Choosing a Potting Soil

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 9, 2012)

1

Unlike garden soil, potting mix is a mixture of several ingredients, the most common being peat moss, composted plant material, sand, fertilizer, ground limestone, and perlite for drainage. Potting mix is used, as the name implies, for potted plants, and not for gardens. Because it is much lighter than Earth, potting mix lends itself well to potted plant root growth, allowing the roots to travel freely and effortlessly throughout the potting mix.

How do you determine which potting mix to choose for your potted plants? The answer to that question is determined by the type of plants you want to grow. For instance, African violets grow best in potting mix that contains peat moss, whereas cacti thrive best in potting mix that contains the greater portion of sand.

Somewhat confusing to the novice gardener may be the availability of both potting soil and potting mix. There is a difference between the two materials, yet both are used for potted plants in different environments. Read on to discover the difference between potting soil and potting mix:

  • Soil. Potting soil is clearly labeled on the package as potting soil, and may contain some top soil or dirt. Mostly comprised of mulched organic materials such as plant parts, manure, and tree bark, potting soil also contains the proper pH balance for specific planting needs, as well as a healthy dose of dirt. Use potting soil to cover bald spots in your grass and to fill raised flower or garden beds.
  • Mix. Potting mix, on the other hand, contains little or no dirt. Instead, it is a sterile mix of composted material, sand, peat moss, fertilizer, and drainage material such as vermiculite or perlite. Potting mix is very light, allowing for good drainage, superb root growth, and air flow. Use potting mix when planting seeds or root cuttings in container gardens.

Now that you know the difference between potting mix and potting soil, you need to determine which material is best for the plants you want to grow. Visit your local nursery or landscape center and talk with qualified staff to find which plants and flowers grow best in pots and which type of potting material to use. You can even mix the two to create a special environment for outdoor potted plants, such as window boxes or planters.

If you're really enterprising, you can make your own potting soil or potting mix by mixing one part each perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite, or one part soil, one part peat moss, and one part builder's sand.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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What is three more than 5?

2015-12-15 10:02:03

ellya

can Christmas cactus cutting be started with African violet potting soil?


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