhead source like showers or sprinklers rather than just relying on rainfall (which means less water loss).

For succulents, the best potting soil mix will be different. It will have more organic material and less fertilizer.

Also, the succulent soil should be allowed to dry out between watering to not rot or otherwise damage their roots.

How To Prepare Succulents and Cacti Potting Soil

Several types of potting soil are recommended for succulents and cacti, and each one has different ratios of ingredients.

To decide which is best, it is important to know what type of succulents or cacti you are growing and their specific needs.

The most common types recommended by experts are:

  1. Regular potting soil with some extra sand added in (for good drainage). 
  2. A mix containing coir fiber because it has excellent water retention. 
  3. A mixture primarily composed of perlite for its airy consistency.

The mixture of the different types of soil are:

For a Succulent MIX

The ratio is: 50% potting soil – 25% sand – 25% coir fiber. This potting mix is recommended for cacti too, and for any succulent plant that needs high drainage.

For a Cactus MIX 

For a cactus mix containing perlite as the primary ingredient, the radio is: 50% potting soil – 25% coarse sand – 25% perlite. This mix works well with plants like aloe vera and jade because they can withstand drier conditions; there are different ratios for seedlings or mature plants, though.

For an All-Purpose Cacti MIX 

The ratio is: 40% perlite or vermiculite and 60% regular potting soil with some added sand for good drainage. This potting mix is usually just for cacti and succulents but can also work well with other plants.

In addition to these ratios, it is important to consider if you have time for your plants or whether they are in full sun exposure and growing succulents indoors.

These factors will determine how often you water them and what type of succulent mix/cacti mix would work best for your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

Succulents and cacti need a porous material made from rocks or pebbles in their soil mix to retain moisture.

This potting mix is called an open medium because it allows for good air circulation around roots, preventing rot.

Regular potting mix retains more water than succulent mix. Therefore, regular potting soil would be too wet for succulents and cactus plants.

Likewise, a regular potting mix does not offer enough soil drainage.

Succulents need different soil than what’s typically used in pots.

 A soilless mixture of ingredients mixed with pot holes allows excess water to drain from the soil and help maintain a proper succulent’s moisture level without causing any root damage.

So, can you use regular potting soil for succulents and cacti? You can use it, but for the sake of your succulents and cacti, use a better option.

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