Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix For Pots: A Recipe To Make Your Own

Do you plant succulents and cacti on the regular like me? Have you ever wanted to make you own mix? I always have some kind of potting project going on and keep a variety of ingredients on hand. I’d like to share this recipe for succulent and cactus soil mix so you can make your own too.

I get asked 1 of these questions every month or 2 and wanted to answer them here. “What kind of soil should I use for my cactus and succulents?” “What soil is best for my succulents in a pot?” “Can I plant my succulents growing indoors in potting soil?”

Here’s what you want in a succulent and cactus mix.

This applies to whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors. 1) The mix needs to have excellent drainage. 2) It important to be well aerated. 3) It needs to be soil-less. Regular garden soil is way too heavy. 4) Which leads us to: it needs to be light.

succulents & ingredients to make your own succulent & cactus soil mix on a work table

All set to get going on the mix. I used a metal bin but a pail, wastebasket or plastic bin works fine too.

The roots, stems and leaves of succulents and cacti all store water and can easily succumb to root rot. The roots need oxygen and a mix which is light, well aerated, drains well and is soilless helps to prevent overwatering.

You can make your own succulent and cactus mix, buy it online or at your local garden center. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I would usually buy my mix from the California Cactus Center as they formulated their own. Here in Tucson, I stated buying Tank’s which is also a local mix.

I was visiting my friends at Eco Gro (a place for we plant aficionados) a few weeks ago and was in need of succulent and cactus mix. They were out of Tank’s and sold me a bag of their own mix. The mix is formulated on site but the original recipe comes from Mark A. Dimmitt who is local and well known in plant circles. That’s why it’s known as “MAD Mix”.

6 ingredients to make your own succulent & cactus mix

The ingredients I use for this mix.

Here’s the succulent & cactus soil mix recipe:

This mix is suitable whether you’re growing succulents & cacti indoors in pots or outdoors in pots.

I bought all my ingredients at Eco Gro & will list the same or similar products but different brands which you can find online below.

6 scoops of coco chips n fiber. I bought all my ingredients at Eco Gro & will list similar products here. Similar.

1 scoop of coco peat. Similar.

4 scoops of pumice. Similar.

1/2 scoop vermiculite. Similar.

1/2 cup agricultural lime & elemite. Elemite is hard to find online – I buy it in store at Eco Gro. Azomite is similar in that it’s also a mineral rock dust & makes for a good alternative.

What you use for a scoop is up to you. At Eco Gro they use a good sized soil scoop which is approximately equal to a large yogurt container. I’m not sure if the 1/2 cup measurement is 1/2 a cup of each or 1/2 cup combined. I went on the side of caution and added in 1/4 cup of each. I’ll get the measurement next time I’m back at Eco Gro and clarify it here. * I checked & the measurement is 1/2 cup of each.*

Peat moss is often used in soil mixes but I prefer coco coir. It’s a much more environmentally friendly alternative and if you’re interested, can read more about that here and here.

blocks of coco fiber & coco chips in a teal pail & a red pail

The coco bricks just before adding water to expand.

The coco bricks need to be hydrated prior to using (usually a few times) and you can see that in the video. They expand after hydrating and you can use them damp or dry. There’s no need to hydrate them again when using in this or other mixes.

Cost to make the amount of mix I made:

I bought all the ingredients locally. The cost may vary for you depending on where you purchase everything. The only thing completely used up was the pumice – I have a good amount of everything else left over to make more batches.

Approximate cost: $9

This mix can be used for:

Indoor succulents, which includes cacti too. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. We generally think of “succulents” as fleshy succulents like Burro’s Tail, String Of Pearls, Aeoniums, Aloe Vera & the like. Now that I live in Arizona, cacti are a big part of my horticultural life!

Outdoor succulents, including cacti.

Propagating succulents & other plants too. I have some Baby Rubber Plant stem cuttings rooting right now in water & I’ll plant them in this mix in a 4″ pot while they’re establishing. I could have also planted them directly in this mix. This works when propagating hoyas and snake plants too.

Mixing in with potting soil and other ingredients for hoyas, snake plants, bromeliads, peperomias & any other plants where I want to up the ante on the drainage & aeration

homemade succulent & cactus mix in a metal bin with a trowel in it

For all the repotting & planting I have to do this spring, I need to make at least 10 more batches of this mix!

a bowl of diy succulent & cactus mix sits in front of a black bag with a finger pointing to it

You can get an idea of how much 1 batch of this recipe made for me here.

How I plant succulents:

I’ll water the plant a few days before & then plant it into this mix. I leave the rootball up a bit because it’ll eventually sink down into this light mix. I keep it dry for 3-10 days while it’s settling in & then water thoroughly. You want your succulents to dry between waterings, especially cacti. More on succulents here.

4 succulents, 1 of them blooming, surround 2 pots filled with succulent & cactus mix

The mix & some fun succulents.

This DIY succulent and cactus mix is so easy to make and cost effective to boot. It’s very light unlike much heavier bags of potting soil and planting mix. If you live in a small space, it won’t take up much room to store. And, most important of all, succulents and cacti love it!

Happy gardening,


Learn More About Planting Succulents in Pots:

How To Make An Indoor Cactus Garden

What To Know About Planting Aloe Vera In Containers

Repotting Snake Plants: The Mix To Use & How To Do It

How to Plant & Water Succulents In Pots Without Drain Holes

What You Need To Know About Transplanting Succulents In Pots

This post may contain affiliate links, you can read our policies here.

Similar Posts


  1. Hello,
    I’m new to your webpage. My boss just recently gave me a “Moth Orchid” for Admin. Professional Day.

    I’m wondering if I can plant it into a pot with soil instead of the bark?
    if in soil, do I need to use Fertilizer too?

    Thanks so much, 🙂

  2. Hi Nell. Most of my other succulents are all in their own pots, so I decided to try something different. I couldn’t find cactus soil where I live so I mixed my own soil using compost (a cheap one which didn’t have perlite) bark, sand and gravel. It’s working well so far, but after reading your article I want to try your mix out because this seems to be more effective for my beautiful succulents. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Nancy – As I said, there are many variations on s & c mix. I usually recommend a mix like this because it helps to prevent root rot. Glad you found one which works for you! Nell

  4. Hello

    I would like to know if perlite is necessary for succulents since I planted mine without it

  5. Shirley – I use pumice in my s & c mix. You want the mix to be light, drain well & have aeration. Pumice & perlite aid in this. Nell

Comments are closed.