There are many different varieties of soil, distinguished primarily by the size of their particle matter. There are soils that are sandy, clay, silty, loamy, chalky, and peaty, and soils that are combinations or somewhere in between these categories.
Among the ways soils differ is in how fast water drains through them. Sandy soils are gritty granules of mineral and rock, which water moves through relatively rapidly. Other soils tend to capture and hold the water longer.
This is relevant, because plants thrive when they get sufficient water, but not if they get so much that they’re basically sitting in a pool of collected water. The way different types of soil retain water affects which plants will grow best in which soil, and how frequently and how much they should be watered.
Some plants are best suited to a quick draining soil. These include succulents, cacti, and many herbs.
If you wish to grow such plants, but your soil tends more toward the clay than the sandy, it may be tempting to simply mix in some sand to alter the density. However, when you do this, you might end up not with sandier soil, but with something more like concrete.
The easiest way to obtain quick draining soil is simply to purchase it. There are many commercial bagged soils; you will just need to choose one that’s more toward the sandy than the clay end of the spectrum.
But if you prefer to create your own quick draining soil, you can do so by the following steps:
1. Start with dry garden soil or potting soil, and a small bag of dry compost (always wear gloves when handling compost), and mix them together well, breaking up clumps and removing seeds, bugs, and foreign objects.
2. All at once add about twice this amount of perlite, and mix this in thoroughly.
3. Gradually add about the same amount of peat moss as perlite, mixing it as you go along.
4. Gradually add about this same amount of vermiculite, mixing it as you go along.
5. Add sand-the more you use, the quicker draining your soil will be-and mix that in thoroughly as well.
6. Shake or stir the mixture, and spread it where you intend to use it.
With this mixture, you should be able to successfully grow plants that prefer a quick-draining soil.
Barbara Fahs, “Gardening Soil Hints.” Garden Guides.
Evelyn J. Hadden, “How Much Water Do Plants Need?” Less Lawn.
Corey M. Mackenzie, “How to Make Well-Drained Soil for House Plants.” eHow.
“What are the Different Types of Soil?” Wise Geek.