FloridaGardener.com Get answers to your gardening questions here!Cultural information for hundreds of plants that grow in Florida.   
FloridaGardener.com
Books regarding gardening in Florida you can buy online.
Search FloridaGardener.com for something specific.
Tell Us What You Think
Links to other garden-related sites.

Community
 The Patio
  Gardening Games
  About FG

Growing Tips
  Gardening Tips 
  Grow Veggies 
  Soils and Climate 
  Hardiness Zones  
  Butterfly Gardening  
  Build a Greenhouse
  Garden Critters  

Florida Plants
  Native Plants
  Plant of the Month
 Florida Palms
 Poisonous Plants 

Help
  Privacy Statement
 What You Think of FG


Help Us to Keep Growing!

Member of :

GWAA

The Garden Writers Association

 

Last Update 06/03/08

Mix Your Own Potting Soil

Because most houseplants tend to outgrow their pots and must be moved to larger ones, or their soil becomes worn out, indoor gardeners regularly need new potting soil. The temptation is to step outdoors and dig some topsoil from the garden, but thatís a bad idea. Soil from the garden may be infested with weed seeds,  disease spores, insects, as well as other unwanted substances, and sterilizing it is a nasty chore. More important, in the constricted environment of a pot, ordinary garden soil is likely to become compacted, preventing sufficient air from reaching the plantís roots. Although you can compensate for these problems, the easiest approach is to buy packaged potting soil (which will have been pasteurized) and amend it to your particular needs.

Good potting soil must be absorbent enough to retain moisture but loose enough to allow for good drainage and air circulation; its physical composition is actually far more important than its chemical content. In practical terms, potting soil should contain (1) loam, the equivalent of purified topsoil; (2) peat moss or leaf mold, for roughage and water retention; and (3) sharp sand or perlite (a substance made from volcanic rock), for drainage. Sand from the seashore is no good; not only is it likely to be salty, which is harmful to plants, but each grain is roundedónot "sharp"ófrom all that tumbling in the water and thus will pack too tightly and hinder good drainage.

In theory, packaged potting soil contains all the necessary elements in proper proportions. Many gardeners have found, however, that it tends to be too finely textured and not gritty enough, so they like to add more peat moss and perlite. A good formula for general purposes, in fact, is one-third packaged soil, one-third peat, and one-third perlite. The formula, sometimes referred to as "houseplant thirds," can be adjusted for special situations.

Certain plants demand an entirely different mix. Orchids, for example, require a mix that contains tree bark or some similar porous substance, while cacti thrive on very sandy soil. But the houseplant thirds will do for most other indoor plants, from ficuses to geraniums.

Next Page

 
Home | Bookstore | Search | Feedback | Links | The Patio | The Garden Exchange
Plant of the Month | E-Postcards | Gardening Tips | Soils and Climates | Hardiness Zones
Butterfly Gardening | Build A Greenhouse | Florida Palms | Poisonous Plants | Privacy Statement | Pulling Weeds | Florida Gardens | Extension Offices | Water Conservation | Dr. Nehrling

© Copyright 1999--2002 FloridaGardener.com All Rights Reserved.