The Ultimate Potting Soil Guide : Lawn Fly

Team McFly Feb 17, 2024
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hands on soil
Table of Contents
  1. "The Ultimate Potting Soil Handbook"
    1. Choosing The Right Potting Soil for Your Plants
    2. Orchid Potting Mix
    3. Bark
    4. Sphagnum Moss
    5. Perlite
    6. Horticultural Charcoal
    7. Succulent and Cactus Potting Mix
    8. Organic Matter
    9. Better Aerated Soil
    10. Coir or Peat Moss
    11. Perlite or Vermiculite
    12. Gravel
    13. Organic Potting Mix
    14. Bio-Blended Compost
    15. Peat Moss
    16. Epsoma
    17. African Violet Potting Mix
    18. Moisture Control Potting Mix

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"The Ultimate Potting Soil Handbook"

Regardless of their skill level, gardeners understand the value of proper potting soil for their plants. Healthy plants are built on potting soil, which gives them the nutrients, drainage, and aeration they need to flourish robustly and vibrantly. Yet choosing the best one can be difficult with so many various kinds of potting soil on the market.

For this reason, we've created "The Ultimate Potting Soil Handbook," a thorough reference covering all varieties of potting soil for plants. This guide covers all the bases, whether you produce vegetables, houseplants, or succulents. We've provided details on many soil elements, including peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, and how they impact plant development.

Our manual also includes information on organic potting soil, which is increasingly well-liked by gardeners who choose to raise plants without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. We define organic potting soil and demonstrate how to create it at home.

We've also included details on how specific types of potting soil, such as cactus soil, orchid mix, and seed-starting soil, differ from the regular potting soil. We also offer advice on selecting the best potting soil for your plants based on aspects like drainage, pH level, and water retention.

Last but not least, our book offers advice on how to use potting soil properly, including how to repot plants, mix various types of potting soil, and steer clear of frequent blunders that could hurt your plants.

"The Ultimate Potting Soil Handbook" is a crucial tool that will assist you in selecting the best potting soil for your plants and achieving gardening success, regardless of your level of gardening experience.

Choosing The Right Potting Soil for Your Plants

Masdevallia Orchid

Orchid Potting Mix

Regarding orchids, the right potting mix makes all the difference. It must allow air circulation and water drainage quickly so your plant thrives. Most mixes include fir bark, perlite, and sometimes peat moss. Some are specially tailored to particular orchid varieties for maximum benefit.


Orchids are unique plants that are epiphytes (plants that grow on another plant or object for support). As such, they require a different growing medium than most houseplants. The ideal potting mix should mimic their natural environment when caring for orchids. To ensure successful root development and airflow in the mix, ensure it includes drainage holes and adequate nutrition.

For optimal orchid care, the potting mix should also contain a secondary material that absorbs water and improves their health. Popular choices for water retention are perlite, peat moss, and coconut husk chips.

Fir bark is an ideal ingredient for orchid potting mix due to its excellent water retention capacity and resistance to rot or compaction. Furthermore, it can be combined with other inorganic materials for additional advantages.

Depending on the needs of your orchids, you can use fine-grade or coarse-grade bark to create your potting mix. Finer bark allows more moisture retention for orchids that require humidity; however, coarse-grade bark dries out faster and isn't recommended if your plants need frequent watering.

bark mulch

It's essential to use the bark of the correct size for your orchids so as not to overpot or damage their roots. Young orchids require bark ground into a finer material, while mature orchids with thick roots should be potted in larger bark chips.

When creating an orchid potting mix, make sure to purchase commercially harvested bark that has been free from pests and diseases. While you can harvest your bark, ensure it has been sterilized using either a sterilizing agent or boiling in water to kill any harmful organisms before use.

Create your orchid potting mix by collecting some woody materials like fir bark. Then, add other items to help the bark absorb water and keep it moist. Osmunda tree fern fiber or redwood bark are two options for adding water retention while reducing compaction.

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum Moss

Experienced orchid keepers often employ sphagnum moss for their potting mix due to its high absorbency and ability to provide consistent moisture to your plant's roots, especially for plants that lack pseudobulbs, such as phalaenopsis orchids.

Sphagnum moss can be grown indoors in containers or directly on the ground, but it should be chosen in a location with plenty of natural wet areas, like next to a pond or other water features. It may also be grown outdoors in a bog garden, but ensure it receives ample bright indirect light since this species is sensitive to high heat temperatures.

If you plan to grow your orchids in sphagnum moss, repot them at least once annually. Doing this helps prevent excess fertilizer salts from damaging roots and leading to rapid root rot.

Repotting an orchid potted in sphagnum moss requires placing the plant in a shallow container with plenty of air for ventilation. Avoid using large pots, as these tend to trap moisture and cause your orchid to become overly dry. If you must use a larger pot, ensure all side holes are open so air can enter and exit freely.

Once your orchid has been repotted, it is wise to provide ample indirect light and water it regularly until it adapts to its new potting mix. Many orchids will thrive in this medium for one or two years before needing another repotted, so you can enjoy your beautiful blossoms without worrying about them dying due to poor care.

Add several handfuls of sphagnum moss to the top of your orchid potting mix. This will expand and fill empty spaces when saturated, helping prevent your orchid from being too tightly potted.

You can add some fine or coarse fir bark for additional nutrient benefits. Alternatively, LECA pellets can also be added for extra supplemental nutrition. See more here...



When growing orchids, the proper potting mix is critical. Not only will this mix provide adequate drainage, but it will also protect them from pests and diseases. Furthermore, it prevents root rot and encourages strong and healthy roots.

Perlite is a lightweight, sterile material that can create an ideal potting mix for orchids. It's easily found at most garden stores and often added to potting soil mixes as its volcanic glass nature provides good drainage.

Mix it with sphagnum moss to create a lightweight, moisture-retentive potting mix. Additionally, you can incorporate coco coir to increase the mixture's air aeration.

Sphagnum moss is often included in orchid potting mixes as it helps aerate the mix, which is essential for your plant's roots to have air circulation and water access. Furthermore, it can smother any insects trying to feed your blooms.

Another excellent aeration-enhancing material is vermiculite, commonly found in most potting soil mixes. This light brown mineral has excellent water and nutrient retention properties.

Vermiculite can be added to your potting soil mixture in small pieces for aeration and increased pore size, essential for orchids.

When selecting a potting mix for your orchids, ensure the roots have plenty of oxygen and drainage. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and death in your plants.

Selecting a lightweight potting mix for your orchids is essential, as heavy mixes can trap heat and dry out the plants, negatively affecting their growth and development.

One simple way to create a potting mix for your orchids is by mixing equal parts of potting soil and perlite. You can do this at home or in a greenhouse; it takes only minutes!

There are a few ways to create your orchid potting mix or purchase it at most garden centers and nurseries. Most of these mixes contain sphagnum moss, bark, and perlite for added stability.

Horticultural Charcoal

Horticultural charcoal is an ideal soil amendment for orchids, as it improves drainage and shields your plant from odors. Furthermore, it balances the medium's pH levels- essential to keeping your plants healthy.

Orchids require a growing medium that drains quickly and allows oxygen to reach their roots. Sphagnum moss and perlite are two excellent choices for creating this potting mix.

However, if you substitute horticultural charcoal for sphagnum moss, be aware that your orchid won't benefit from the extra humidity sphagnum moss provides. This is because horticultural charcoal lacks spongy air pockets like sphagnum moss and thus doesn't retain as much moisture as sphagnum moss.

Sphagnum moss alone will dry and wilt your orchid much quicker than when combined with horticultural charcoal, so it's best to mix both. However, if you only use horticultural charcoal, remember to water them daily in order to prevent overdrying.

Fungi and bacteria can thrive in dry medium, which is especially problematic when cultivating delicate species like phalaenopsis orchids. Charcoal helps prevent these microorganisms from flourishing in your orchid potting mix by keeping the moisture levels high.

Horticultural charcoal also benefits orchid root growth by increasing their absorption of essential nutrients from the medium by binding them and maintaining them in the soil.

Activated bamboo charcoal is often used to create an ideal potting medium for orchids, but it also works great in terrariums and as filter media in aquariums. Plus, activated bamboo charcoal helps prevent salt buildup in the medium itself.

Horticultural charcoal comes in many forms, including chunks, powders, particles, pellets, and pressed cylinders. Whatever form you select to purchase it in, read the packaging carefully so you know exactly what you're getting.


Succulent and Cactus Potting Mix

Succulent and cactus plants require soil that drains well but isn't too sandy. Furthermore, they require a mix of nutrients and minerals for their growth. Avoid overwatering succulents and cacti, as too much moisture can lead to root rot. Instead, for best results, pot them in a container with drainage holes for easier water management.

Organic Matter

Organic matter is an invaluable way to provide nutrients and enhance soil structure for succulents. Furthermore, it helps reduce waste by recycling organic materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Soil organic matter is a fraction of soil that consists of living and dead material in various stages of decomposition. It contains essential elements like organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus for plants and food for soil microorganisms and other organisms that help keep pathogens at bay by providing food sources to these microbes.

This material helps reduce waterlogging and retains moisture better than other kinds of potting mix. It can be made from various materials such as bark, perlite, and gravel.

Manure is another source of organic matter that can benefit succulents and cacti. It improves soil fertility by providing essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that promote plant growth.

Succulents and cacti thrive in soil with reduced salt content and ammonia levels, which could be detrimental. Using aged or composted manure when growing these plants is essential to combat these problems.

Compost is an organic material that decomposes the waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It can be derived from various sources, such as yard trimmings or food scraps.

Succulents and cacti thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. To further sterilize the soil, it should be heated through steam heating or sunlight exposure.

Cactus and succulent soil mixes should have an optimal balance of sand, organic matter, and perlite. Additionally, it should include plenty of nutrient-rich potting soil to provide your plants with maximum nutrition. Check out our post on How to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden.

Better Aerated Soil

It would be best to have the correct soil type for optimal cactus and succulent plant growth. It should be well-drained and contain a high percentage of lightweight aggregates like perlite or vermiculite for adequate watering of your plants. Furthermore, proper aeration helps promote root health.

Soil is composed of both organic and inorganic materials. The more organic matter there is, the greater its water retention capacity; peat moss is often included in potting mixes.

Cactus and succulent growers can benefit from potting mix containing organic and inorganic matter. This combination provides optimal growing conditions for these plants, balancing nutrients and airflow at their roots.

Following these straightforward steps are easy if you want to create your cactus and succulent potting mix.

Before purchasing any cactus and succulent potting mix, be sure to read the label carefully to make sure there is not an excessive amount of peat moss present. A high percentage of peat moss in a soil mix can lead to water retention issues and root rots in your plants.

Cactus and succulent potting soil should be smooth and clear, as this can restrict airflow to the roots. In addition, dense soil tends to pack together too tightly, preventing oxygen from reaching roots and encouraging disease-causing bacteria growth.

Add coarse sand or grit to a cactus and succulent potting soil mix to accelerate drainage and promote airflow to the roots. Chicken grit, perlite, or gravel are all excellent choices for this purpose.

Coir or Peat Moss

Peat moss and coco coir (pronounced coy-yer) make excellent potting mediums for succulents and cacti. Both retain moisture well while allowing roots to breathe - an essential trait in all plants but especially important for succulents, which need to stay hydrated.

Coconut coir's pH level is generally neutral, making it more compatible with a wider variety of plant species than soil mixes containing peat moss, which tends to be acidic. In addition, many soil mixes used for succulents and cacti contain lime as an amendment, which helps regulate their pH level.

Another advantage of coco coir is that it decomposes faster than soil mixes containing peat, reducing environmental impact. Most peat sold in North America comes from Canada, where only a fraction of its annual peatland is harvested.

Due to these reasons, an increasing number of people are opting for coconut coir as an eco-friendly alternative to peat moss. This natural fiber comes from the husks of coconuts removed before the fruit is sold and is fully renewable.

Peat moss is often used in garden soil but is less sustainable than coco coir. Not only does peat require massive amounts of transportation and often cannot be located locally, but the environmental impact also makes it uneconomical.

Succulent and cactus plants thrive best in soil mixtures that have been pH adjusted and contain plenty of inorganic material to balance pH, hold air around roots, and drain properly. These mixtures may also include organic matter to promote healthy growth and absorb essential nutrients.


Perlite or Vermiculite

If you want to improve the drainage in your potting soil, add some perlite. It can be found at hardware stores or garden centers and should make up between one-third and one-half of the mix; if you're watering plants frequently, add more perlite for even aeration.

Perlite is a white, glassy material made from a mined volcanic rock with high water content. It often finds its way into cactus and succulent potting mixes as it helps with soil aeration and drainage.

Perlite can improve soil aeration, often mixed with potting compost to create an airy mix. Not only does it lighten heavy soils, but it also decreases the risk of root rot for cacti and other succulent plants.

Vermiculite is similar to vermiculite, though it's not made from glass. Instead, this naturally occurring aluminum-silicate mineral has been heated and expanded into wormlike shapes. Vermiculite is ideal for aerating potting soil as its neutral pH and better moisture retention than perlite make it an ideal choice.

When purchasing potting soil, you'll typically come across perlite and vermiculite. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly assume these two products are interchangeable.

The key difference is that perlite has more pores than vermiculite, which retains more oxygen for plants' roots to breathe more freely.

Cactus and other succulents, in particular, benefit from good aeration, as they don't thrive in moist soil. To thrive in the wild, they require good drainage and aeration.

Make a homemade potting mix for cacti and succulents by mixing equal parts sand, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. This mixture will drain quickly but retain some moisture so the plants' roots don't dry out.



Gravel is an inorganic mineral that can improve potting soil mixes. It helps with drainage and keeps the soil from getting too wet. Its neutral pH and non-toxic nature make it perfect for gardening projects.

For succulents and cacti, gravel is the ideal potting mix. It allows water to penetrate quickly into the soil, helping prevent overwatering your plants.

You have two options for soil: purchase a bagged mix or make your own at home using sand, peat moss, and perlite. When purchasing any potting soil mix for cacti and succulents, read its label carefully to ensure it meets its requirements.

Cactus and succulent-specific potting soil mixes can be found at most garden centers or online retailers. The ideal ones contain high sand content, which promotes proper drainage for these plants.

Other inorganic materials you can add to your potting soil mix include perlite and pumice. These lightweight minerals will enhance aeration in the soil.

While you can use various inorganic materials to improve your potting soil mix, you can easily make one at home by mixing equal parts sand, peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. Doing so will provide your cacti and succulent plants with optimal aeration.

Many gardeners utilize gravel and gritty soil to increase drainage in their cactus and succulent potting mix. It can be highly effective for these plants, particularly if they prefer dry conditions.

Organic potting soil

Organic Potting Mix

An organic potting mix is a mix of organic and inorganic materials designed to provide optimal aeration, drainage, and nutrients for potted plants. It also helps prevent root rot and other plant problems commonly encountered when grown in garden soil.

Common ingredients in biogas systems include sphagnum peat moss and coir. These organic materials retain 15-30 times their weight in water and decompose slowly.


Bio-Blended Compost

Compost is an essential ingredient in organic potting mixes. It provides structure and water-holding capacity to the mix and contains beneficial microbes that protect seedlings against diseases like damping off and root rot.

Compost also helps convert organic fertilizers into plant-available forms. Compost with good nutrient sources should provide enough nourishment for most seedlings during their first two weeks of growth; however, the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus available to a seedling depends on how quickly soil can be mineralized with organic nitrogen and phosphorus supplements.

Leaf mold, an ingredient often substituted for peat moss in organic potting mixes, is another beneficial source of microbial diversity. Though it takes up to six months for leaf mold to fully develop and provide its benefits, leaf mold can improve the texture and moisture retention in a mix.

Biochar, a common potting-mix additive, is an intensive soil rejuvenator that adds essential trace minerals and natural biology. It offers an effective alternative to manure-based composts, which may be low in EC or salts.

This blend contains bone char (for adding phosphorus and calcium), alfalfa meal, kelp meal, compost, worm castings, azomite, and zeolite--every essential microbial diversity plants need for success. It makes an excellent soil-building tool for all types of soils.

This blend is suitable for various uses, from potting mix to planting and as mulch on garden beds and lawns. It is free from pesticides, GMOs, sewage sludge, and synthetic chemicals.

When in doubt about which organic potting mix to use, a useful test is a 'bioassay' - sow some fast-growing crops in the mix several weeks before using it. Onions, beans, and cress make excellent options for this quick test.

Commercial organic potting mixes can be purchased in large amounts and generally have a more consistent quality than homemade mixes. Furthermore, they save growers time and freight expenses. Some suppliers provide bulk discounts for purchases from groups of growers within an area, or they may be willing to collaborate on creating custom blends.

Peat Moss

Peat moss is the fibrous brown organic matter commonly found in nurseries and garden centers' potting mixes. This ingredient retains water while preventing it from draining away too quickly, making it a key element of most bagged potting mixes.

Watering your garden helps prevent essential nutrients from leaching out of the soil as you water. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can be lost when water seeps into the soil.

Peat moss also helps retain water for longer than regular soil, keeping the soil moist. This encourages plants to root deeper into the ground and grow stronger roots.

Peat moss is a fibrous material that absorbs more water than sandy soil. It can hold up to 20 times its weight in water, meaning peat moss will store moisture for plants while slowly releasing it as needed.

Peat moss stands out among other growing media due to the pores and spaces in its fibers that let air into plant roots. Not only is this oxygen essential for breathing and feeding your plants, but it also helps the moss retain moisture.

Peat moss is often included in a potting mix with other ingredients, like perlite and vermiculite. For optimal results, mix peat moss at approximately 1/3 of its volume with perlite and vermiculite for an improved texture that promotes air-aeration and drainage of soil particles.

Many gardeners utilize peat moss to regulate pH levels for certain plants that prefer acidic soil, such as blueberries and azaleas. However, other plants can benefit from an acidic environment as well.

Be aware that some gardeners have had difficulty maintaining a neutral or alkaline pH when using peat moss as a soil amendment. They may need to add materials like lime to achieve this balance.

Peat moss can be costly and only sometimes renewable, which may hurt the environment. If you are searching for a sustainable alternative to peat moss, try using other plant-based options; coconut coir, made from the outer shell of coconuts, has become popular among gardeners as an affordable yet sustainable substitute.

plant soil


Selecting the ideal potting soil for your plants can make all the difference in their growth and health. Utilizing all-organic potting soil like Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix helps guarantee that your plants get off to a great start!

The soil you use for your plants is essential as it stores essential water, nutrients, and minerals needed to grow. Furthermore, it offers a place for its roots to expand and thrive.

When shopping for a potting mix, look for one with a high percentage of peat moss. This is essential as peat moss helps retain moisture and nutrients, aiding the mix's structure while inhibiting weeds from sprouting.

Other advantages of peat moss in soil include improved aeration and drainage, reduced evaporation, and retained moisture - providing plants protection during hot weather conditions.

It can be especially beneficial if your plant is kept in a container for an extended period. Furthermore, using peat moss combined with another nutrient-rich ingredient like perlite or vermiculite will provide even greater advantages.

Organic potting mixes should be enhanced with Myco-tone (a blend of 11 different mycorrhizae) and fortified with worm castings, promoting strong roots and improved water uptake. These benefits can lead to healthier plants with bigger, brighter blooms!

Fruiting plants requires retaining moisture and nutrients, which can be challenging with an inorganic potting mix. In addition, fruiting plants require adequate soil nutrients to thrive, making these benefits especially important for their success.

Epsoma is a great additive to consider when creating an organic potting mix. It contains magnesium, which is essential for healthy leaf development and root growth, and provides other essential minerals and vitamins your plants will require to flourish.

african violet

African Violet Potting Mix

For growing African violets, you will need a suitable potting mix. Fertilized mixes designed for these plants tend to be slightly acidic and contain all their necessary nutrients.

Most soilless mixtures for African violets consist of sand, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. While these soilless blends are ideal for growing African violets, they must be fertilized weekly for optimal growth.

Choosing the Right Soil

African violets require the perfect soil to thrive and bloom. It should retain water well, drain quickly and create air pockets. Furthermore, it must be easy for plant roots to penetrate and exit the area.

Fortunately, various potting mixes are designed specifically to meet African violet growing requirements. These nutrient and moisture-rich mixtures will ensure your plant gets all the essentials.

Most potting mixes for African violets include soft organic materials like peat moss and coarse, rigid elements to create air pockets. They may also include additives that promote better root development and help your African violet thrive.

Too heavy soil can restrict aeration and cause your African violet to grow slowly, decreasing bloom frequency and making them susceptible to disease and fungus.

Another essential factor to consider is particle size. Soil with smaller particles will retain more water, while soil with larger ones drains faster.

For optimal soil moisture and drainage, we suggest using a potting mix that contains equal parts coarse vermiculite and perlite. The perlite allows water to pass through without clogging pores, preventing excess liquid from seeping into the ground.

Perlite in the soil helps create air pockets and improves aeration, giving your African violet an optimal environment to grow in. Utilizing a potting mix that contains coconut coir and perlite will keep your African violet hydrated and reduce the risk of root rot. In addition, the coconut coir helps maintain ideal humidity levels while the perlite provides drainage.

Coco coir in your soil can also help regulate pH levels and protect acid-loving plants from being over-stressed. Furthermore, it has the potential to control nematodes and other harmful bacteria.

Finally, check the label to see if any fertilizer is included in the mix. Most African violets are hardy and will thrive in a nutrient-rich mix.

Adding Fertilizer

Fertilizing your African violet soil mix is critical to caring for your plant. It promotes healthy roots and allows them to absorb essential nutrients from the soil as they become available. Furthermore, adding fertilizer encourages bigger flowers that bloom more frequently.

When selecting a fertilizer for your African violet, ensure it contains the correct nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio. Opt for a mixture with 14-12-14 N-P-K; this is ideal for standard-sized African violets, while 7-9-5 N-P-K works best on miniature varieties.

It is also essential to select a fertilizer with low impurities. Fertilizers with an excessive concentration of impurities can burn the fine roots of your plant, leading to poor results.

African violets require special fertilizer, or you can use a general-purpose fertilizer that provides all the essential nutrients. It's important to add fertilizer to the potting soil every week or so and then water your plant thoroughly so that the soil stays moist but not overwatered.

African violet potting mix can be purchased in 8-quart containers from most horticultural supply stores and typically contains sand, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. These mixtures tend to be airy and well-draining - the perfect mixture for growing African violets!

Once your plant has established itself, you can start watering it with room-temperature water weekly. Never allow the potting mix to dry out completely, which could lead to root rot or other issues.

Your African violet needs adequate sunlight for photosynthesis in addition to water. Please place it in a spot that receives direct light but isn't in direct contact with windows; this will protect it from sunburn and prevent the leaves from turning brown or discolored.

Your African violet will require frequent watering in the summer months, depending on how hot it is outside. Be sure not to overwater, though!



Repotting African violets is an essential step in their care. It allows you to replenish the soil, ensure your plant's roots remain healthy and provide it with essential nutrients and water so it can thrive.

Repotting African violets at least once a year is recommended. Doing so ensures they have a strong root system and can reach their full potential; plants may suffer from root failure or become stunted without regular repotting.

Different potting mixes exist for African violets, each designed for a specific purpose. You'll surely find the perfect mix that meets your requirements and helps your plants flourish.

A suitable potting mix for African violets should be well-draining and aerated to promote root growth. Furthermore, it should be organic with all essential nutrients to promote strong and healthy plants.

The ideal potting soil for African violets should consist of 50% sphagnum peat moss and 50% perlite or vermiculite. The sphagnum acts as a water retainer to keep your plants hydrated, while the perlite or vermiculite creates air pockets in the soil, promoting airflow around your plant's root system.

The potting mix should be free from bacteria, diseases, and other toxic contaminants for optimal African violet care. This can be achieved by pasteurizing the ingredients and ensuring they have been thoroughly mixed before use.

Another essential ingredient in suitable potting soil for African violets is limestone. This will maintain the pH level of the mix and prevent toxicities from developing.

Use organic potting soil incorporating worm castings and other natural ingredients for optimal results. The ideal mix for African violets should also contain dolomite lime to adjust its pH balance and boost the absorption of essential nutrients.



African violets are delicate plants that require the correct potting mix and container to thrive. Their roots are so fine and delicate that they won't thrive in any suffocating soil, so make sure the mix you use is specifically formulated for these plants.

For optimal African violet cultivation, the ideal potting mix should have a slightly acidic pH and be well-draining. Furthermore, it must be porous and fertile so the plant can grow healthy and strong.

Please create your soil blend from various potting ingredients, or buy one specifically designed for African violets. Commercially available potting mixes usually have high water retention, so you may need to fertilize it weekly for optimal growth.

An ideal African violet potting mix requires equal peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. Peat moss provides organic matter, which helps your Saintpaula absorb essential nutrients for growth.

Perlite is an ultralight material made from volcanically heated glass that is a great plant moisture retainer. Combined with vermiculite, it increases humidity levels to replicate the humid jungle-like conditions your African violet prefers.

A mixture of 40% perlite, 30% coconut coir, 20% vermiculite, and 10% worm castings is ideal for your African violet. It's an easy mix to prepare and provides a good base for adding nutrients or other additives to the soil.

Repotting your African violet begins by cleaning it from its old pot and removing any dead or yellow leaves. Next, cut away a section of the rootball equal to its neck length and place it in a new pot.

Once your pot is full, fill it with fresh potting mix and press down firmly to tuck everything in place. Repeat this process until all the pot has been covered in fresh mix.

If you don't have a new pot, repotting an African violet into a larger, more suitable container is still possible. However, try to steer clear of decorative glazed pots or other containers that don't drain quickly or don't have an effective drainage hole at the bottom.

Moisture control potting mix

Moisture Control Potting Mix

Moisture control potting mix, or water-retentive potting soil, contains hydrogels that absorb excess moisture from your plant's roots. This causes root rot because there isn't enough airflow around them.

Miracle-Gro has the perfect potting mix that contains real moisture control materials like peat. This mix is safe for all plants and will provide up to 6 months of nourishment while protecting them from overwatering or underwatering.

Sphagnum Peat Moss

Sphagnum peat moss is a widely used soil amendment among gardeners due to its lightweight and cost-effective benefits. Not only does it add aeration, but it also retains water in the soil.

Its high water-retentive capacity is also ideal for propagation and seed starting. You can quickly grow healthy roots with the correct combination of air, water, and nutrients.

Sphagnum peat moss can easily be added to the potting mix by adding a small amount to a large container and water for hydration. Let it soak for around 15 minutes, then squeeze in excess moisture.

Sphagnum peat moss can be purchased in bales or bags at most garden centers and some craft stores. It makes an excellent addition to potting soil or as a stand-alone material for gardening projects.

Peat moss, sphagnum moss, is abundant in wetlands and bogs worldwide. Generally harvested from cold water bogs in Canada or other cold-water zones, commercial sphagnum peat moss production also occurs in Ireland, Scotland, and New Zealand.

Sphagnum moss is slow to decompose due to the presence of phenolic compounds that inhibit microbial activity. However, this moss takes years to break down in cold water bogs due to a lack of sunlight and nutrients.

Sphagnum peat moss can be purchased in garden centers throughout the United States and Canada as an excellent additive to potting soils for moisture control and aeration. Both amateur gardeners and professionals use it to create growing media for plants.

Moss can be purchased in two forms: long-fibered moss and milled moss. The former is more natural, ideal for potting soil and other uses; while finely chopped milled moss can be mixed with other potting soils to increase water retention and aeration.

Peat moss can be an invaluable addition to a garden or soil, helping loosen compacted soil, improve aeration and prevent root rot. It's perfect for acid-loving plants such as blueberries and works wonders in clay soils with poor drainage.

However, peat moss is highly acidic and not suitable for all soils. Therefore, you should test your soil's pH before using it; if it falls between 3.5 and 4.5, avoid using peat moss.


Coir is an organic soil additive with numerous beneficial properties, including excellent water retention, aeration, and nutrient retention. Furthermore, coir improves soil structure by creating spaces for growing plants' roots.

Coir can produce potting soil, container gardening, and outdoor potting mixes.

Additionally, it may be added to existing garden soil to enhance drainage and add bulk.

Coconut coir is a natural fibrous material crafted from the husk of mature coconuts. It comes in compressed bricks, ready-to-use bags, and loose form.

Compressed coir bricks are more convenient and less likely to get moldy or break apart than loose coir. However, you must hydrate them before use by mixing six parts water with one part coir brick and leaving it sit for 10 minutes. Then add water until the coir feels moist and is broken into small pieces.

When planting coconut coir into the soil, it should be thoroughly wetted with water to ensure the material remains moist. Otherwise, the coir may become hard and compacted.

Like peat moss, coco coir lightens heavy clay soils and enriches sandy soils by allowing plant roots to grow. Additionally, it helps aerate clay soils, enabling plants to access essential nutrients found within it.

Coco coir is an ideal seed starter, as it helps to retain moisture and prevent peat moss rot. As such, coco coir can be used in potted plants, hanging baskets, container gardens, and hydroponic systems.

Coco coir can be mixed with traditional potting soil as a soil additive, but it should be balanced with fertilizers that provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Furthermore, additional calcium, magnesium, and trace minerals may help maintain the pH level in the soil.

Coconut coir is an ideal soil amendment for gardens and containers, as it naturally prevents weed growth. It absorbs up to 30% more water than peat moss and has excellent air porosity, making it suitable for hydroponic systems that need controlled moisture distribution. Furthermore, coconut coir helps deter fungus gnats and algae growth on top surface soil by inhibiting their breeding.

Wetting Agents

Wetting agents are essential for any gardener, helping water penetrate deeper into the soil. When used correctly, you can save money, energy, and time while encouraging your plants to grow strong and healthy.

When searching for a wetting agent, opt for one with an organic or safe ingredient. This will be ideal for your garden, whether growing vegetables, herbs, or native plants.

Potting mixes often contain water-retaining gels, crystals, or chemicals that absorb and retain moisture until the plant needs it. This helps reduce water consumption throughout the season, especially during summer when temperatures are lower and soils are more susceptible to drying out.

Some potting mixes also contain a special thickener, such as agar (algin), derived from seaweed. This helps the mix blend more effectively when added to seed beds, seedlings, flower beds, or containerized plants for planting.

Food-grade thickener can be purchased at health food stores and mixed with boiling water to form a paste similar to wallpaper paste. Apply the mixture onto the soil in your garden and water it gently.

When selecting a soil wetting agent, opt for one fully Australian Certified Organic (ACO), as this will be safer for your plants and environment. An ACO certification guarantees the product has been made with certified organic materials without any potential hazards to humans or the environment.

Wetting agents can be applied monthly during the growing season and more frequently for drought conditions or dry patches. They're especially useful during an intense drought or when you're having trouble getting your garden to thrive.

Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix includes Coir, a wetting agent that absorbs up to 33% more water than standard potting soil. This specially formulated mix can be used for indoor and outdoor potted plants and grows twice as big as basic potting soil.



Compost is a soil-based growing medium that can be added to the potting mix. It provides essential plant nutrients, microorganisms, and other beneficial elements for plants while improving soil structure and nutrient absorption.

When mixing a potting mix, the amount of compost required varies based on the type of planting and growth stage. For instance, a seed-starting mix may have more perlite and vermiculite than the plant-to-plant blend.

A potting mix may contain sand to add air space and improve drainage. Coarse sand is the best option; too fine of sand will make the mix too dense and difficult for plants to work in.

Some potting mixes include extra nutrients for young plants that need additional support, like cypress or ivy. If your mix contains added nutrition, apply it directly onto the root zone before planting your new garden ornament.

Potting mixes made from peat moss, pine bark, and compost usually include other organic ingredients like perlite and vermiculite for additional root support and to keep plants moist and free from weed seeds and other unwanted materials.

When planting, it is essential to match the potting mix with the planting hole for your plant. Doing this will provide optimal conditions for development and reduce the likelihood of pests, diseases, and other issues affecting it.

Many gardeners and professional growers rely on John Innes composts. These comprise loam, peat, and grit with various plant foods added. As each compost has a different nutrient content, it is important to read the instructions before planting your plant.

Composting typically takes several months but can be expedited by turning the pile regularly. Turning allows oxygen into the compost pile, which in turn aids microbes in breaking down material faster.

Composting for maximum benefits begins by creating a pile of course material, such as wood chips or small twigs, then layering additional materials 2-6 inches thick. Food scraps, manure, and grass clippings can all be added to the mix to balance its carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Water thoroughly after each addition and stir everything thoroughly together.

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Table of Contents
  1. "The Ultimate Potting Soil Handbook"
    1. Choosing The Right Potting Soil for Your Plants
    2. Orchid Potting Mix
    3. Bark
    4. Sphagnum Moss
    5. Perlite
    6. Horticultural Charcoal
    7. Succulent and Cactus Potting Mix
    8. Organic Matter
    9. Better Aerated Soil
    10. Coir or Peat Moss
    11. Perlite or Vermiculite
    12. Gravel
    13. Organic Potting Mix
    14. Bio-Blended Compost
    15. Peat Moss
    16. Epsoma
    17. African Violet Potting Mix
    18. Moisture Control Potting Mix

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