best soil for sedum

sedumqueenMay 8, 2008

al could you please give me a recipe for the best soil for sedum in containers? no matter what i do it ends up getting hard like concrete.also is newspaper good to mix in with soil?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Noooo newspaper please. It's almost all cellulose & will break down into sludge very quickly.

Here's the deal with sedum. They demand good drainage, which means that you need a coarse soil in most containers and a very coarse soil in shallow containers. I grow them in the same soil I use for succulents & they do very well.

3 parts Turface (Schultz soil conditioner is the same stuff)
3 parts crushed granite (farm feed store)
3 parts pine or fir bark
1 part coarse silica sand (masonry supply company)
1 part vermiculite
gypsum or dolomitic lime (I use gypsum)
a micronutrient source or use a fertilizer with all the secondary macros and all the micros. You can skip the gypsum or lime if your fertilizer contains Ca and Mg. When you decide what you're going to fertilize with, I can help you decide on good program, if you like.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 4:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oops - I forgot something.

Here is a link that might be useful: This may be helpful, too

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I planted sedum in a window box last spring and used commercial potting soil. They have done fantastic.

I have sedum in my landscape as well and have found them to grown anywhere. The window box has dropped a couple pieces on the ground and they have taken off too. My soil does have good drainage and is acidic.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 5:44PM
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Al, would you please explain the reasons for modifying your basic 1-1-1 bark-Turface-granite mix with vermiculite rather than increasing the bark? Also the sand rather than more granite grit.
And, would you use this for all kinds of plants that require excellent drainage? Which of those get this succulent-sedum mix and which get the basic 1-1-1? All other things being equal, of course :-).

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 11:14AM
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Bumping this to the top in the hope that Al will see it.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 5:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, CC. Sorry I didn't see this before. I add the vermiculite because it's normal for me, and probably others, to allow cacti & succulents to dry down a little more than you would your other containerized plants (like veggies, the flowery stuff, and other plants that prefer the soil evenly damp). This allows the moisture level in the bark to drop below the point where it becomes hydrophobic, so it often absorbs no (or very little) water when you finally do irrigate. The small % of vermiculite added to the soil helps the Turface 'grab' a good amount of water quickly & then allows it to slowly diffuse into the bark. You can do with out it if you prefer, but I would probably up the Turface volume before I would increase the bark beyond 1/3 of the total volume.

The coarse sand is smaller than the crushed granite, and it increases the surface area to which water clings immediately after irrigating. This additional water is also quickly absorbed into the dry bark.

I developed this mix over the years by trial & error, and it should work very well for you. The 1:1:1 mix will work just as well, but it has a narrower margin of error, and if it dries down too much, you have to water twice to be sure the bark is absorbing water (the hydrophobic effect) or really remain alert and stay on top of providing water to your plants as soon as the soil feels dry.

Basically, it's a convenience thing & a little added insurance for you guys. Like I said, you can easily eliminate the silica sand & vermiculite & have an excellent soil for nearly all of your houseplants & succulents.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 7:42PM
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Thanks, Al. Is this fine-tuning for houseplants, mostly?
(Sedums made me think of outdoors as well as indoor plants.)
Do you use it for outdoor plants that need sharp drainage, like Mediterranean natives, or avoid the vermiculite there?
I'm off to pot up a new Convolvulus cneorum, one of the most gorgeous plants in the world, that I have not had for years.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 12:01PM
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leisa_in_md(z6 MD)

This is probably not helpful, but it is funny... well, to me it's funny ;)

My father gave me some sedum three years ago that he had just dug up and split. I had no where to plant it. It lived, roots exposed, in plastic flats with next to no dirt for all this time and was fine. It came back every year.

I have clay soil. I finally transplanted the stuff with no soil ammendments and it's still fine. I really think you can use anything to grow this stuff in!!! It doesn't die!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 4:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

CC - you'll find the drainage in the soil upthread extremely sharp, with or without vermiculite. If you follow the recipe, it will support no perched water - also either with or without the sand/vermiculite, so it's your call as to whether or not you want to use those ingredients. Whenever I offer a soil to a friend to try for their succulents or other plants, I usually include the vermiculite & sand because it makes things easier & offers a little margin for error.

Perhaps others that have tried this soil will comment. I know that Jodi, Nancy, Ross, Sharon .... others have used it & would probably honestly evaluate it if they're reading/following the thread. Remember - I'm not trying to sell you a soil - only trying to make your job as easy as I know how. ;o) I grow lots of herbs like rosemary, santolina, others, in that soil as well.

Good luck - all the best...


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 5:11PM
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I'll try it, Al. I still have some of the plain bark-Turface-granite mix from last year, so I'm using that. When I make a new batch I'll try the vermiculite and sand additions, and do some comparisons.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:14PM
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I think I was surprised to see vermiculite in this mix, Al, because of it breaks down pretty quickly and the basic 1-1-1 is meant to last several years. (I don't remember coming upon this variation before -- can there be posts I haven't read?!!)
I see that it's less than 10% by volume, but I was thinking it could still clog up the nice open spaces.
Do you need to replace this soil more often, then?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:06PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There are apparently posts you haven't read before, because I've been suggesting vermiculite be added to the mix in small volumes for a good long while, but once again, if you have aversion - skip it.

The soil will long outlast the planting. By this, I mean the planting will need repotting because of root issues long before the soil begins to collapse. There is also no need to worry about aeration/porosity; the soil has porosity to spare and stands head and shoulders above 99% of the commercially prepared mixes in the that dept.

Remember - vermiculite doesn't 'rot' like organic components do. It's a mineral product. It's job in the soil is strictly water retention and it will have minimal effect on aeration/porosity in the small volumes I suggest. Where you run into problems is when you start combining it in any volume with other small particulates like peat and compost.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:22AM
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Thanks; I see it could be especially helpful to me in spots that are windy and sunny, for an extra bit of insurance.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 2:00PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi CC,

The soil mix that Al listed up thread works SUPER for all my succulents, I only have one Sedum but that is in that mix also. You will be very happy with the results. My succulents are all growing very well. I will really appreciate this mix when our summer rainy season starts next month ( I hope), we are in the worst drought right now, :o( I will be able to leave them outside without worrying about it getting too much water as this mix is so "fast draining". Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:01PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

As luck would have it when I searched net for "sedum drainage" this was first thing that came up!

Got another Sedum for deck since deer have destroyed 2 planted in ground so I'm just about to pot it up from nursery container.

Very glad I looked since I was going to use a very deep pot and Al's advice to keep it on the shallow side was key information for me.

Between bulb planting and potting perennials (that critters have eaten in garden) for deck I have to check the web and/or forums for each plant to check out what's the best way to pot it up.

Have to get a couple of the ingredients listed but at least this one will be in pot heaven.

Thanks, Al.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 3:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You're welcome, NiNJ, but I think you misunderstood the part about shallow containers. They're more difficult to grow in because a container combined with any soil that supports perched water will have a higher % of perched water than another container (same soil) that is taller. For that reason, the soil you use in a shallow container should be coarser than the soil in a taller container.

Case in point: A soil that supports a 3" PWT in a 3" deep container will have 100% of the soil volume saturated, while the same soil in a 6" deep container will have only 50% of the soil volume saturated.

Good luck!!!


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 3:53PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

Thanks for clarification, Al. I didn't have a suitable pot or all ingredients for container mix when I posted so I haven't done the deed as of yet.

I'm waiting to hear if Agway has in stock or will order Turface MVP for me. I haven't seen Schultz soil conditioner in stores or nurseries around here so I might as well order the Turface.

They can get 50 lb. bags for which I have a number of uses considering all the containers I plant and the clay soil in gardens. I know amending ground clay soil with organic material is a multi-year process (which I started last Fall) but need to loosen up that soil sooner than later and will add Turface to that regimen. I'm not complying with strict amending tenets but doing what I can.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 5:39AM
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One thing I noticed in all this sedum talk is no talk about the different varieties of sedum.This August I bought about 8 different varieties--names of which I can't find on the Internet. Some of my older sedum will almost grow on concrete, exageration, and some of the new ones have almost died on me.(I know now its the soil--too much!) Only two var. seem to be flourishing. I'm looking to repot them and the mix sounds great but we have only the BIG Box Garden Centers here in the burbs of Atlanta and they've told me you can't buy Vermiculite or Pearlite anymore b/c of bombs. (That's ammonium nitrate, right?)Turface, no one has heard of. Anyway back to the plants I bought, I don't think some of them are winter hardy, where the others I've had for sometime seem to multiply underground or in containers and come back 4 fold in the spring. I think two of the new plants are succulents, mislabeled. Winter is fast moving in.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 2:32PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As far as I know, and after just having bought 8 cu ft of perlite for next year, vermiculite & perlite are still readily available and not a controlled substance. ;o) Neither have anything to do with ammonium nitrate (a compound used in various fertilizer applications).

I have several varieties of sedum growing on rocks & wood slabs with only a few particles of soil. It's amazing how markedly this type of treatment dwarfs them.

It may take a little sleuthing and determination to come up with the ingredients to this soil, but they are out there and available (or a reasonable substitute) to those who invest the time & effort.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 5:04PM
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Well i need to figure out if that works in a tiny container.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:35PM
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