If you are a plant lover then you definitely know the struggle of finding that perfect soil mix that makes your green babies thrive. There are many types of soil and not all of them work for all types of plants. It requires extensive research to find the best soil for potted plants. Choosing the best soil from the soil types available around you and then finding the proportion of the mix based on your plant needs becomes tricky.
To save you from the hard work, we have done the entire research for you. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about soil, types, nutrition requirement and the perfect soil for potted plants.
We will guide you on:
1). What is potting soil and why do you need that
2). How soil affects plants
3). Soil Mixes for different plants
4). Soil Less mixture for plants
5). What do plants need to grow and much more.
What is Potting Soil?
When plants are planted directly in ground, they get their nutrition directly from the soil underneath them. There are no issues of water drainage or water retention, as water will keep flowing down into the earth. The roots get more space to grow and are aerated naturally.
However, plants potted in containers or pots need a special soil mix for better growth due to space constraints and drainage issues in pots.
Potting soil or Potting Mixture is a soil mix that is used for growing plants in pots in your garden at home or on the terrace.
Typically, this soil should be a mix of water draining components, moisture-retaining components and nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, etc.
When we talk about soil mix, it generally comprises coco-peat, perlite, compost, and soil like red soil or garden soil. These elements make the potting soil compatible with the plant’s needs allowing them to grow well.
Typically, Red soil is one of the best and most economical soil type for plants to grow but this has a negative impact when used in pots. Red soil tends to retain a lot of water and gets compact. This affects the growth of roots causing them to rot due to the high level of retained water in the soil and as it dries it clogs them due to compactness. This is why for potting plants in containers, a potting mix is used.
What do plants need for better growth?
Plants need a well-aerated, well-drained and balanced soil that is capable of supplying the required nutrients for the growth of plants in containers.
The health and growth of the plants are directly affected by the quality of the soil used for growing them. When plants grow in gardens or land, they get their nutrition from the natural environment and habitat they are growing in. But when we grow plants in pots, nutrition supply depends on the soil mix we use. Therefore, it is crucial for us to choose the right potting mix for plants.
Types of soil for different plant types
We know that we need potting soil for growing plants in containers and pots but this is not it. Different plants have different soil requirements and thus, we need different proportions of the potting mix components for different types of plants. For example, if you grow succulents or cactus in a regular potting mix, they are less likely to survive because they need super aerated soil that does not hold water. Similarly, fruits, vegetables have different soil requirements. Let’s understand the potting soil type based on the plants.
1) Soil for Potted Vegetables, Flowers & fruits
Vegetables, fruits and flowers are heavy feeders. They require a good supply of nutrition, water and air. Hence the potting soil for them should be well-drained, loose and should contain organic food for the plants. When you are looking for a potting mix for vegetables, fruits or flowers, look for these components in the soil mix
1). Cocopeat or Coconut fiber for improved water retention, aeration and decrease the risk of soil fungus and root diseases.
2). Vermiculite or perlite for drainage
3). Organic compost or fertilizer for the supply of nutrition
These three are the essential components of the potting mix for growing vegetables, fruits and flowers. You can also mix a small amount of Neem Cake powder as it is a natural fungicide and pesticide to avoid any fungal disease to the plants.
You can check out our premium 4 in 1 soil less potting mix which contains cocopeat, vermiculite, neem cake and organic fertilizer. We pack them separately so that you get the purest mix for your plants.
2) Soil for Succulents and Cacti (like Aloe Vera, Howarthia, etc)
Succulents and Cacti have different soil requirements and consist of a blend of other materials. Potting soil for succulents should have three components:
1). Coco peat or coconut coir
2). Perlite for better drainage and avoiding compaction.
4). You can also use river sand instead of perlite which is inexpensive and easy to source.
5). Very little organic compost or organic fertilizer
Succulents and cacti like their soil to be dry and which is why cactus soil is prepared differently where the water drains out immediately. Cactus mix also does not requires Neem cake powder as there is no soil which is the major carrier of fungus and pests.
It is also to be noted that you only water your succulents and cacti when the soil is completely dry otherwise you might kill them due to over watering.
3) Soil for Indoor plants
Indoor plants are mostly ornamental plants and demand less when it comes to nutrition. However, they like well-drained soil and thus consist of the following components:
3). A small amount of compost or fertilizer
Indoor plants require attention when it comes to potting them in containers or pots. Unlike other plants, their nutrition requirement is completely dependent on the organic fertilizer in the soil mix and its health depends on the aeration and moisture retention in the soil mix.
How to select the best soil for plant growth
There are certain things that you should keep in mind when you are trying to select soil for your potted plants.
The best soil for potted plants will contain a blend of coconut coir fiber, vermiculite, perlite, organic fertilizer, sand, compost, peat moss and is rich in basic nutrients required by the plants. It should be well aerated, should be able to retain moisture and nutrition well.
Any potting mix which does not contain red soil is known as SOIL LESS POTTING MIXTURE. What makes soil-less mix better for potted plants is the fact that these are free from disease, pests and other contaminants. It is well aerated, retains moisture and nutrition as well.
The best part about the soil-less potting mix is that it is very light weighted which makes it very suitable for home gardening. Soil-less mixture for plants, in fact, helps the plant grow 2X compared to the plants grown in red soil or other soil mixture for house plants. It saves you from the pain of ploughing the soil to keep it aerated as it ensures 90% more air space than soil.
What to check when buying Potting soil mix:
When you are buying potting soil from the market run your hands on the packet to understand the following:
1). The soil should not feel tightly packed and should feel soft
2). It should not feel too damp or too dry
3). Look for ingredients- it should contain vermiculite, peat moss, perlite, etc. These make the soil aerated and ensure moisture retention and no water clogging.
4). It should contain organic fertilizer like compost, manure, etc.
Gardening is a very therapeutic experience and when done correctly, it yields excellent results and satisfaction. We hope that this article helps you to understand more about gardening and how you can ensure to have the best soil for your potted plants.
Comment below if you have any more queries and we will be happy to help you.