Choosing the Best Soil Amendment for Succulents - 🌵 Vermiculite vs. Perlite: Battle of the Soil Boosters

When it comes to creating the perfect soil mix for your succulents, the choice between vermiculite and perlite can be a bit confusing. Both are popular soil amendments that help improve drainage and aeration, but they have some distinct differences. So, which one is better for succulent soil? Let's dive in and explore!


Vermiculite is a natural mineral that is often used in gardening and horticulture. It is derived from a group of hydrated laminar minerals called vermiculite. One of the key benefits of vermiculite is its ability to retain moisture. It has a high water-holding capacity, which can be beneficial for succulents that prefer slightly more moisture in their soil.

However, it's important to note that succulents generally prefer well-draining soil to prevent root rot. While vermiculite can retain moisture, it can also hold onto water for longer periods, which may not be ideal for succulents. If you decide to use vermiculite in your succulent soil mix, it's crucial to adjust the ratio to ensure proper drainage.


Perlite, on the other hand, is a volcanic glass that is commonly used in gardening. It is created by heating volcanic rock to high temperatures, causing it to expand and form lightweight, porous particles. Perlite is known for its excellent drainage properties, making it a popular choice for succulent soil mixes.

The porous nature of perlite allows for increased airflow and prevents water from pooling around the roots of your succulents. This helps prevent root rot and allows the roots to breathe. Perlite also helps to break up compacted soil, promoting healthy root growth.

Choosing the Right Soil Mix:

When it comes to creating the best soil mix for your succulents, a combination of vermiculite and perlite can be a great option. The ratio will depend on the specific needs of your succulents and the environmental conditions they are grown in.

A general guideline is to use a well-draining soil mix that consists of 50% perlite, 25% vermiculite, and 25% organic matter, such as potting soil or coco coir. This combination provides a balance of moisture retention, drainage, and aeration, creating an ideal environment for your succulents to thrive.

Substituting Vermiculite and Perlite:

If you don't have access to vermiculite or perlite, there are alternative options you can consider. For vermiculite, you can use materials like coconut coir or peat moss, which also have good water-holding capacity. Just be sure to adjust the ratio accordingly to maintain proper drainage.

As for perlite, you can substitute it with materials like pumice or coarse sand, which provide similar drainage properties. Again, adjust the ratio to ensure the soil mix is well-draining.


In the debate between vermiculite and perlite for succulent soil, both have their advantages. Vermiculite retains moisture, while perlite provides excellent drainage. By combining the two in the right ratio, you can create a well-balanced soil mix that meets the needs of your succulents.

Remember, every succulent is unique, so it's essential to observe your plants and adjust the soil mix as needed. With the right soil, your succulents will have a strong foundation for healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Happy gardening!

Meredith Hyatt
Hiking, reading, experimenting with soil mixes

Meredith Hyatt is a passionate succulent grower with over a decade's experience in nurturing and propagating these resilient plants. She takes pleasure in experimenting with varying soil compositions and breeding new plants from cuttings. When she's not immersed in her succulent garden, Meredith takes to the trails for some hiking or unwinds with a good book.