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  • Potting Soil Benefits

    1 posts, 1 voices, 725 views, started Apr 25, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, April 25, 2010 by Denise Richardson

    • Diamond

      Use potting soil to save time when providing suitable soil for different kinds of plants.

      •Organic matter retains moisture and improves drainage.
      •Soil provides weight and minerals.
      •Ferns require more moisture retention.
      •More porous soil is better suited to succulents, including cactus.
      Soil straight from the garden may be too densely compacted for use in container plantings, especially houseplants, with little room for air or water. Soil-less potting mixes contain no dirt, but may include peat moss, vermiculite or perlite and offer the added advantage of low disease risk for plants. Their lightweight property may cause difficulties with smaller containers in windy areas.

      Potting soil components

      While there are no standards for content, packaged potting soil mix has typical components:

      •Dirt or mud.
      •Organic matter – like peat moss, compost, worm castings, ground bark.
      •Vermiculite – silicate material for air space and drainage.
      •Perlite – volcanic material, lightweight provision for air and drainage.
      •Fertilizer – typically slow release for extended benefit.
      To create a general use, economical potting soil combine:

      •EITHER 3 parts ground bark with 2 parts potting soil and 1 part perlite,
      •OR 2 parts peat moss with 1 part potting soil and 1 part perlite.
      Combine 2 parts peat moss to 1 part potting soil and 1 part vermiculite to make potting soil for ferns.

      Compost, rich in organic matter, can successfully be used for potting soil. Adding material to increase it porosity may be necessary. Materials used to create beneficial air pockets in potting soil include:

      Due to its fluoride content, avoid perlite in soil for peace lilies and spider plants.


      In general roots should occupy 75% of the container soil. Potting soil must balance moisture retention between watering or rains and sufficient drainage to keep roots from submersion in standing water.

      When adding potting soil, do not tamp down around the plant as this reduces air capacity and drainage capability. Monitor plants and add another inch of soil when needed. Replenish the top two inches of soil each spring. Remove any mulch before applying replenishing soil.

      Be sure packaged potting soil is sterilized – meaning no weeds or insects.

      Have soil that needs to be sterilized? Here’s a simple method to assure clean soil. Place soil in a shallow pan with a raw potato in the center. Bake in the oven until the potato is thoroughly cooked.

      How much to buy?

      •Typically sold in dry quart or cubic foot amounts.
      •One cubic foot, nearly 26 dry quarts, will fill 2 to 3 one-gallon containers.
      Uses beyond houseplants:

      •Window boxes.
      •Outdoor container plantings for flowers or vegetables.
      •Work into soil for flowerbeds or garden vegetables that prefer lighter soil.
      Using potting soil for versatile container plantings

      If it can hold enough soil and provide drainage when over watered, it can become a planting container. Planting in containers offers the opportunity to create ideal conditions for plants that may not be regional natives or to maintain a themed indoor or outdoor décor with plant groupings and accents.

      •Carefully select soil to address moisture and drainage needs.
      •Stone mulch at the surface and at the bottom of the container for optimum drainage prevent over saturation with standing water.
      •Be sure to maintain these conditions even after the plants are established.
      •Besides decorative foliage and flowering plants, favorite fruits and vegetables successfully grow in containers.
      •Containers can be rearranged or moved to provide a home or garden with flexibility in use and appearance.

  • Caring For Nature Indoors View Group »

    sharing proper care tips for growing houseplants.