What's In This Article
Inside: Deciding what the best potting soil for houseplants shouldn’t be decided by what a plant YouTuber says. Finding the best potting soil for houseplants is easy. Learn how to pick the best potting soil for your plant’s needs.
Deciding on what type of soil is best to grow your plants, shouldn’t be decided upon at a whim. Just because some houseplant YouTuber says XYZ is his or her favorite, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work well for your plant.
For months I’ve been using my own mix of soil that included Black Gold Orchid Mix, Miracle-Gro orchid bark, perlite, and worm castings. I thought this was the best quick-draining soil for my plants because a plant YouTuber I watch used that mixture.
If someone on YouTube says it’s great, then it’s great, right?
Well, not always.
You see, everyone’s living conditions are different, and each plant is different. You can have 2 of the exact same plants, and one may thrive and one will make you want to pull your hair out because nothing you do is ever right. Heck, if you look at it sideways, it may drop a leaf or two.
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Before purchasing and testing out a new soil for me, FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil, I read a lot of reviews. Although it was fairly expensive, I just needed to try it. Let me just say this, my plants are kicking butt. They’re giving me more growth and the leaves are growing thicker and healthier than before.
FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is my holy grail potting soil.
I had a peace lily that I almost threw out, but decided to see if this particular soil mix would help her and you know what? I’m happy I didn’t toss her out because she’s starting to grow beautiful new leaves.
So what’s the best soil for you and your plants?
That’s something you’re going to have to test out for yourself.
How to pick the best potting soil for houseplants
Before you can pick the best potting soil for houseplants, you’ll need to understand some of the components that make up excellent potting soil.
All potting soils are not created equal. There is no shame in not being able to afford “designer-potting soil”. If all you can afford is cheap soil from a discount store, believe me, your plants are still going to love you, and they’re still going to grow.
Here’s the thing. You can always add organic additives to your soil, such as crushed eggshells, locally sourced manure (I’m not talking about the dog poop your neighbors Shitzu left on your lawn, but you never know; that may work great).
If you have a fish tank, you can use the fish water during your cleanings to water your plants. If your fish are sick with ICK or some other funky fish disease, I’d hold off on that until the tank is back to par.
As mentioned above my go-to soil was Black Gold Orchid Mix. Now, the YouTuber I watched lives in a much drier climate than I do and that may be why it worked for her, but for me, it left my plants struggling.
This is why it’s important to test out your soil with your plants. I wouldn’t change every plant’s soil, but do it one at a time and take down notes. You’ll be surprised how one plant does well with one soil and one does well with another.
Now, this is not to say, you’re going to need to buy several types of potting soil, but by making your own with the ingredients you have on hand or even combining 2 different soils, you’ll find your potting soil peace, and your plants will love you for it.
Different strokes for different plants
Like humans, house plants have different needs. Some houseplants like acidic soil, while others aren’t very picky.
The best thing you can do for your houseplants is to research what types of soil they like and choose your plants based on what you have readily available.
Not to knock other bloggers or others offering information regarding what type of soil your plant needs, when doing your research for your particular plant, you’re going to want to do a few things.
- Make sure the information you’re receiving is from a reputable organization or someone who has a degree in environmental science or botany. Summer Rayne Oakes, from Homestead Brooklyn, is a walking plant encyclopedia. She’s one of the people I would recommend you checking her out to learn more about houseplants.
- Use a plant identifier app. There are plenty to choose from in both Android and iPhone app stores. you can find a lot of truly valuable information within plant apps.
The image below is from my PictureThis account. Available in Google Play and the App Store
By using a plant identifier app, you can find out quickly what type of soil is best for your houseplant. What’s wonderful about using these apps, is you always have access to your plant’s requirements at the tip of your fingers.
What makes good potting soil?
The most important attribute you can find is soil with a neutral pH level between 6.8 of 7.0 is considered most acidic and 14 is mostly alkaline. Most common houseplants will flourish in a neutral pH.
Most general potting soil mixes contain some of the following but are not limited to, peat or sphagnum moss, perlite, vermiculite, loam, and a slow-releasing fertilizer.
FarmFox Ocean Forest potting mix contains sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish emulsion, and crab meal. Mind you, this soil doesn’t contain perlite or other additives that will enhance the drainage of the soil. You can always add additional additives such as sand, perlite, vermiculite, or anything else you like to use.
If you’re wondering if it smells, due to the amount of organic poop, it doesn’t smell at all.
Just to make it clear, there is not one potting soil that’s better than the next.
According to Texas A&M University, good potting soil should have enough nutrients and minerals, such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, and well as trace nutrients such as boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
In your quest of finding the best potting soil for your houseplants, one of the things I would recommend is to test different soils to see which ones give your plants the most nutrients. You don’t have to get all scientific with your tracking.
It’s simple enough to just keep track of what potting soil you’re using and how your plant reacts to it.
Just like the nutrition labels that are on the foods we eat, the ingredient list in potting soil is something you’ll want to start paying attention to.
Your Golden Pothos may grow well in one type of potting soil, but your Dracaena may need something slightly more acidic, which the potting soil you’re currently using is lacking.
Unfortunately, there is no best potting soil for every houseplant in your collection. If you decide to test out other soils, test it on a few plants at a time. The best time to do this would be when you’re moving your plant to a larger pot, or if you see your plant struggling.
You never know, the leaves your plant was dropping may not be caused by you looking at it the wrong way. It could just be the soil.
What have your experiences been when selecting potting soil for your houseplants? Share with a comment.