Gardening is a gratifying activity. Whether you do it as a hobby or a job, it will give you immense pleasure.
While growing crops is rewarding, it can be pretty complicated as it involves a number of components and steps that can be difficult to remember.
From choosing the right soil mix to deciding the frequency of watering, there are many things that a gardener needs to consider while growing produce.
But out of all the tasks that gardening entails, choosing the ideal soil combination for your planting needs can be the most overwhelming, thanks to the many varieties available on the market.
Although selecting a ground mix can sometimes be confusing for experts, it is always a tall order for novices everywhere. Plants can have quite elaborate soil needs, which, more often than not, can be fulfilled by the ground in urban areas.
For thriving produce, growers need to supply roots with nutritious soils; otherwise, the plants will not have optimal growth.
When it comes to urban gardens and container gardening, people generally like to buy ready-made potting soil from the market. While it is a convenient way to provide the best possible soil for your plants, it can be puzzling as there is a plethora of soil options on the market.
Out of the endless options, selecting the best potting soil for indoor plants is not easy, especially for a beginner.
Choosing the right kind of potting soil primarily depends on two factors; one is the requirements of the crop you wish to grow, and the second is your personal preference.
Many gardeners like to use organic potting soil for vegetables, but some may not. So, personal choice plays a significant role during soil selection. With that said, some soils are generally well-received among gardeners.
For someone who doesn’t have enough know-how about potting soils, those options can work well.
To fill you in on the commonly used soils and the best potting soil brands, we have rounded up five products to help you pick out the one that matches your needs. Read on to learn about the top quality soils on the gardening market.
Best Best Potting Soil for 2020 Reviews & Recommendations
Best overall – GROW!T Perlite Soil Aeration Volcanic Rock
The Grow-it super coarse perlite soil is an excellent soil mix option for container gardening, especially for plants that prefer well-drained soils that don’t retain a lot of water.
It contains premium quality perlite that is a natural volcanic rock formed from volcanic obsidian under the right conditions. Since perlite is hugely beneficial for potted plants, this Grow-it product is naturally an excellent option for your container garden.
It’s light and porous, allowing air pockets to form near the roots. The particles in the Grow-it super coarse perlite soil are expanded and have many tiny cavities on the surface, which hold nutrients and moisture for plants.
This sterile soil solution is probably the best potting soil for your container garden if you like to grow leafy greens.
Root crops such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, generally, do not respond well to perlite, so if you wish to grow those, you might want to look into other potting soils options.
Although naturally, perlite has a slightly higher pH than neutral, this coarse perlite solution doesn’t. The Grow-it perlite soil has a neutral pH, which makes it a good potting soil for many indoor plants.
If you do not have enough knowledge about potting soils, this product can be a great starting point for you. You can use it to grow your herbs and leafy greens with minimal hassle.
It is also ideal for breaking clumped up clays and drain soils. So, you can use the Grow-it sterile coarse perlite for the propagation of seedlings, container growing, or general soil conditioning; it will work well for all your garden needs.
- Size: 100 Liters
- Ingredients: Perlite
- Best for: Succulents, herbs, and perennials
- Organic: No
Runner up – Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix
The Burpee premium potting mix can be named the best potting soil for vegetables, thanks to all its organic ingredients.
It is perfect for container gardening as it provides slow-release plant food to crops for a significant while. It is also excellent at retaining water, which makes this planting mixture ideal for water-loving crops.
This Burpee premium potting mix offers instant sustenance to plants alongside a constant supply of water. For organic growers, this stuff is truly magical.
Many customers find this product on the pricier side. With that said, they also believe that although the cost is a little high, it is justified as the product delivers instantly and unfailingly.
Many slow-release planting media last a while, but the Burpee premium potting mix lasts up to three months. That is, it will provide nourishment to your indoor crops for three whole months.
If you are a hardcore organic grower and wish to grow water-loving plants with minimal hassle, then the Burpee premium potting mix is for you.
It will allow you to catch your breath and not run to your garden after every little while to water your crops. The superior water holding capacity of this Burpee product will keep your plants hydrated even when you forget.
Grow all kinds of juicy tomatoes and cucumbers using the exceptional Burpee product in your home garden.
- Size: 8 quart
- Ingredients: Coconut coir
- Best for: Tropical or foliage plants
- Organic: Yes
Alternative – Roots Organics Fiber-Based Potting Soil
The Roots Organics fiber-based potting soil is an exceptionally good planting medium for containerized gardening.
It comes with the richness of natural plant food that promotes healthy plant growth and yields better produce. The high organic content in this product makes it the best organic potting soil for eco-conscious growers.
It is formulated with high-quality coco-fiber that is an excellent planting medium. But that is not the only ingredient that makes this product so good for your hungry plants. The Roots Organics hydroponic gardening fiber-based potting soil is blended with rich organic ingredients, which makes it wholesome plant food.
The finest quality bat guano, fishbone meal, earthworm castings, green sand, feather meal, glacial rock dust, humic acid, mycorrhizae, soybean meal, and many more naturally occurring elements used in this product make it a premium organic potting solution.
It works well with all kinds of plants, thanks to its organic elements and the added perlite and pumice combination. The comprehensive mixture of ingredients in the Roots Organics fiber-based potting soil make it suitable for a wide variety of plants.
Although this product offers a complete gardening solution by combining both mineral and organic elements, it could fall short compared to products that are exclusively organic or mineral.
That is, products that primarily focus on one aspect of planting solution such as enhanced drainage or natural nourishment tend to be better at the job than products that offer multiple benefits.
The Roots Organics fiber-based potting soil comes in a ready-to-use camouflage print back, so all you need to do is poke holes at the bottom, cut off the top, and plant.
For an all-in-one container gardening solution, the Roots Organics fiber-based potting soil is the best choice.
It will give your crops everything they need in a bag. It’s a convenient option for those who don’t prefer to use multiple products for their planting needs.
- Size: 0.75 cubic feet
- Ingredient: Coco fiber
- Best for: Succulents, herbs, and perennials (most plants)
- Organic: Yes
Alternative – Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil Mix
The Fox Farm Happy Frog organic potting soil mix is an excellent option for container gardeners to optimize the health of their crops.
It comes loaded with organic matter that is broken down by the soil microbes present in the mix. That means this product ensures that your plants get all the nutrients in a soluble form.
In other words, the microbes and microorganisms present in this Fox Farm mix do much of the processing of plant food and provide easily transportable nutrients to plants. As a result, your crops get all the necessary nourishment without having to work for it.
The Fox Farm organic potting soil mix is ideal for people who want to feed their plants premium quality organic matter. It promotes healthy growth in crops, giving you hearty produce. It is also light and well-aerated, which means your crops will get plenty of oxygen and nutrients.
This Fox Farm organic potting soil mix may not be the best choice for plants that need continuous moisture.
Water-loving plants that thrive in soils that have high water retention capacity may not do well in this growing medium as it doesn’t have exceptional water holding capacity.
The Fox Farm Happy Frog organic potting soil mix comes with a set of gloves to keep your hands dirt-free. It is also ready to use planting mix; all you need to do is take it out of the bag and plant.
This product is a supremely user-friendly choice for urban gardeners.
For plump fruits and vegetables, the Fox Farm potting soil mix is a well-suited option. Your plants will get good quality guaranteed nourishment, which will yield healthy planting outcomes.
Plus, it’s easy to use, which makes it ideal for novice gardeners or those who do not have much time on their hands.
- Size: 51.4 Quart
- Ingredients: mycorrhizae and humic acid
- Best for: Vegetables and Fruits
- Organic: Yes
Alternative – Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
Miracle-Gro control potting mix is manufactured by one of the best potting soil brands of the gardening industry; so naturally, this product is fraught with benefits.
Its mineral base makes it super healthy and beneficial for plant health. It grows plants twice as big as unfed plants. The potting mix absorbs 33% more water than a basic potting soil, which means your plants stay hydrated for longer durations.
The high water absorption capacity of this product gives you the margin to miss out on one or two watering sessions because it will provide the necessary moisture to your crops. Moreover, it feeds plants for up to six months.
Since peat moss has an acid pH level, this product works great for plants that prefer acidic soils such as blueberries and camellias.
Miracle-Go pro is loaded with nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are three of the most vital micronutrients that plants need. So, the crops that are fed this product tend to thrive, thanks to the high content of micronutrients.
One of the most received complaints about this product is the smell. Miracle-Go pro potting mix can sometimes have an unpleasant odor, which can be off-putting for some users.
The Miracle-Go pro-control potting mix protects your plants from over and under-watering. When you forget to water your plants, this potting mix fills the water supply gap, thanks to its exceptionally high water holding capacity.
And if plants are overwatered, the mix will absorb the excess water to save them from the hazards of oversupply.
The Miracle-Go pro-control potting mix is a great option for indoor planting, especially if you wish to grow acid-loving plants such as Azaleas.
It provides a wholesome blend of nutrients to plants, which improves their health and produces high-quality crops.
- Size: 8 quart
- Ingredients: Peat moss, coir and wetting agent
- Best For: Containerized vegetables, fruits and flowers
- Organic: Yes
Frequently Asked Questions about Potting Soil
What exactly is a potting soil?
Potting soil is a collective term given to different kinds of soils used to grow plants in containers and pots.
Each potting soil has a particular constitution and textural characteristics that make it suitable for specific plants. It provides all the necessary ingredients to a plant without the menaces of natural soil, such as pests and weed.
Natural soil found in a garden is not suitable for potted plants. If you use garden dirt or soil for container plants thinking that your lawn plants do so well in the open space with the same ground, you will be disappointed by the results.
Plants grown in an open garden respond differently to garden soil than container plants. The ground in your yard is suited for vegetation in an open space; if it is placed in a confined space, it will not be prolific.
It will not function the same way in a container as it does under the open sky, causing roots to die eventually.
Natural dirt becomes compact inside containers blocking the airways and nutrient passages, which makes nutrient uptake difficult for plants.
Potted plants need soils that are well aerated and drained so that the roots do not have trouble reaching for nutrients. A dense and heavy soil mixture poses a problem for containerized plant roots to push through and draw nutrients.
Therefore, potting soils are used for container gardening as they contain ingredients that are fluffy and allow for sufficient aeration and drainage to take place.
Can topsoil be used for potting soil?
Topsoil and potting soil may often be confused, but the two have little to nothing in common. Potting soil is a mixture of ingredients carefully put together with dirt to hold and provide nourishment to plants.
Although it’s called soil, it doesn’t contain natural or ordinary dirt that has been contaminated. However, potting soil makes an excellent growing medium for container plants.
On the other hand, Topsoil doesn’t make a suitable growing medium for indoor plants because it is scraped from a natural field and may or may not contain all the necessary nourishments needed by plants.
It is primarily natural soil, which means it will become compact and block nutrients and air from reaching plants. Therefore, topsoil needs to be amended in order to become a viable growing ground for crops.
Furthermore, topsoil is also susceptible to weeds and other pests, which make it unsuitable for container plants as they require a sterile environment to grow.
Hence, using topsoil in place of potting soil is not the right choice. And if someone uses it to grow container plants, they will not cultivate healthy produce.
What is the difference between potting soil and potting mix?
Potting soil and potting mix are often used interchangeably; however, this is a misconception since the two are quite different.
For an urban gardener knowing the difference between the two planting media is crucial in order to choose the right option for their crops.
Manufacturers of both gardening media use the two terminologies on their packaging, making it even more difficult for customers to differentiate between the two. As a result, many times, growers end up taking home a potting mix when they should have taken a soil solution and vice versa.
Potting soil and potting mix are both used to grow containerized plants, but the two are different in the sense that one contains soil, and the other doesn’t.
As the name gives away, potting soil contains soil, either partially or wholly. It may be mixed with other soil-less planting solutions or be used in its original form. Potting soil is rich in nutrients as it contains decaying organic matter or natural minerals.
However, it is rather dense, making it a less appropriate option for container gardening as compared to a potting mix.
A potting mix is a soilless planting medium that is carefully crafted to yield better gardening outcomes. It is light and airy; hence, it offers better drainage, nutrient, and moisture supply to plants than potting soil. However, a potting mix is generally more expensive than its soil-based counterpart.
Although a potting mix is better for container gardening, potting soil works for it too. You can use any of the two options for your potted plants and grow your own crops at home without any hassle.
Does potting soil need to be mixed with dirt?
Potting soil is best suited for planters because it allows easy nutrient and moisture uptake for indoor plants.
Potting soil, which is sometimes referred to as a potting mix (although the two are different gardening solutions), is an artificially formulated ingredient mix for maximum plant growth in container gardening.
Since natural dirt or soil doesn’t work well in containers, it cannot be used for planters. The purpose of using potting soils in place of garden soil is the latter’s ability to perform in a confined space.
Therefore, adding dirt to potting soil is not beneficial for indoor plants. Generally, most potting soils come with all the necessary nutrients, and organic matter needed to grow containerized plants, so you don’t need to add anything to it.
With that said, you may find that sometimes gardeners mix natural soil with potting soil, but that only happens in the case of raised beds.
Growers choose to mix natural dirt with potting soil when they are tending to raised beds. But for container gardening, the two soil contenders are never mixed.
When it comes to traditional gardening, nutrient-rich soil makes all the difference to the kind of produce a grower gets to harvest.
If the soil used to grow crops is shoddy, it will not grow healthy crops. Regardless of the type of gardening, soil quality will always have a substantial impact on the crops. With that said, plants grown in open fields have better chances of surviving if the topsoil isn’t good quality.
But container plants will not develop if the soil used is not good-quality because the latter do not have enough ground area to push through to reach and pull the nutrients deep in the earth.
Therefore, container gardeners must choose their potting soils carefully so that their plants can thrive.
A fertile soil solution is a promise of hearty produce. Be sure to get that promise for yourself with our extensive guide on potting soils.