Potting mix and potting soils are the media for growing plants in containers. They are specifically formulated to help your plants grow.
In this article, we will know all about potting soil and potting mix. We will see how the potting mix is made, their benefits, and also how they are different from each other.
We will recommend some of the best potting soils and potting mixes in the market for your convenience.
Before we review our selected potting mix from the market, let’s take a quick look at the buying guide.
The Best Potting Soils and Potting Mix to Buy in 2020
Here we have selected some of the best options in potting soil and potting mix for your convenience. Let’s review each option in detail.
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Espoma presents an organic potting mix that is great for all types of plants at home.
The potting mix is great for growing both plants and herbs and gives good results within weeks.
It can be used for both indoor and outdoor plant containers and gives equally satisfying results for both types of plants.
It’s an organic mix so you can’t expect it to be chemically treated in any way. It’s a perfect option for those health enthusiasts who like to grow their food all organic and like to feed your loved ones.
The soil is very light and fluffy. You can feel the lightness by just holding the bag in hand.
And that’s the quality of good potting soil. It should not be too heavy. If it seems too heavy, then that means they are using fillers like sand or in the soil which is not good for the plant at all and also takes up the extra space.
The soil mix comes with plenty of nutrients for the healthy growth and nourishment of your plants. It’s a nutrient-rich mix with balanced nutrients for your potted plants.
The soil is further enhanced with a Myco-toned water saving formula that ensures the growth of roots and increases water uptake of plants.
The mix also improves the water retention of plants and reduces stress.
Overall, it’s a quality blend of ingredients that you need for the plants in pots and so far the best potting mix for both indoor and outdoor plants. You may call it the best potting soil for indoor plants and outdoor plants as well.
If you are looking for a nursery potting mix for vegetables, then consider this option. It is a potting mix specifically designed for vegetables and tomatoes. It is a perfect option for those who have a terrace garden or like to grow their food, both indoor and outdoor.
Jobe’s organic mix comes with valuable nutrients that your soil needs for the vigorous growth of veggies and herbs.
The use of mix prevents nutrient depletion that may cause slow growth and unsatisfying results from your garden.
The fertilizer is pre-measured for giving the right amount of nutrients to your plants. So there is no risk of overdosage or destroying the plants with too many nutrients.
The mix can be used for a range of vegetables including onions, beans, squash, carrot, or cucumber. You can use it for both root vegetables or plant vegetables. The healthy blend of nutrients helps plants grow and resist diseases.
It’s an organic mix and is not chemically treated in any stage of production. The mix is safe for the environment. You can use it comfortably with kids or pets around.
This one is a special soil mix for cactus and other succulent plants.
These plants have specific needs and may not benefit from the regular potting mix. So here is a good option for those who have these succulent plants and want to grow them.
The soil mix for the succulent plant should be able to absorb moisture. One of the common causes of these plants not growing well is too much or too little water. The right balance of water is required for healthy growth.
A potting mix formulated for succulent plants should be able to absorb and drain the water well. It provides the cactus with the drainage they need and a good balance of pH.
The potting mix comes with all the required instructions. It is available in four-quart size.
Overall, it’s the best potting mix option for cactus and succulent plants.
It’s a special orchid mix for plants like cattleyas, phalaenopsis, dendrobiums, paphiopedilums, oncidiums, and all epiphytic orchids. It’s a multi-purpose mix of soil that is designed for these plants and ensures their healthy growth.
The mix is a dynamic combination of western fir bark, hardwood charcoal, and sponge rock that is specifically designed by highly trained orchid growers.
The soil mix is very light and is designed to absorb water well. It provides superior drainage quality to your soil, so that helps in keeping the roots well-nourished with the right balance of water and proper ventilation. The mix comes in a bit chunky form that can be useful for your orchid.
Overall, it’s one of the best potting mixes for orchids. The mix is also reasonably priced. It’s perfect for orchid beginners who have no idea how to transfer pots or take care of nutrients in the soil.
Our last option is a potting mix for almost all sorts of indoor and door plants. It’s more like a general mix with the basic ingredients for the health and growth of your potted plants.
This potting mix is an organic option. It’s a chemical-free mix that does not comprise of any synthetic material. So it’s a healthy option for those plant lovers who want to feed only organic nutrition to their plants.
It’s a very light mix that saves the roots of your plants from getting compact or overburdened with the mix. The light soil allows the full circulation of air and enables the roots to grow beyond them with easy.
One of the common problems of these types of the organic mix is the presence of the microorganism. But this one does not come with any kind of infestation and only provides the best nutrients to your plants.
Overall, it’s one of the best options for those who need a high quality organic potting mix for both indoor and outdoor plants.
Buying Guide of Selecting the Potting Mix
Here are a few things you should consider for selecting a potting mix for your container plants.
Buying organic or regular potting mix is your personal choice. If you are very health conscious and want to grow some vegetables or herbs in containers, then the organic potting mix is something you should consider. It is made of all-natural ingredients and does not contain any synthetic material in any stage of its preparation.
Type of Potting Mix
There are different types of potting mixes. Whether you want to grow a plant in a container or start the plant with seeds, You need special soil mixes. So it boils down to your personal needs.
Type of plant you want to Grow
The potting mix or soil comes in a variety of types. They have different varieties depending on what you want to grow in containers.
Some potting mix is specifically made for the healthy growth of vegetables. Some are best for flowering plants. Then there is a special potting mix for succulent plants.
So it depends on what type of plant you want to grow in containers. Choose the potting mix that is specially formulated for the type of plant you want to grow.
Light and fluffy: The potting mix should be light and fluffy. It should allow plenty of aeration for the health and growth of roots. That’s why we need potting soil.
The normal garden soil is heavy and gets compacted with water. The hard soil does not absorb the water. The plant roots do not get the air and water they need and may not grow as they should. So light and fluffy potting mix keep the plants in containers healthy.
An easy way to know if a potting mix is light and fluffy is to lift the bag. It should be light-weighted. If it is too heavy, that means it has more sand amount and may get compacted with time.
Absorbs Water: Goes without saying, water is life for all those plants. So the potting soil should absorb the water well. Whether you are using the potting mix, potting soil, or soilless mix, it should be able to absorb water well so your plants so they can provide the much-needed water intake to plants.
Retains Water: Not only it should be able to absorb water, but it should also be Water retentive. It is the quality of soil to retain water. Without it, your plants cannot get enough moisture out of the soil.
Nutrient-Rich: The potting mix should have all the nutrients for the healthy growth of plants. The purpose of buying the commercial potting mix is that you want all the content in the right proportion.
Free of insects: A common problem with these potting mix and soil is the presence of the microorganism.
The soil with dirt, perlite, and so other ingredients may bring unwanted insects, pests, mold or fungus along. Getting rid of the microorganism within the soil mix is almost impossible.
So make sure you are buying a reputable brand that ensures no unwanted pests or insects go in the pack.
You may feel tempted to settle on less expensive potting soil or mix. But we will recommend investing in a good and premium quality potting mix.
Cheap potting soil has more sand and garden soil in it, and it may get compacted over time. It may also infest your house with mold and fungus. So make sure you do your research and buy a premium quality potting mix.
What is potting soil?
If you are a plant lover who likes to grow plants but are challenged by the space, then pot plants are the best option for you.
You can grow a lot of plants, herbs, and vegetables in small to big containers quite easily.
Especially, there is a new trend of making terrace gardens that are an excellent idea for growing many plants of flowers and vegetables.
The plants are mostly gowned in different sizes of pots and containers. But the growing medium remains the same. You need soil to grow plants.
Pot soil is a special mix of soil for those who want to grow plants in pots and containers.
It comes in different types. The best part is that it is not any soil but formulated with special nutrients for growing plants and herbs.
It comes with the necessary balance of nutrients that are optimal for plants. Some are even more formulated explicitly for special plants like some are for vegetables or others for flowering plants.
These potting soils are mixed in a specific structure for plants and usually give the best results within weeks.
What does Potting Soil consist of?
The potting soil is specially formulated with different ingredients for the plants.
The main ingredient in any potting soil is mainly peat.
Peat: Peat is the biggest component of the soil mix. It is the natural raw material like the old leaves, and other plants remain that are an excellent source of nutrients. It also has absorbent qualities so absorbs the moisture well.
So, peat is mixed with other ingredients like Coir, lime, bark, sand and fertilizers into a light and homogenous soil that are perfect for growing plants.
The different nutrients are composed to balance the ph level and acidity so that a healthy ecosystem is created for the plants.
What is a soilless mix?
A soilless mix is primarily used as a seed growing soil. It comes with specific benefits for growing the plants right from the seeds.
You may think seeds can be planted in any ordinary soil. Or especially, you can use the soil of your garden for starting seeds.
Why you need a soilless mix in the first place?
The answer is very simple. First, the garden soil may come with certain unwanted elements that you are not aware of.
They may contain bacteria, pests, spores, plant-eating insects, and other organisms that are not very congenial for the healthy growth of plants right from the seed. It may not be able to grow your food with the rate or strength you need.
Another very common problem with garden soil is that it is heavy. After watering it a few times, it may get compacted hard. Such a state of soil cannot grow the seeds well.
The soil needs to be light, so it allows the seeds to sprout and provide the moisture in the right amount.
So that’s where soilless mix becomes essential.
The soilless mix is mainly composed of sphagnum peat moss. It’s a light and inexpensive peat that absorbs the water well and stay light and airy. It drains the water well and still Water retentive.
So a soilless mix allows you to create a mix that is very favorable for starting seeds.
The soilless mix allows you to include other ingredients of choice for better drainage, water retention, or for other reasons. The soilless mix is also free of any disease of plant-eating insects. And they come with a pH level of around 5.8 which is very favorable for starting seeds.
Soilless mix is mainly peat, but you can add other ingredients like Coir, bark, vermiculite, or perlite as per your choice.
What is potting media?
Buying ready to use soil mixes are not a very great option for many home gardeners and plant owners. There is a growing trend to create their potting media at home that is used to grow the plants in containers.
The potting media is the mix that you made at home with several ingredients. So instead of buying a ready to use soil, you actually buy or gather the separate contents and then combine them to make your own potting media for growing plants.
Potting media is fun in many ways. First, it saves the cost of buying ready to use mixes, and then you can experiment with lots of different ingredients and be creative with your mix. Sometimes it may not work well, but then you can use the ingredients with the right proportion and look for them online.
The most common ingredients used in the making of potting media are:
sphagnum peat: It’s the same peat and has a coarse texture. It is not soil like fine texture. It absorbs water well. A common problem relating to peat is that its coarse texture may restrict the water drainage and aeration. It absorbs too much water and is difficult to stay wet.
Sand: the common sand is added to the potting media for improving water drainage and absorption. However, sand is heavy and may take up too much space making your container very heavy.
Perlite: Perlite is expanded volcanic rock that is manufactured after heating. It can be used in the place of sand. It absorbs the water well and provides better air circulation as well. Perlite is expensive as compared to sand, and also it contains few health hazards as well if not treated well.
Vermiculite: Vermiculite is clay belonging to the mica family. It is added to the potting mix as well. It expands when absorbing water and can hold water inside for long. It can be a substitute for perlite and is water retentive.
So, the potting media is a cheap option that you can make at home.
What are the different types of potting mix?
Those plant lovers who want to grow the plants in containers and special pots need a special potting mix for filling up the pots.
You cannot fill the pots and containers with the soil gathered from the garden as it is heavy, and when you water it frequently, it will get compacted.
The soil will not have the air circulation or the water absorption you need for the healthy growth of plants in containers. You need a special potting mix or potting media for filling up the containers.
Potting media is the homemade soil that is a cheap option. You buy or gather certain ingredients and mix them in the right proportion. It’s a long and tiring process. You can easily buy soil mix from the market.
So the potting soil comes in different variations, and if you are new into this world of plants, then you need to learn a little bit about different types of potting soils. Here are a few types of potting mixes.
Organic potting mix
It’s an organic soil that does not contain any synthetic ingredients. All contents in these potting soils are plant-based, and these are perfect for those who want to grow organic food in organic soil. So the mix is specifically helpful for those who want nothing less than organic for their pot plants or vegetables.
Potting Soil for Vegetables
These are soil mixes that are specifically formulated for growing the plants of fruits and vegetables at home in containers. These soils contain ingredients that are helpful in the growth of veggies. They may differ depending on root vegetables or the plant-based vegetables.
Potting soil for Succulent Plants
Succulent plants are different from other plants. They need the right balance of water. So they need the soil with more drainage qualities. Cactus and other desert-plants need water in the right amount.
This mix is for orchids, and it is a sturdy and well-aerated mix that is not easy to break. It contains various combinations and includes coconut husk, peat, peat, vermiculite, or fir barks. It’s more like the natural soil though formulated explicitly for the orchid in containers.
Then there is a general mix some are the usual potting mix that you may use for any plant. Others are for specific plants like African violets, or peat-free soil and for specific plants like tomatoes or onions.
They may differ in price range as well. Some brands are easy to afford; others, especially organic ones, are a bit pricey. It depends on individual needs. You can create your own potting media at home with different ingredients.
How to use a potting mix?
Using a potting mix is not very difficult. It can be used by dummies. Especially ready to use potting mixes leaves little on you. They come with all the instructions about how to use them.
Basically, the potting mix is a medium for growing plants. It keeps your plants erect in place and provide them with all the necessary nutrition for growing plants. It also provides them with the right amount of moisture and allows aeration that is necessary for the healthy growth of plants.
There is also a difference in whether you want to grow plants or start the seeds. There is a special potting mix for seeds, and these are called soilless potting mix.
What is the difference between potting mix and potting soil?
Both potting mix and potting terms are used generally to describe the planting medium in containers. They are used to provide the soil base to plants, and both terms are interchangeably used for this purpose.
However, there is a slight difference when it comes to the potting soil and potting mix.
Potting soil is the basic soil that we use in the plantation at home. It is the special soil that is formulated to be used in pots and containers for the growth of plants, vegetables, herbs, and whatever you want to grow in your home garden.
Potting soil has dirt in it. You may call it not the dirt but the regular soil that we have around. But it is more carefully treated and they mix it with some other ingredients to make it more nutrient-rich, water-absorbing and water-retaining as well. So they provide a very healthy medium for your plants to grow in the containers.
The potting soil provides better aeration to your plant as it does not get compacted after watering. It does not get hard and remain light airy for plants.
Commercial potting soils have all content in optimal quantity so that it is useful for the plants. They may add a certain proportion of other things like perlite, vermiculite, compost and other material for ensuring the growth of plants but the basic medium remains the same that is soil or dirt.
Benefits of Potting Soil
Here are a few benefits of potting soil
Cheap: As the base material in potting soil is the dirt, sand, or basic soil, it is generally very easily affordable and comes at a low price.
Nutrient-Rich: commercially made potting soil is added with much nutrient-rich material that helps your plants grow more rigorously.
Lasts longer: since the base material is natural, so it is more long-lasting and stays useful for long.
Organic: Since its all-natural material so the potting soil can be completely organic.
Cons of Potting Soil
Compacts overtime: Potting soil is the basic garden soil so it may have the capacity of becoming hard with waters with time. The compacted soil fails to provide enough aeration or water supply to the roots.
Heavy: The potting soil is heavy than the potting mix, so like we said it is compacted with time.
Provides less aeration: Again, the heavy and compacted soil does not provide the air circulation plant need.
Not good for Starting Seeds: As it gets compacted over time, so it is not a good option for starting seeds and does not provide good results.
Specifically speaking, when you are talking about the potting mix, it is the soilless mix. This mix has many right materials that are used for container gardening.
But it is a more seed starting mix. It does not include soil but has other content like pine bark, perlite, vermiculite, and much other content without dirt.
So it provides a very good medium for the growth of plants.
Benefits of Potting Mix
Light and fluffy: The potting mix is specifically formulated with the best ingredients for plants. It is light and fluffy and stays that way for long. It is not compacted with time like potting soil.
Great for starting seeds: As it is very light and fluffy and is not compacted with water, it is the best medium for starting seeds. It allows the tiny sprouts to break through the light mix, covering it and grow easily.
Retains water well: The potting mix has ingredients like vermiculite that retains water well, and plants grow well.
The disadvantage of potting mix
Here are a few disadvantages of the potting mix.
Costly: It contains different ingredients that make it more costly.
Breaks down with time: As it is not the natural soil, so it breaks down with time.
Lightweight: it is very lightweight, and you need more heavy containers for them. They can cause a problem in windy locations.
Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions relating to potting mix and potting soil.
What potting soil is used for?
Potting soil is the specially formulated soil that is commercially treated and mix for container plants.
The soil is used as a planting medium in pots and containers for growing different plants, both indoor and outdoor.
The potting soil may come in different types depending on your needs. For example, potting soil for vegetables is different from potting soils for succulent plants like cactus.
Difference Between potting soil and garden soil?
Both garden soil and potting soils are soil, but they have different properties.
Garden soil is heavy, and if you use them in containers for plants, it will get compacted with water and get hard with time.
Garden soil is not favorable for plants in containers.
Potting soil is light and fluffy and is also nutrient-rich. It absorbs water and retains it inside without getting compacted.
What is the difference between compost and potting soil?
Both potting soil and compost are different. Compost is the nutrient-rich soil that is naturally made with lawn clippings, brown byproducts of the tree, microorganism, and oxygen. Compost is added to nutrient-depleted garden soil for plant growth.
The compost is prepared over a long period when you allow the basic ingredients and byproducts to rot over time and turn into fertile soil.
Potting soil is a mixture of different content with soil to make it rich and beneficial for plant growth in containers.
How to use potting soil for containers?
The potting soil that you prepare at home is called potting media. It can be made at home easily if you have all the material ready with you.
Here is the process of making potting media at home.
Add one gallon of garden soil in a container. Make sure you add satirized garden soil. As it is treated to be free of disinfectants and weeds. It may cost much than picking up soil from your garden, but you won’t have to worry about any seasonal weeds or pest contamination with this type of soil.
Add another gallon of sphagnum peat with another gallon of perlite or vermiculite.
Adjust the texture and mix it well. These are ingredients with different textures like sand is soft soil can be sticky. Add sand or clay for adjusting the texture.
Potting soil is the special soil that is commercially formulated for the healthy growth of plants in containers. It is an excellent choice for those who are living in small apartments or don’t have much space for a home garden.
Container gardening is becoming popular due to its benefits. It is gratifying to have a homemade kitchen garden, flowering plants, and other herbs at home.
You can place them in galleries, backyard, terrace, or anywhere conveniently. Potting soil and potting mix are what makes these plants in containers a great success.