One of the most common questions amongst plant enthusiasts is what type of soil to use. Quality soil nurtures healthy roots, which produce a strong, vibrant plant. We're here to keep you informed and share our favorite soil tip: you can take nearly any potting soil and make it high quality with a few long-lasting amendments!
Whether you're willing to jazz up your next repotting or you simply want to know what to look out for when purchasing commercial potting mix bags, we've got you covered. Explore the variety of soil amendments and their benefits with us below. Your plants will thank you for it!
Amendments serve to benefit your soil in a few key ways, including drainage, aeration, and moisture-retention. Some offer unique nutrients your plant typically won't receive otherwise. Overall, these additions improves the soil structure and better mimics the natural earth that these plants originate from. Their use also extends the longevity of the soil and add to the plant's lifelong health + resilience. Work these amendments into your potting mix, create your own batch to store at home, or build the habit of reading the ingredients on store-bought soil bags.
About 20-30% of your plant's potting soil should contain healthy additives. Check out our list of recommendations below. You can start out with just having 1-2 on hand at home and add to your collection as you go!
Coconut Coir: Promotes Aeration and Moisture Retention
Made from coconut husks, coir enhances soil aeration and water retention. It's an eco-friendly alternative to peat moss, which is currently not sustainable to harvest, and works well in potting mixes for houseplants, promoting optimal root health.
Perlite: Enhances Drainage and Aeration
Perlite is a lightweight volcanic glass that aids in soil aeration and drainage. It prevents soil from being too tightly compacted, promoting healthy root systems and reducing the risk of root rot for indoor plants.
Vermiculite: Retaining Moisture and Aeration
Vermiculite is a mineral that improves water retention in potting soil and offers great balance alongside other drainage-enhancing amendments. It's particularly useful for moisture-loving tropical houseplants, ensuring a consistent water supply without the risk of overwatering.
Worm Castings: Nature's Very Own Fertilizer
Packed with beneficial microorganisms and essential nutrients from the waste of earthworms, castings enhance soil fertility and promote robust plant growth. They're an organic and odor-free way to provide a slow-release fertilizer for your indoor plants.
Activated Charcoal: Filters and Purifies
Activated charcoal, when added to the soil, acts as a natural air purifier. It helps absorb impurities, toxins, and excess moisture, creating a healthier environment for your houseplants. This is especially beneficial in preventing mold growth in the soil, which is common in homes with limited air circulation.
Orchid Bark: Improves Aeration, Drainage, and Soil Structure
Bark is chunky and lightweight, adding texture to the soil that allows water and nutrients to flow easily. Mixing bark into your plant's soil creates air pockets of oxygen that prevent soil from becoming tightly compacted.
Sand: Terrific for Drainage and Soil Structure
Sand offers micro pockets of air to assist with soil drainage for any plant while improving the soil structure for roots to easily grow and spread. Sand is a great amendment to balance out moisture-retaining properties within soil.
MORE SOIL TIPS
- Store your opened soil bags in closed containers to prevent pests and bacteria from entering.
- Repot plants during spring and summer when they have the most energy.
- Check new bags of soil for pests like flying fungus gnats before using it on your plants.
- Local gardens may sell compost that you can add to your soil for even greater plant health.
- If your planter does not have a drainage hole, add 1-2 inches of pebbles to the base. This offers drainage for excess water to flow away from the roots.
Soil quality plays a crucial role in the overall well-being and health of every plant. By incorporating the right soil amendments, you can create an environment that nurtures healthy root systems, optimal nutrient absorption, and vibrant growth. Experiment with these amendments based on your houseplants' specific needs, and watch your indoor oasis flourish.