Potting soil or soil mix is a mixture that supports the growth of various plants, herbs, vegetables, and other kinds of flora to grow in a pot or container. It is usually a blend of peat moss, bark, perlite, compost, sand, loam, etc. The composition of potting soil varies depending on the ingredients used in it. Let’s check out those components before knowing how to make potting soil.
Main Components for DIY Potting Soil
Some of the essential components of planting soil include:
1. Organic Materials
Organic substances are plant and animal-based. These form the primary ingredient of any soil mix. Organic ingredients generally include compost, litter, dried organic waste, manure, coconut husk, peat, animal and plant residue, etc. Also, adding worm casting can benefit the soil and speed up the natural growth of plants.
2. Inorganic Materials
Inorganic matter provides moisture content to the soil, enlarges the soil’s pores, increases aeration and water holding capacity, and improves drainage. Inorganic substances such as vermiculite, perlite, pumice, sand, gravel, etc., can be added to enhance the quality of the potting soil.
The sole purpose of fertilizers as an ingredient in potting soil is to provide it with necessary chemicals that natural methods cannot supply. Adding fertilizers is extremely beneficial while growing edibles as these provide sufficient amounts of nutrients for proper growth.
4. Other Additives
Additives such as coir fiber, perlite, sand, etc., are added to potting mix to balance its chemical composition. Including these additives is also very helpful in maintaining a desired pH level of the soil and retaining moisture to support the growth of plants.
How to Make Potting Soil and Plant Soil Mix Indoor?
There is a very slight difference between potting mix and potting soil. A potting mix is a mixture that does not include soil as its ingredients. Whereas potting soil can be soilless and even soil-based, it might or might not include soil in its composition depending on the requirement.
Potting Soil Mix Ingredients
To make a typical potting soil, you will require the following ingredients:
1. Peat Moss or Coconut Husk
Peat moss is the most suitable component of the potting soil. It forms the layer of the soil that holds the seed for growth. It is also responsible for supplying sufficient moisture to the plant as it can hold humidity in excess. Moreover, peat moss is also responsible for providing an acid medium to the soil, which supports the growth of fruits and vegetables that grow more quickly in acidic mediums. As it forms the first layer of the mixture, it also possesses good water holding capacity, which keeps all nutrients intact despite water flowing through it. In place of peat moss, one can also consider using coconut husks or coir.
Perlite is generally required to enhance the aeration of the soil. Similarly, perlite improves aeration for potting soil and increases the compost’s water-retaining capacity. It also allows good drainage within the soil while letting extra water flow out of the plant. In addition to this, since perlite makes the overall mixture airy and fluffy, it makes it nutrient-rich and creates fine spaces for seedlings to be planted. Similar properties are exhibited by pumice, and so it can be used as a substitute for perlite.
Vermiculite is added to the compost to provide the plants with potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc. As its properties resemble perlite, it is excellent at water retention and increases the compost’s nutrient absorption. It also enhances the compactness and aeration of the soil and improves its quality resulting in healthier plants.
How to Make Potting Soil on Your Own?
- With the help of a trowel, mix up all the ingredients in a tub. You can also use your hands to mix them all.
- Now take small batches of this mixture and pour it into the pots or containers, whichever you prefer.
- Make sure to even out the poured mix in the pots.
- Once done, the potting soil is now ready to plant seeds.
- For the leftover mixture, you can store it for further use.
How to Make Garden Soil Mix for Plants?
Potting mix recipe is the same as that potting soil. The only difference is regarding the components of the mixture. The ingredients included in a potting mix are peat moss or coconut coir, perlite, ground limestone, bone meal, and blood meal. All the ingredients have the same properties as that in planting soil. The perfect potting soil mix ratio for container plants is 4:1 means, 4 parts soil and 1 part compost and for trees, the ratio is 9:1.
Do’s and Don’ts in Potting Soil Mixture
- Make sure that the potting soil is fluffy and airy. This would allow fresh air to flow through the soil and help the roots of the plants to breathe, resulting in excellent and healthy plant growth. In the absence of a sufficient supply of air, your plant may not survive for long and can also have a hard time growing well.
- Always look for the right ingredients to make the soil. You can also opt for market-manufactured potting mixtures. Read the packaging label to be sure of the composition of the mix. This would help you choose the best-suited ingredients for the type of plant that you wish to grow.
- Fertilize your soil at regular intervals. Fertilizing will enrich the potting soil with a lot of nutrients. However, a dose won’t last long as it will easily flow out of the pot along with water. So, it is recommended to fertilize the soil occasionally.
- Do not use garden soil or topsoil as it can form clumps in pots or containers. Thus formed lumps of soil will not just block the plant roots but can also become too dense and hinder the supply of air to the soil. This would ultimately hamper the plant’s growth.
- Do not forget to water the soil frequently. Loose soil has a very low tendency to hold roots. Watering can increase the soil’s holding capacity of roots.
Potting soil is of great use in gardening. However, you can also prepare it at home and grow plants indoors economically and conveniently. The tip is to consider the key ingredients while preparing a soil mix for your garden. As different plants would require different types of soil, you will need to fulfill the plants’ specific needs. Also, remember to sterilize the potting soil regularly for better growth of your plants.