The Importance of Potting Soil
You’ve chosen your container and you’re anxious to fill it with colorful blooms – but wait! You aren’t quite ready to plant, and the next step – filling your pot with the best planting medium — is critical to your gardening success.
Say No to Garden Soil
Don’t be tempted to fill your container with regular garden soil. This is a huge mistake. Garden soil works well in the garden, but it’s too heavy for pots. Soon, garden soil becomes hard and compacted and roots suffocate because they have no access to air. There’s also a good chance garden soil has weed seeds, bacteria and pests.
If you’re determined to use garden soil in your containers, create a mixture of one part garden soil, one part coarse builder’s sand or perlite and one part peat moss, or use one-quarter garden soil with three-quarters commercial potting mix.
Most gardeners prefer to plant in a good quality commercial potting mix, which contains no soil at all. Potting mix generally contains some combination of peat moss and finely ground bark, along with either vermiculite or perlite to improve drainage. Commercial mixes are lightweight and created specifically for container growing, and many types contain enough fertilizer to get your plants off to a healthy start.
If you’re planting large containers, you may want to save money by blending your own potting mix. A good basic mix consists of two parts peat moss and two parts perlite or vermiculite. If you like, you can add a small amount of general-purpose dry fertilizer. You can also improve drainage by adding a small amount of clean, coarse sand, which is especially useful if you plan to grow cacti or succulents. Don’t add too much; sand will make your container much heavier
The Myth of Gravel in the Bottom
It’s true that plants require drainage, but if you’ve read that containers need a layer of gravel, pebbles or pot shards, don’t pay attention. This is a myth that can actually harm plants because water doesn’t move easily from fine matter (like potting soil) to coarse, heavy matter (like gravel). As a result, much of the moisture remains in the potting soil and plant roots are more likely to rot. A pot filled with good quality potting soil will provide all the aeration and drainage your plants need.
Covering the Drainage Hole with Plastic Pot Liners
You may find that a small amount of potting soil is lost through the drainage hole every time you water, but this is an easy fix. Just put a small piece of mesh window screen over the hole before you fill the container with potting mix. Or better yet use our affordable Plastic Pot Liners custom made from mold resistant spunbond poly specially formulated to hold dirt in while allowing water to easily drain out. Our pot liners drain faster, while retaining more dirt.