Gardening

Best Potting Soils – Reviews & Buying Guide

We are what we eat, isn’t that what they say? If that is true for us, it certainly also is for other living beings too. Speaking of plants, they get their nutrition, moisture, and air from the soil. That is why it is crucial to get the best potting soil for your plants, so they grow healthily and lusciously. If you talk to experienced gardeners, they will tell you that this should be your number one concern.

Some people are indeed better than others in certain activities. It is not valid, however, that we cannot learn new skills and should not even try to cook, gardening, paint or anything we want. With some research, willingness, and guiding – you can comprehend any number of new activities. If you are looking to get into plants and want to do the best for your potted herbs and flowers, we are here for you.

If you are a beginner or experienced gardener, we know you want what’s best for your plants. Therefore, let’s see what to look for to be able to buy the best potting soil for houseplants.


Choosing The Best Potting Soil- 4 Factors To Look For


Airy

While the soil needs to be rich with nutrients and full of vitamins, it should also allow for the roots breathing, growth, and circulation space. When picking up a bag of soil, it should not feel so heavy and dense. When you open it, it should look airy, fluffy, and light – test it by putting your fingers in it. Even after wet, the soil should have some give to it. If, after watering it, the earth feels hard and compressed, your plants will have no room to grow.

Rich With Nutrients

Read the package before buying the soil. Does it only say fertilizer? While that may sound good, it is not ideal at all for your plants. They need so much more to grow and develop. Every plant is a little different, but the three essential nutrients almost every one of them needs are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Most potting soils are slightly acidic and suitable for most plants, and they also come with organic matter for extra nutrition. Minerals such as calcium, sulfur, and magnesium are very valuable and necessary for a healthy environment.

Some plants need different things to grow, like cactus or orchids. It is always a good idea to check for your specific plants to see if they require any special treatment.

Added Fertilizer

While only fertilizer will not make your plant grow, a mix of nutrients, minerals, and added fertilizer will. If you tried to buy soil before, you probably noticed that some come with “starter charge” fertilizer while others have “slow-release” fertilizer.

The former means the earth comes with enough fertilizer to feed your plant through some watering cycles, and you will have to add more of your own later. The latter, however, comes with small plastic balls that release the fertilizer slowly over an extended period.

Organic Or Non-organic

Like with many product types, you have the option to get organic or non-organic potting soil. If you buy reputable brands and follow the instructions and tips we cover on this guide, chances are you will get good results using organic products or not. It all comes to personal choice, so let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each one.

  • Organic soil: it is soil that is free from chemicals, mixed with organic, natural matter. They usually do specific blends for different plant types, so the results are excellent. They vary greatly, but some common ingredients are mushroom compost, manure, animal droppings, and seaweed. Because of all that, they can be more expensive than non-organic ones.
  • Non-organic soil: it is not made from natural ingredients, but generally from peat, bark, and perlite or vermiculite. Since it is a very controlled and manufactured product, it contains none of the contaminants that may come with some unknown organic matters. There are many different kinds of non-organic soil, ranging from all prices and components.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best potting soil brands on the market today, and what they are suitable for. With this comprehensive guide, you will get all the information you need to make sure your plants are well taken care of.

The 15 Best Potting Soils in 2020


1. TinyRoots All Purpose Bonsai Soil


Bonsai Tree Best potting soil

Remember how we said some plants need special treatment and different soil than others? Well, this is an all-organic potting soil used for bonsai plants. Bonsai plants can get very delicate, and they are such a beautiful and expensive plant you don’t want to risk getting the wrong soil for it.

The TinyRoots soil is formulated by professionals and can be used for any bonsai. It comes with a mix of high-grade Japanese Akadama, which is a natural soil that contains clay minerals and is especially used for bonsai trees in Japan.

It also has extra calcinated clay to help keep moisture and a blend of vitamins and minerals with twenty-eight nutrients. This is an excellent soil, and while you could buy the ingredients separately and make your own for cheaper, the convenience and correct proportions this product offers are worth the money.

Some users are concerned that the mix comes with too many wooden chips, so it is worth to check if your plant is happy with that.

Pros:

  • All-organic
  • Natural soil from Japan
  • Great for bonsai
  • Holds water perfectly

Cons:

  • May contain too many wood chips

2. Mosser Lee Black Sand Soil


Mosser Lee Black Sand Soil

Because the best potting soil is fluffy and airy, as we discussed, the top layer may suffer some problems. Mosquitos and other bugs may find that your perfectly warm, airy, and nutrient-rich plant soil is the perfect place for them to lay their eggs.

A fungus may also agree, and ants can try to set camp on your pot. A simple and inexpensive solution for that is to cover your soil with a layer of sand – a more dense element that will protect the soil from external factors without suffocating or damaging the plant.

Mosser Lee Black Sand does precisely that. Additionally, it helps protect and contain moisture, improves water drainage, and can be used to loosen compacted soil. It is also a fantastic choice for decoration-it looks great, and you can make layers of different soil on transparent vases or use it as a top layer for cactus and succulents.

The price is great, the sand is fine and uniform, and it is easy to use. Some users had a problem with the packaging and reported it too thin for the heaviness of the sand. Some people received the bag with holes and lost sand on the process, so that is a point of improvement.

Pros:

  • It works well to get rid of larvae and insects
  • It looks excellent for decoration purposes
  • The price is good

Cons:

  • The bag is not so good, and it can get holes

3. Black Gold 


Black Gold 1302040Black Soil produces some of the best organic potting soil you can get. It is great for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers, both indoors and outdoors. Organic fertilizer, earthworm castings, pumice, and perlite are some of the ingredients that it carries, and they are the base to ensure your plant is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Some people found it strange that this soil came with tiny white balls in it, but that is precisely the perlite. It keeps the dirt loose and helps aerate it, so the roots have space. Another high point from Black Gold is that they change their formula composition based on the region where it is being sold.

This is wonderful since soil, weather, and climate change from place to place. This is a very affordable soil, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it provided with everything the plants needed. Plants all around grew tremendously with the use of Black Gold soil.

Since it is organic soil, some people had problems with spores and gnat growing. That can be the case with the use of natural products. An easy solution for that is to spray the soil with a combination of water and vinegar.

Pros:

  • All-natural soil with all the nutrients needed
  • Perfect price
  • Very airy
  • Their composition is based on local soil

Cons:

  • It can allow for gnat growing

4. Soil Moist Multicolor


Soil Moist Multicolor

Soil Moist is another beloved brand used by many gardeners. This particular product is a game-changer when it comes to watering plants. You mix some of it to your regular soil (how much will depend on the size of the pot and the plant, instructions are clear), and it will help keep your plants watered.

It does that by using mini pods that, when the soil is dry, release water into the soil re-watering your plants. Every time it rains, or you water the plants, it will re-hydrate and start the process again. If you need to go away for vacation, work a lot, or are forgetful, this will revolutionize the way you keep plants.

Even gardeners that don’t travel swear by this product, saying it keeps just the right amount of moisture on the plants. If you are repotting a plant, mix some of the Soil Moist to the soil and use it normally.

If you want to use it on an existing container, poke some holes around the plant with a pencil or anything you have in hand and put the correct amount in them. It is that easy. Some people do not like how the pods are so small, and they probably work better with smaller potted plants rather than big outside ones.

Pros:

  • An excellent product for people who can’t regularly water their plants
  • Reliable brand
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • The pods are tiny, work better for potted plants

5. Espoma Potting Mix


Espoma Potting Mix

This is an all-natural, organic soil mix great for all types of plants. It is enhanced with Myco-tone, which is a blend of eleven different types of mycorrhizae (a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant), proven to promote root growth, boost water intake and lower transplant stress. It is as natural as it can be and does help with plants’ growth.

Using this soil, consumers had visibly better results on sprouting and root growth than using other brands. This is one of the best soil for indoor plants – they sometimes can suffer from lack of sun and rain, but this soil makes up for it nicely. This is a particularly right choice if you need to transplant your plants or flowers from one pot to another. This is a very delicate operation and can quickly go wrong, but chances are you’ll be fine if you use Espoma.

As with all organic soil, there is a small chance you will get fungus or gnat eggs with your purchase. Even with all the quality checking, a small percentage of batches have arrived unusable to the customers. It is also not the cheapest soil as the package is a bit small for the price. If you are willing to invest in it and need something that will help with repotting, this is a great choice.

Pros:

  • All-natural soil
  • Great for repotting
  • It is enhanced with Myco-tone

Cons:

  • Some people found gnat and fungus on their sample
  • It is a little pricey

6. Superfly Bonsai Soil Mix


Superfly Bonsai Soil Mix

Bonsai symbolizes harmony, peace, balance, and all that is good. Each bonsai tree is also believed to represent something different, like luck, prosperity, health, and creativity. They are also incredibly beautiful and overall lovely to look at. Many people take up bonsai growing not just to have plants in the house but as a hobby. Taking care of the bonsai is rewarding in itself, so getting the right soil for it is a big deal.

The Superfly Bonsai Soil Mix comes in a resealable bag and is ready to use. Bonsai roots love to breathe, and this soil gives them plenty of space to do that. It is composed of Japanese Akadama, Japanese Pumice, and USA Black Lava. It is mostly non-organic, made from substrate components, which is what bonsai trees need. It drains and retains the right amount of water, and it is the top choice for many bonsai professionals around the globe.

Beginners are especially pleased with this soil because bonsai trees are not always easy to grow. This product does half of the job, though – it keeps the right amount of water and oxygen necessary for bonsai trees. It is not the cheapest soil around, and it is true you can get products that are less expensive and have bigger packets, but you get what you pay for. In this case, a quality product.

Pros:

  • Ready to use
  • Promotes root breathing
  • Great for water drainage

Cons:

  • The price

7. Espoma Seed Starter


Espoma Seed Starter

Espoma is high on our results for the best potting soil time and time again. This seed starter is designed to help you go from seeds to germination, and it does the job well. Most gardeners believe that, for a soil to be considered optimum, it has to have the right amount of chemical components, physical components, and biological matter. The Espoma Seed Starter brings that to the table, and it is an American product you can be proud to use.

Compared with another seed starter from a top brand on an experiment, the seeds from Espoma took longer to germinate, but when they did, they flourished more and looked stronger. In the end, they are a soil that is light, fluffy, and full of nutrients – the perfect environment for new seeds to develop. For the premium price, it is good that they have high success rates.

Multiple users, however, had problems with indoor plants with this soil. Since it is organic, it tends to develop mold if watered continuously, and if kept on a dark area. With indoor seeds, this is the case many times, so it is frustrating to get mold on your starter pots. Please be advised that this is not always the case, but a possibility that Espoma should take care of.

Pros:

  • A great success rate for starting seeds
  • Very nutritious
  • Fluffy and airy

Cons:

  • Premium price
  • Can get molded in dark and humid areas

8. Burpee Organic Potting Mix


Burpee Organic Potting Mix

Another exceptional organic potting mix, the Burpee Soil, is made with a mixture that includes coconut coir. This is a component that is similar in purpose as peat, an outcome of decomposed plant remains accumulated in waterlogged soils for thousands and thousands of years. Multiple people are worried about the sustainability of this material, as it cannot be renewed and needs a lot of resources to be garnered.

Coconut coir, on the other hand, is a renewable and sustainable product, environmentally friendly, and easy to source. Additionally, it may be even better than peat in terms of keeping an ideal pH, plus it is easier to handle.

We see no disadvantage in getting a coconut coir organic mix if you are one to care for the environment. Burpee Soil also comes with enough plant food to last for up to three months. Another great benefit is that this is one of the few organic brands that come with no bugs or gnat eggs, being one of the best indoor potting soil because of that.

For the amount you get on one bag, this is not cheap, but if you are tired of fungus, larvae, and gnat eggs – this is the soil for you. Be advised that this is a water retention soil, so be careful not to overwater your plants or to leave them outside where they can be exposed to rain.

Pros:

  • It uses coconut coir – a sustainable material
  • It is bug-free
  • It is very effective

Cons:

  • Premium price
  • It can get waterlogged if left on the rain or overwatered

9. Espoma African Violet


Espoma Organic African Violet Potting Mix

This Espoma Potting Mix is an excellent choice for most potted plants or flowers, but it is exceptionally competent in growing African Violets. The African Violets are very common house plants because they bloom beautiful flowers, they grow well on moderate temperatures (like the inside of the houses and offices), and they need dry environments (their leaves can’t get wet).

Since they are so perfect for indoors, you need the best potting soil for indoor plants to care for them. This potting soil promotes proper aeration, retains moisture well, and promotes root growth. It is an all-natural soil with no chemicals or artificial components.

Many users have reported that their African Violets flourished within days of repotting them with the Espoma AF Soil. Depending on your gardening style, this soil can be a bit dense, and some mix it with a little perlite to light it up a bit.

If you only have a few African Violets, don’t worry, this soil will do well with other houseplants too – so don’t let it go to waste. As with all Espoma products, a small percentage of people complained about bugs on the soil, a risk you take with most organic products. It is not recommended to keep this soil for long periods before using it since it can promote fungus growth.

Pros:

  • Great soil for African Violets
  • Visible results within days
  • Good for most indoor houseplants

Cons:

  • Some packets may come with bugs
  • It is too dense for some gardeners

10. Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil


Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil

This premium Fox Farm soil gets its name because it has many ocean-sourced components in it. It is a natural blend of earthworm castings, bat guano, sea-going fish, crab meal, forest humus, and more. Sandy loam and peat moss give it an airy texture, and the natural blends provide nutrition.

It is ready to use out of the bag, and many described their germination rate to be 100% using this soil. This is the richest soil we’ve seen so far, so if you have a couple of plants and are looking for a casual, budget soil, this is not the best indoor potting soil for your needs.

If you are, however, serious about gardening and have a large number of pots, vases, and raised gardens to look after, the Fox Farm Ocean Forest should be on your mind. Like every natural product, there is a chance it will contain bugs or eggs, but with Fox Farm, this probability is minimal.

Pros:

  • Extremely rich in nutrients
  • Land and ocean components
  • Ready to use
  • Natural
  • Minimal chance of bugs

Cons:

  • This is a premium-priced product

11. Miracle-GRO Potting Mix


Miracle-GRO Potting Mix

Anyone with gardening interest has heard of Miracle-gro. It is a very traditional brand, and it can be used as a stand-alone soil or as a mix with other soil you already have. It is an extended-release product and will feed your plants for up to six months after you first use it.

It has all the nutrients needed for most common plants, and – although it can be used for outdoor plants – it is designed to be the best potting soil for indoor plants. The great thing about this soil is that it is cheap. It is the most inexpensive soil you can get that is still great.

If you are a beginner gardener that is still figuring things out, or if you only have a couple of plants to take care of, you don’t want to spend too much on the soil. It is not suited for plants with specific needs, but it is perfect for those who need a simple, reliable potting soil for a fair price.

Pros:

  • Complete soil for most plants’ needs
  • Budget price

Cons:

  • It is not suited for plants with special needs

12. Hoffman Seed Starter Soil


Hoffman Seed Starter Soil

To give your garden a healthy, strong start, you are best using a seed starter soil rather than a normal potting soil. The difference is that, contrary to what many people believe, a seed starter soil needs to have fewer nutrients in a more controlled environment.

The reason for that is that you want the seeds to make all the effort they can to get those nutrients, thus growing strong roots from the start. A starter soil is also extremely loose and airy to give the seeds a lot of growing space.

The Hoffman Seed Starter soil does not disappoint in any of those aspects. Users noticed that seeds growing on this soil had a much higher rate of germination than others growing on regular potting soil. It is fine, clean, and water absorbent, although some people had problems with water retention. Use it for all your seed needs.

Pros:

  • Good for seed starting indoors
  • Very airy and fluffy

Cons:

  • Some people didn’t get enough water retention

13. Root Naturally Soil Moist Granules


Root Naturally Soil Moist Granules

If you are like me, chances are you’ve killed a plant or two by forgetting to water it. If that’s the case, or if you are going away for a few days or generally is not home a lot – this is the product for you. It consists of tiny polymer balls that soak up water and then release it to the soil slowly.

It can reduce the number of times you need to water your plants by 50%. For hot weather, this is a must to keep plants alive. A little goes a long way, so be careful when using it. It is versatile, too, and can be used for craft projects and cricket feeders.

We recommend getting this for starter seeds and small plants. Some people were disappointed they couldn’t see the little balls in their pots and couldn’t be sure they were working – they are more like granules than balls before water absorption.

Pros:

  • Reduce the need for watering by 50%
  • Great for summer and heat

Cons:

  • You can’t see them when you mix with the soil

14. Perfect Plants Bonsai Soil


Perfect Plants Bonsai Soil

This is a Bonsai Soil professionally mixed in the USA. It holds enough water for the roots and drains excess moisture that is not good for bonsai trees. The resealable bag is great for multiple uses since it keeps it dry in between uses.

It is all-natural, nutrients-full, and airy enough for trees. Bonsai soil can be organic and non-organic, and the best type will depend on the kind of tree you have. Bonsai enthusiasts are pleased with this potting soil, and especially with the moisture retention, it offers.

With plants, the wrong soil can mean that you water the plant, and all the water drains so fast that the plant had no time to retain any of it. Alternatively, holding too much water can drown the plant and keep it from breathing. The Perfect Plants soil holds just the right amount of liquid for the right amount of time.

Pros:

  • Good packaging
  • All-natural

Cons:

  • Not good if your bonsai prefers non-organic matter

15. TinyRoots Premium Bonsai Soil


TinyRoots Premium Bonsai Soil

This is a premium soil for all your bonsai needs. It an Akadama blend straight from Japan, and the best in terms of bonsai trees. It changes colors when it is wet so you can easily see if your plants need watering, and it absorbs water while spreading nutrients evenly. This is great for bonsai trees that do not like organic matter that much, and it is better for aeration and draining purposes. Great for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.

Pros:

  • Akadama soil sourced from Japan
  • Great for draining purposes

Cons:

  • Price
  • Nutrient-poor

Conclusion


Potted plants usually have less room to grow and are confined to the container they are in, unlike field or ground plants. They are perfect for indoor areas and small spaces, and delicate flowers and herbs are usually common potted plants.

In this way, they will need to get everything they need from the potting soil – which needs to be rich and complete and allow for growth and breathing. If you plant vegetables and are having a hard time getting them to grow correctly, it is worth purchasing a bag of rich soil to give them a kickstart.

It can be tempting to try to use earth from your garden or the backyard to grow your potted plants, but the truth is it won’t work. In this guide, we covered choices for all plants, needs and budgets, so you are ready to start gardening now!

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