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November 26, 2018 2 min read

Let's get down and dirty.

Whoa, not like that. I'm talkin' actual dirt. Potting soil, to be exact!

Have you ever perused the potting soil aisle at your local garden center and turned on your heels to walk straight out the door? Yeah. There are TONS of bagged soil options these days. It can be overwhelming and intimidating. Not to worry, though, because I'm here to spill the beans on what potting soil is and why it's important.

Why Does Potting Soil Matter for My Houseplants?

Glad you asked. You probably already know that plants need light and water. Those two things are certainly necessary for a happy houseplant, but plants also need the nutrients found in potting soil.

So what's in it? Some mixes will include other ingredients, but these are the three that are usually present in most potting soils:

  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Perlite or vermiculite
  • Composted tree fragments

The Importance of Aeration and Fresh Nutrients

Here's the thing: over time, a houseplant's soil will eventually become compacted. When this happens, roots can be suffocated and eventually die off, killing part of the plant's foliage. You see, out in the wild, insects and worms aerate the soil and add fresh nutrients consistently. There are two things we can do to help our indoor plants. 1) Aerate the soil with a chopstick or similar object to prevent the plant from suffering due to compacted soil. Personally, we do this before watering a plant. 2) Re-pot your plants in the spring, at the beginning of the growing season. Repotting simply means replacing a plant's soil with fresh soil. This gives your houseplants a new boost of nutrients.

Mixing Your Own Potting Soil

Information overload, I know. While going the pre-bagged route is just fine, maybe you'd rather just whip up your own batch. The best part? It ain't complicated! Pinky promise. Here's what you need:

  • Sterilized potting soil: Just plain ol' soil (AKA dirt). Make sure you grab a sterilized bag!
  • Peat moss: This is sold at most garden centers.
  • Perlite or vermiculite: You can choose either, as they both help with aerating the soil.
  • Sand: If you are potting succulents or cacti, you'll want some sand to help out with drainage.

You're back at home, bags of ingredients in-hand. What now? Grab a container to use for mixing, and add equal parts of all ingredients. For most houseplants, add the potting soil, peat moss, and perlite/vermiculite. When potting succulents or cacti, add in the sand. Sand encourages even more drainage, which is exactly what your succulents and cacti are lookin' for.

The Potting Soil GREENERIE Uses

Chances are, you're a gal-on-the-go who has places to be and things to do. Sure, you can mix up your own potting soil, but it is A-OK to use the pre-bagged stuff. In fact, that is what we typically do. Over the years we have tried numerous brands. Our favorite? Espoma Organic Potting Mix and Espoma Organic Cactus Mix. We use the potting mix for everything except cacti and succulents.

There you have it. Potting soil is oh-so-important for the health of your beloved houseplants. It helps them grow better, making you look like a certified houseplant pro to your brunch guests. Wink.

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