Sunday, 24th September 2023

Potting soil

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
26 November 2016   |   12:35 am
Why are your houseplants dying? One of the largest killers of houseplants is low- quality or sub-standard potting media. As with all types of gardening, soil preparation is very important

Why are your houseplants dying? One of the largest killers of houseplants is low- quality or sub-standard potting media. As with all types of gardening, soil preparation is very important to being successful growing plants, more so with container gardening. It’s the foundation; Potting media is a major factor in having healthy plants. Houseplants (and any container-growing plants) depend on quality potting soil to provide nutrients, aeration and proper moisture. Although plants need vary most indoor plant varieties have similar soil requirements. Soil from the garden is not recommended as a potting media. It is usually too heavy and tends to compact inside the small space in a pot.

Also, it may contain weed, seeds, diseases and insect’s pests. Low quality potting media is a major source of problems with containers-grown plants. Plants that are potted in substandard potting soil are weaker, non-productive and require more work to maintain. They are likely to drop leaves, turn yellow and be susceptible to all kinds of diseases and pest problems and generally just die. Select the right potting mix for your plants and they will thrive. Pay attention to your potting media and start off with the best possible soil mix. Though it is not the only factor contributing to healthy plants, it’s the crucial foundation. It is the most difficult factor you can change or control.

Most experts agree that a good potting mix should be light weight and drain well, yet contain enough organic matters to hold moisture and nutrients even through hot, dry weather.
A good potting media should:
Provide support for the growing plant
Provide adequate drainage
Provide adequate nutrients (usually from a fertilizer)

Provide adequate aeration around the roots. Potting soil is an essential element in any garden container. That is because potting soil is different from garden soil. It is lighter and airier, so helps to keep water moving from the top to the bottom and keep plant roots as healthy as possible. Garden soil on the other hand, moves water to the bottom and holds it there, causing root rot. You can purchase quality organic potting mix or make your own, which is more gratifying, plus you will know the exact contents of the soil since you prepared it. It’s the best option, if you are growing plants with specific soil needs. Making your own potting soil might seem like a lot of unnecessary work, but it can improve your plants’ survival.

Also, because these mixes have the optimal amount of nutrients and proper drainage, they reduce the amount of time you spend feeding and caring for your container plants. The best homemade potting soil mixes have three ingredients: a growing medium, something to help retain moisture and nutrients, and something to promote drainage. A good potting mix recipe contains sterile garden loam, sand, peat moss (or coconut coir) and other additives as needed. Each of the following recipes can be mixed in a wheelbarrow or garden cart based on your needs or what is available to you. You can save time and money buying the items in bulk and making large batches to set aside for use at a later date or to share with your gardening friends
Classic Soil-Based Mix
1 part peat moss
1 part compost
1 part sterile garden loam or topsoil
1 part clean builder’s sand or perlite

A handful each of:
Garden lime
Soybean meal
Rock phosphate
Kelp meal

The organic material in the above recipe provides growing medium and structure; the sand will provide drainage. Moisten the ingredients to make mixing easier. Place a ½ inch mesh screen over a garden cart or other large container, and sift all ingredients to remove any large particles. Mix thoroughly.

The handfuls of garden lime, soybean meal, rock phosphate, and kelp meal (any of which can be omitted) provide nutrients that enable this mix to feed plants for a year or two without additional fertilization.

Because potting soil is so important and relatively hard to change that is why it is so good to start off with the best possible mix. Your plants will be happy and ultimately you will end up with fuller healthier houseplants.

In this article