Choosing the best potting soil for indoor plants can be quick and easy when you know how. As you may know, indoor plants are the soft and delicate domesticated cousins of outdoor plants. While outdoor plants can weather harsh soil conditions, the indoor variety need a little more TLC. The main difference is that outdoor soil is thick and heavy and hard to permeate with the soft little roots of your dainty yet graceful indoor buddies. That’s why indoor potting soil was invented, and then perfected.
The Right Conditions
Plants aren’t too picky and will, of course, try their very little best to grow in any medium. However, when given the right conditions then the sky’s the limit.
- Aeration: A fluffy concentration of soil will allow roots to flow freely and then take hold easily while having enough room to breath. However it’s important that the soil also provides enough anchorage to hold the weight of the plant as it grows heftier.
- Irrigation: The soil must strike an impressive balance between draining well and retaining moisture so that it doesn’t become too dry.
- Nutrition: The third condition is that the soil supplies all the nutrients the plant needs at the correct pH level.
Tailor the Soil to Your Plant
Each and every species of plant has different requirements from their soil and this is largely because of its evolutionary heritage. For example a cactus will favour drier soil conditions, not surprising as it spent it’s formative years in deserts and arid landscapes. So I highly recommend you research a thing or two about your leafy pals before you plonk them in a planter.
Basic One-Size-Fits-All Solutions
Large department stores and garden centers will always carry a potting mix that generally works for most plants. If you are short on time and patience then these solutions are adequate. But before you buy, look at the label, usually manufacturers will include a list of plants that go well with their product.
Bespoke Solutions Using Additives
1. Additives for Aeration
Aeration is important for the roots of your loved ones to breath. A poorly thought out clay potting mixture will stifle air intake from the roots and will likely kill your plants quickly. These additives can be used to increase breathing room.
- Bark – Bark is an excellent aerator with someside effects such as reducing water retention. On the other hand it also provides plants with nitrogen and acidity.
- Coconut fiber – These stringy balls of coconut hair create space for the roots to breath. Other forms of coconut such as the peat can improve water retention more than the fiber.
- Perlite – A common ingredient that is derived from volcanic material. With an uncanny ability to aerate and help to fluff up the soil, it is also non-toxic and neutral in its pH balance.
2. Additives for Irrigation
Succulents and Cacti often suffer if there is too much water left in the soil. Swampy conditions will lead to what’s known as ‘wet feet’. To adjust the retention level of your soil, look for these ingredients
- Perlite – Having a dual purpose, perlite can help to increase drainage.
- Vermiculite – a great choice for people who have a tendency to forget to water their plants as it absorbs more water than perlite. However, not a great choice for plants that need a high degree of drainage.
- Sand – as natural as it gets. It’s cheap, readily available and re-usable. On the flip side, it has a complete lack of water retention ability. You may want to use it as an additive to aerate and improve drainage if you notice conditions are getting swampy.
3. Additives for Nutrition
In outdoor situations, the nutrients in soils are continuously being replaced by all the organic life that teams below the surface. However, for indoor plants, you are the designated care-giver. These ingredients are great at providing sustenance to your leafy buddies.
- Ash – this can be softwood ash or hardwood ash with the latter providing more minerals. Whereas softwood ash is a great tool to neutralise a pH imbalance caused by peat moss in your potting mix.
- Pine Bark – Delivered as a mulch, this organic material has many fertilizing benefits and can increase the acidity of your soil as well as adding aluminum to promote growth.
- Peat Moss – This naturally occurring ingredient is made up of decomposing plant material. It provides acid pH levels and retains a lot of water.
- Chemical Fertilizers – As a more economically friendly option, chemical fertilizers do the trick. They come in a concentrate so it is easy to apply a large dose but be wary of this as some plants can only take a small amount of the good life.
So now you’ve thought extensively about the potting soil, it’s time to take it easy and choose a planter. Fortunately Jay Scotts planters are all beautifully crafted with non-toxic and environmentally friendly materials to perfectly complement your plant and new potting soil.