The Dish on Dirt – Soil Mixes for Gardening

Good soil mixes play an important role in the success of container gardening. Good soil mixes will support plants through healthy growth by providing nutrients and allowing air to pass through the soil. Also, good soil provides drainage and retains adequate moisture for plant roots for short periods of time.

Pre-mixed soils in bags fall into specific categories, including:

  • Topsoil is meant for outside in the ground. It is dense and heavy and does not drain well, making it a poor choice for container gardening.
  • Potting soils (emphasis on potting) vary; most bags are labeled and have a list of contents on the bag. Tropical plants prefer moist soil so look for more peat in the composition.
  • Sand-soil mixtures increase drainage, water holding capacity and weight. Use this soil on larger plants to help retain moisture and help keep it from tipping over.
  • Perlite soil mixes are more porous and lightweight; perlite draws air from the top, pulling it down into the pot to create air pockets, making it ideal for succulents or hanging baskets.

Most manufactures have labeled bags of pre- packaged soil according to plant type, such as rose soil or cactus soil. While these do cost a bit more, the guess work has already been done for you. And, your plants will thank you for it.

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Our Guest Authors are fantastic former SAWS employees, incredible interns and community leaders in the local landscaping world. They are all as passionate as we are about saving water with beautiful, diverse landscapes.
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