Ask a Question forum→Best potting soil

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Name: DrAshish
Newtown, PA (Zone 6b)
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Drashish
Jun 8, 2020 6:09 AM CST
Hi all,
As I'm learning to grow a green thumb with container potting, I'm reevaluating potting soil. I started with the big yellow bag of miracle grow potting soil. Cheap, it's everywhere and it's got a 3 cu feet bags. But now I'm not sure sure if it's a good soil for most of my plants. All my plants require "well draining soil". What the heck is that? The included fertilizer is one thing that's confusing, when do I fertilize again, is it good fertilizer.. The miracle grow also feels very dense in a closed container after 2-3 weeks, even though they advertise it as well draining. I just bought cactus soil from miracle grow and so I learned a little of the difference of a really good well draining soil but I can't use this for most plants or should I. Can I just toss in a bunch of sand I'm the miracle grow? What is a high quality buy in bulk "well draining soil" for general container planting? DIY is out of the question for me at this stage.
If you fail, try and try again
canada 4b (Zone 8a)
Dirtmechanic
Jun 8, 2020 7:42 AM CST
First, it depends on the plant. As you can imagine, back in antiquity as a plant adapts and succeeds, its biochemical mechanisms become adapted to its environs. Flash foward in time to your plants and they know what they want but cannot tell you and so here you are asking. But you have not told us what plants you have. Generally, filling a pot with potting soil means several things, but control of the primary fertilizers water and oxygen are paramount. The use of open and airy materials like perlite that do not pack hard are components necessary for oxygen. The pot is sealed and therefore air can only enter from the top and the small holes at the bottom, unlike soil which can have gasses enter from the sides. For this primary reason the components of potting soil are made of puffier materials than the fine grain of earthen material. There are as many needs as their are root types. Cactus coming from sandy desert need the mineral where orchids that grow in trees naturally do not. These soil types have names and there are sub forums dedicated to plants that use them. Focus on the plants you have and what needs they have. It will be easier to search the soil types by plant type.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Jun 8, 2020 10:05 AM CST
I think you may be focused on the wrong thing. Most root-related problems for the indoor plant are not caused by the soil quality but by damage done during repotting and subsequent watering problems. The most perfect potting mix will not prevent or solve those problems.

Plants are able to adapt to different potting mixes. That is why professional growers use different potting mixes. If there was a single "best" potting mix they would all use it. The best potting mix for any potted plant is the potting mix it was grown in and the roots have adapted to. You cannot improve on that by replacing it.

Most plants are best left in their plastic nursery pots until they are utterly potbound. At that point, they can be up-potted carefully by leaving the original rootball intact and the roots undisturbed and undamaged. Move it into a pot one size larger and use a potting mix that is porous, peat-based, and similar to the potting mix the nursery used.

Packaged potting mixes are loaded with marketing hype using descriptive terms such as "organic," "moisture-controlled," "well-draining," etc. Look carefully at the label for the ingredients list, almost always hidden in the fine print. It should include peat moss, coir, perlite, and some lime and fertilizer, but nothing else.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jun 8, 2020 10:33 AM CST
I use MIracle Gro products for all my terrestrial container plants. I always have and have never had problems or been unhappy with it. The built in fertilizer is a plus in my mind as I don't have to worry about fertilizing my plants for at least several months. I'm not opposed to additives as general Miracle Gro is sort of a one size fits all. For most of my plants, its great straight but, add perlite for faster draining soil and add peat moss for acid loving plants. Mix in some bark for terrestrial orchids. Never add sand, it washes down and forms a solid water blocking plug at the bottom of the pot.

Don't buy moisture control - its easier to add water then figure out how to take it back out of water-logged soil. Don't put anything at the bottom of the pot. If the drain holes are too big or too numerous, use a single sheet of newspaper (or some screen) to block them. The bottom of a pot is a natural drainage block - adding stones or shards just makes it worse.



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Name: DrAshish
Newtown, PA (Zone 6b)
Don’t worry, be happy 😊
Drashish
Jun 9, 2020 1:01 PM CST
DaisyI said:I use MIracle Gro products for all my terrestrial container plants. I always have and have never had problems or been unhappy with it. The built in fertilizer is a plus in my mind as I don't have to worry about fertilizing my plants for at least several months. I'm not opposed to additives as general Miracle Gro is sort of a one size fits all. For most of my plants, its great straight but, add perlite for faster draining soil and add peat moss for acid loving plants. Mix in some bark for terrestrial orchids. Never add sand, it washes down and forms a solid water blocking plug at the bottom of the pot.

Don't buy moisture control - its easier to add water then figure out how to take it back out of water-logged soil. Don't put anything at the bottom of the pot. If the drain holes are too big or too numerous, use a single sheet of newspaper (or some screen) to block them. The bottom of a pot is a natural drainage block - adding stones or shards just makes it worse.





Thank you for the
Tips. True each plant has its own soil but I'm looking for a general all purpose soil as a beginner gardener. What ratio of perlite should I add to miracle gro if I want to make a "well draining soil."

If you fail, try and try again

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