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Do Succulents Like Vermiculite

Succulents need the right kind of soil to thrive. They don’t like their roots sitting in wet soil. Houseplant potting mix retains too much water for these plants and can become compacted over time. Something must be added to the soil to prevent the roots from suffocating and allow the water to drain quickly. Do Succulents Like Vermiculite?

No, succulents won’t thrive with vermiculite added to their potting soil. It will help aerate the soil and prevent compaction but holds too much moisture within it to allow the drainage that succulents need.

Now that you know vermiculite isn’t beneficial for succulents, you may have other questions. Let’s dive in to learn more about succulents’ soil requirements, what else will help them grow and thrive, and more.

Why Isn’t Vermiculite Good for Succulents?

Vermiculite is a mineral that has been heated to expand into worm-like strands, then broken into silver-gray or brown-gold flakes. It absorbs and retains three times its weight in water, absorbs nutrients, and helps prevent the compaction of the soil.

When vermiculite is added to potting soil, moisture will be available to the plant when needed, and you won’t have water as often. This makes it ideal for growing seeds and rooting cuttings and plants that require consistent moisture.

Even though vermiculite helps aerate the soil, which prevents it from compacting around the roots, the water-retaining properties make it less than ideal for succulents. These plants need a fast-draining growing medium that will dry out completely before their next watering.

What is Better for Succulents Than Vermiculite?

Perlite or pumice, neither of which hold onto water, are more appropriate for growing succulents than vermiculite. They’re both lightweight and reduce the density of the soil so roots can have enough oxygen.

Is one better than the other? Read about each and decide which one works best for your situation.

Perlite

Perlite looks like tiny pieces of styrofoam. It’s made from volcanic glass that has been heated until it explodes like popcorn into pieces. It’s found in many potting mixes.

It aerates the soil and helps prevent it from being compressed around the roots. Although it retains some moisture, it ensures water drains through the soil entirely. It’s ideal for succulents because the plants’ roots will not be sitting in damp soil.

There are three sizes of perlite. The larger sizes would be more practical if you have large outdoor pots, and the smallest particle size is best for most indoor pots.

Advantages of perlite:

  • It’s easy to find wherever you buy gardening supplies.
  • It’s inexpensive.

Disadvantages of perlite:

  • It can float to the top of the soil when watering over time because it’s so lightweight.
  • The tiny particles can be very dusty. Using a dust mask when handling it or rinsing it first is recommended.

Pumice

Pumice is a porous rock formed during volcanic eruptions.

Pumice mining is considered more environmentally friendly since it’s deposited from the volcano onto the surface around it, so blasting isn’t necessary. Less processing is needed, just crushing it into size.

Like perlite, it aerates the soil and improves the soil’s drainage. Unlike perlite, it won’t float to the top of your soil. It’s heavier than perlite yet still lightweight. Pumice is suitable for top-heavy plants, helping to prevent them from tipping over.

Advantages of pumice:

  • More environmentally friendly mining and processing.
  • Won’t float to the surface of the soil.

Disadvantages of pumice:

  • It can be harder to find.
  • It’s more expensive than perlite.
  • It’s dusty. Using a mask and rinsing it is recommended.

What is the Best Potting Mix for Succulents?

There are commercially prepared potting mixes sold for succulents and cactus. Some succulent hobbyists prefer to mix up their own, as it can be cheaper, and you can mix up what you need.

Even if you don’t make your own soil mix, you should repot your succulents when you bring them home, so they have the best growing medium.

There are three components to the soil that succulents will thrive in:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Perlite or pumice
  3. Coarse sand

If you want to make your own, start with a general potting soil without plant food or any mention of moisture control.

Then you will add coarse sand. Don’t use play sand for a sandbox or sand from the beach. You want sand meant for growing succulents, bonsai, or carnivore plants. An alternative is poultry grit, which you can buy at feed stores.

Then you will add the perlite or pumice.

You’ll need a container to measure the components, a trowel, and something to mix it all in.

The ratios to use are:

  • Three parts potting soil
  • Two parts coarse sand
  • One part perlite or pumice

You can store any extra in a covered container.

What is the Best Way to Care for Succulents?

Succulents are native to hot, dry climates. Some varieties can survive the cold since it does get cold at night in the desert during the winter.

They have thick leaves and stems that are meant to store water. Most have green leaves, and some have shades of pink, blue, red, and orange. They make great, low-maintenance houseplants.

If succulents’ needs are met, they will be happy. We’ve just gone over their soil needs. Here’s what else they need:

Light

Most succulents need bright light, if not full sunlight. A sunny windowsill is the best spot for these. Check on your plant’s needs since a few varieties prefer partial shade.

If they don’t get enough light, they can get leggy and lean to one side as they grow towards the sun. Rotating the pot can mean they’ll grow straighter, but they’ll still be taller than they should be if they get full sun.

You can put them under a grow light if you can’t move them to a brighter spot.

Water

Overwatering can kill a succulent. The soil must be completely dry before watering. Except for the winter, you may only need to water these plants every two weeks. But to be sure, stick your finger in about 1.5 inches. If you feel any dampness, wait and check in a few days.

Don’t mist them with a spray bottle. That can cause mold on the leaves.

Pots

The pot must have a drainage hole so water cannot collect in it. Water until the water runs out the bottom. Drain the saucer after about five minutes to ensure all the water has run through the soil.

Terracotta pots work well for succulents because the clay helps wick away moisture in the soil.

Fertilizer

Feed your succulents with either a fertilizer designed for succulents or a general-purpose one. Only feed a few times in the spring and summer.

Winter Care

During the winter, succulents go dormant and need less frequent watering than the rest of the year. Remember, they store water in their leaves so that they can go quite a while without water. 

Once a month in the winter may be all they need. Again, use your finger to check the soil’s dryness.

Final Thoughts

Succulents are popular and low-maintenance plants. Giving them proper soil to grow in is the best way to get them started in your home. They also need sufficient light, not too much water, a pot with a drainage hole, and a little fertilizer.

Given this environment, you can enjoy your healthy, beautiful collection of succulents. Check out the many sizes, shapes, and colors available at the store and from many online sources. You may be surprised how many of them you’d like to grow.