How to Find the Best Soil for your Plant
There’s a lot of it. And it’s hard to know which to use for your plant. Sometimes it can feel easier to just keep it in the soil it comes with, or grab a random bag off a shelf at a big box store, but these are not the best soils for your plants.
When we first got into plant care we thought any bag of potting soil would do. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Through our experiments over the years we found out just how horrible soil can be and how bad soil can set your plants up to fail:
Cacti and succulents are usually sold in really awful, dusty, compacted soil. We’re talking about the soil where you pull your plant out and the soil stays in the same shape as the grower’s cup. You know what we’re talking about, right? That soil, when lightly compacted, can create a horribly mucky consistency that holds water against the roots of the plant for too long. When it’s highly compacted, the water won’t saturate the soil, rolls off the top, and it will never reach the roots. Either way, this soil is a lose-lose.
Pro-tip 1: The only places where we have seen cacti and succulents set up in nice soil outside of our greenhouse have been in a few mom and pop nurseries and IKEA. IKEA actually has great sandy cactus and succulent soil and if they sold that one we would not have needed to create our own! Since they don’t, we created our own specialty small batch soil for the needs of each plant type we grow.
Pro-tip 2: You can tell the soil is higher quality if you can pull the plant out of the cup without the soil retaining the shape of the cup.
Typical bags of cactus and succulent soil are usually dusty and full of perlite. The dust of the soil and the perlite is not good for you to breathe in and cause muckyness in the soil that doesn’t allow for proper drainage.
Big box stores have soil they claim is for potting indoors and are marketed as “all you need to start potting.” These bagged soils are fine for outside but have too much mulch for indoor plants. Really these soils aren’t good for your plants as they hold too much water which can lead to overwatering and mold development.
Pro-tip 3: You will want to find a soil that doesn’t have mulch or perlite but is fluffy and, if for cacti and succulents, contains lots of large, gritty sand. These soils allow for proper drainage and do not clump meaning roots can receive oxygen, and keep from becoming compacted.
Pro-tip 4: It’s important to correctly differentiate what soil goes with which plants. For example, you’ve heard Snake plants are houseplants, right? Nope! They are really succulents so they need to be in cactus and succulent soil and watered accordingly.
Our cactus and succulent soil works well for any kind of plant that needs lots of drainage and to be dry in between watering.
Houseplant soil works well for any plant that needs a higher amount of moisture over time and moisture that lasts but doesn’t lead to mold.
How to find the right type of soil is just one of 4 important parts of our blog series about the most important ways to take care of your plants. Other blogs include: What to Look for in a Plant, How to Find the Best Planters for Your Plant, and the upcoming blog: How to Know What Plant Instructions to Follow.We know it takes a lot of work to figure out what works best when you want to be the best plant parent you can be. If you don’t want to do all the heavy lifting of figuring out the specifics of creating the best soil, finding the best planters, knowing plant to soil ratios, and proper plant care instructions, our Plant Kits have everything you need.