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Ask Nell: How Did I Prep The Soil For My Succulent Garden?

I got the question: can you do a video about how you did the soil prep for your succulent garden? Here's what I used plus how I did it along with how I succulent container garden.

Soil Prep Succulent Garden


This question came from a youtube viewer who asked: can you do a video about how you did the soil prep for your succulent garden?  This is a great question because I am a firm believer in properly prepping the soil and planting the right plants in the right spot.  It comes down to good soil, good garden.  Here’s the soil prep I did when planting my own garden, as well as a couple of tips for planting succulents in pots.

You can see more pictures of my succulent garden as well as some in pots HERE.

Soil For Succulents

Here are things I considered as well as the steps I took:

* the pH of the soil.

* made sure whatever I did to the native soil & whatever I added facilitated drainage.

* removed existing plants I did not want.

* loosened the native soil with a fork & shovel.

* had 4 cubic yards of topsoil (20% organic compost, 80% screened sandy loam) delivered & worked it into the native soil.  this built the beds up & lightened the soil.

* had 3 cubic yards of organic compost delivered also to mix into the top layer.

* put organic compost & worm castings into each planting hole. both enrich the soil naturally so the roots are healthy & the plants grow stronger. by the way, succulents don’t root deeply so no need to dig a huge hole.

This is explained in a lot more detail here as well as what I use when planting succulents in containers:

I do a lot of succulent container gardening because I love both succulents and containers.  The same applies for the mix you use in containers as in the garden: drainage is important.  And of course, I always add worm castings when I plant. In the late winter or early spring, all my containers get top dressed with compost and worm castings.  The health of the soil helps to determine the health of the plants.  Healthy plants = a good lookin’ garden!

Soil For Succulents

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  1. Hey Nell!

    Wow, your sight has so much information, and is exactly what I have been looking for. I really would like to see something, in detail, about watering succulents. I am new to succulents and have fallen deeply in love with them. Yet, it seems I may be watering too often. So difficult to understand when to water and when to leave alone. I have read and read about it, yet I still seem to get it wrong. I live near Phoenix, so it is hot. My succulents live on my covered patio, which faces South. They seem happy for about three months and then quickly die off. I am starving for more information. I did learn so much about soil. I will be fixing this right away. Kind regards, Laura

  2. Hi Laura – Thanks so much for the comment! Yes, Phoenix is very hot in the summer which I know because I spent my last 2 1/2 years of college in Tucson. Those leaves filled with water burn in that hot sun. If your patio faces south, they may be receiving too much sun every though it’s covered. Also, if they’re in small pots, then they dry out faster. I can certainly do a video for you but let me know how often you’re watering them & the size pots they’re in. If you know a few names, that would be helpful too. All the best, Nell

  3. Hi, I recently found your website and I’m loving all the tips and advice you have! I’m 16 and I just love succulents but I live in Las Vegas (desert) so I’ve been having to keep all my succulents on windowsills but I’ve been wondering what succulent families would do well outside since summers can get to around 115 F and winters to 40 F. Thank you!

  4. Thank you Diego! We once did the floral & plant decor for a New Year’s Eve party at the MGM Grand & all the bougainvilleas froze on the truck overnight so we learned about the colder winters the hard way. Succulents with fleshy leaves will burn in that hot sun & conversely freeze below 32 degrees. Many of the Agaves are cold/heat tolerant. A general rule: anything with spines & needles is tolerant of hot all day sun. Genus’ with spines to look for in your area: opuntia, cereus & echinocactus. Hope that helps! Nell

  5. Thank you so much! Now I can take my passion outside

  6. You’re welcome – enjoy the great outdoors! Nell

  7. Hi I would like to know especifically which ingredients the soil prep need to grow succulents or cacti?
    Thank you

  8. Hi Nisa – What ingredients &/or amendments you use depends on what type of soil you have. They need excellent drainage. I added loam when prepping my garden. If you’re unsure, get a soil test to determine what your soil needs. Nell

  9. Thank you for all your excellent tips and videos regarding succulents. I have started with this passion 3 months ago and my place looks like a nursery already…Want to do a succulent garden now as have SO MANY plants and need to prep space with right soil. Your info is amazing and I am following you all the way from SOUTH AFRICA….Just a pity we do not have such a huge variety like you guys..Huggs and love from far over the sea..Wonderful site xx

  10. Hi Beverley – Thank you so much! The climate in South Africa is similar to that in Santa Barbara, CA so I’m familiar with quite a few of your wonderful native plants. Succulents are addictive so beware! I now live in Tucson Arizona & am creating a whole new garden. By the way, my middle name is Beverley (spelled the same way!). Hugs from the desert, Nell

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