Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Real Men Sow
You can use garden soil to grow potted plants. However, garden soil is not recommended for potted plants in most cases as it can be heavy and compact easily. It can also cause roots to choke or drown if not used with care.
Garden soil should not be used in containers or pots, no matter how tempting it may be. What should you use instead?
What Soil Qualities are Necessary for Plants to Thrive in a Pot?
For plants to thrive in pots, it is important that they have the right soil conditions and would need the following:
- Good drainage – Water must flow freely through the soil. Your plants’ roots will die if your soil becomes too wet or pools of water are present.
- Good moisture control – Your soil must also retain moisture to prevent it from drying out. This seems contradictory, I know! Imagine how a sponge that has been wrung out feels. This is how much soil you need to have.
- Oxygen – Your plants’ roots need oxygen to breathe. Because soil is contained in a container, it has a higher chance of compacting and settling because there is no other place for it to go.
- Good nutrients – The right nutrients are essential for your soil to thrive and grow. The N-P-K numbers that you see on the bags at the grocery store are what you know. These letters are for Nitrogen (Phosphorous), Potassium, and K. These are the three most essential nutrients plants require.
What’s Wrong With Garden Soil?
You will notice a difference in soil quality when you pull up soil from your lawn or garden. It is either extremely muddy and soaking, or it’s too dry to even use a shovel. A good potting mix makes the soil less dense than good soil. You will notice how heavy the soil is if you place it in a pot or bucket. Because it is so dense, oxygen can’t flow through it. The roots are not accessible from the sides if oxygen is restricted to a pot.
There may be a lot of weed seeds in garden soil. You can bring all the weed seeds from the soil to the surface and they will germinate. Garden soil can also harbor fungus spores or bugs that can flourish in your container. This could not only harm your plant but also make it difficult to bring your potted plants indoors.
What Should I Use in My Pots Instead of Garden Soil?
Potting Soil To Use
- Peat moss – An organic material, that holds water well like a sponge. It improves soil structure and retains nutrients instead of letting them go.
- Vermiculite<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> – This group of minerals also helps to increase water retention and nutrient absorption. It is extremely light and aids plants in absorbing nutrients like ammonium and potassium.
- Perlite – This is volcanic glass heated up and popped like popcorn. This lightweight material is great for soil aeration.
Mixing Potting Soil
Use a bowl from the kitchen or any measuring device to measure out my ingredients. Combine 4 parts (or bowls) of peat moss with 1 portion of vermiculite and 1 portion of perlite. The mixture is very dry. You must thoroughly moisten the mix in a wheelbarrow and it should not be wetted with water. However, it should be visible and dark. If you squeeze a handful, a few drops should drip out.
If you’re planting flowers, lettuce, or any other crop with shallow roots, use a large pot to do so. You can fill the bottom 1/3 of your pot with something that allows for drainage. Wood chips are easy to find and free. Gravel, leaves, or something similar is also good options for filler.
To make large pots larger, you can also use a small pot upside-down in a large pot. You can fill in the sides with any filler material that you choose. Make sure that the bottom of your pots has drainage holes so water can drain out.
What Kind of Fertilizer Can I Use for My Potted Plants?
Do not purchase synthetic fertilizer. This is the most dangerous thing you can do. You don’t have to buy anything if you absolutely must.
You can use worm castings, which are basically worm poop, and are one of the best fertilizers you can use for your garden. It’s also known as “black gold” by gardeners. Add about 1 cup to the top of each pot, and then mix it with the potting mixture.
You can also add your homemade compost to your potting mixture. A little bit of compost can feed your plants for a whole season, so make sure you have enough! You can make container gardening easier by using worm castings or compost. Mix it up and you’re done!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use garden soil for indoor potted plants?
You should not use garden soil indoors. You can bring disease, fungus, and pest problems to your home by using natural soil. Instead, a potting mix should be used as per the above.
Can you mix potting soil with garden soil?
If you feel that you don’t have enough potting mix, you can add some garden soil to your mix. This is acceptable, but not recommended. Your container will be heavier and more difficult to move. Wood chips, gravel, or leaves are better options for fillers.