DIY Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix

Joy Us garden
by Joy Us garden
5 Materials
30 Minutes

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.

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 sight 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.”

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 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.

1 scoop of coco peat.

4 scoops of pumice.

1/2 scoop vermiculite.

1/2 cup agricultural lime & elemite.

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.

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.

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

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

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

This 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,

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3 of 7 questions
  • Sarah Studer Sarah Studer on Jun 20, 2019

    Will this work for a Christmas cactus

  • Nicole Nicole on Aug 02, 2020

    I have absolutely no idea what kind of cacti I have but I think they are dying. They were pretty bright green and now they have yellow and white lines all over them. Will this mix work for them?

  • Drew Drew on Jul 27, 2022

    I've been using a cactus soil mix from a local garden merchant and he told me it has tobacco in it. I couldn't find much info on this except that dried tobacco leaves can be used as an insecticide, anyone else heard of or using this? I actually saw dried tobacco in the garden center at the local Home Depot, but wasn't sure what it was for.

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4 of 13 comments
  • Doug Kizerian Doug Kizerian on May 18, 2019

    THis is nice to know i need a good cactus/succulent mix. likely make my own I live in Tubac. I know where Eco gro is but I have never been there...I was looking on line for DIY mixes and found you..I already have Lime just need some of the other stuff thanx for the info

    • Joy Us garden Joy Us garden on May 18, 2019

      Great Doug. I've made 6 or 7 batches since I got the recipe. It's repotting time! EcoGro is a fun store & right off the I-10. Well worth a visit. Nell

  • Therese Wood Therese Wood on May 23, 2019

    I love your video! I am new to the succulent and cacti world having just relocated to Las Vegas! I have succulents that dont seem to be doing well in the planter they came in, so having a healthier mix may do them some good! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joy Us garden Joy Us garden on May 23, 2019

      Thank you Therese! I often repot houseplants soon after I buy them so I can plant them in a better mix. My succulents are lovin' the blend you see in this post & video. Nell