If you dream of gorgeous, stunning, and overflowing hanging baskets and potted plants, then make those dreams come true this year by filling your containers with the perfect potting soil!
Having the right soil in containers makes all the difference. With great soil, a plant’s root system thrives below the surface. And when roots thrive, so will the plant!
Great potting soil should be filled with all of the necessary nutrients a plant will need throughout a growing season. It should be lightweight, but still have structure. It also needs to drain properly, but still be able to retain moisture to keep roots nourished throughout the hot summer season.
Although there are hundreds of commercial bagged mixes available, we have always made our own at the farm. Not only is it economical, it also gives us the peace of mind of knowing exactly what is in it. Especially since we grow a fair number of heirloom tomatoes and peppers in containers around the farm. If we are going to consume what we grow, we want to know exactly what is in our soil. But even more than that, we just simply have better results making and using our own organic blend.
Over the past seven years, we have tried all sorts of combinations for our potted mixes. Without a doubt, there is always one, simple, 4 part combination we come back to time and time again. We like to call it the perfect potting soil, because it always seems to keep our hanging baskets and potted plants thriving all summer long.
How To Create Perfect Potting Soil
You can create this potting soil mix in any quantity. We fill a one gallon pail for our “parts”, and then mix the ingredients in a wheelbarrow. The real key is to keep the portions the same as you expand or diminish the recipe.
Pulverized Soil – 4 Parts
A great mix starts with pulverized top-soil. Pulverized top soil can be found in bulk or in bags, and is usually very inexpensive. The key is that it is pulverized!
Starting with a fine soil mix is a big must. If soil is too clay-ish or compacted, it will make it hard for a plant’s root system to expand. It also makes it hard for the roots to absorb nutrients. Pulverized topsoil should be super-fine and crumble easily when held.
Compost – 4 Parts
When it comes to all things incredible, compost is the king! Compost is the perfect additive for potting soil because it is teaming with life! Compost is filled with life-giving nutrients that plants can easily convert through their root system to grow strong. It also adds structure and holding power to the soil mix.
Compost holds as much as 10 times its own weight in water, so it helps keep plants protected on hot days. Be sure to use compost that is completely aged and broken down. This, much like with the pulverized top soil, will keep your soil mix loose and friable.
Perlite – 1 Part
Although a surprise to many, perlite is actually a 100% natural substance. It is volcanic glass that is then heated and popped, much like popcorn.
The result is a substance that is super lightweight. The open pores of perlite help potting soil with both water retention and drainage. They can hold water many times their own weight just like compost. They also keep the finished mix lighter than if just soil and compost were used.
Perlite has a PH of 7, which is perfectly neutral. Just another reason it is the perfect lightweight additive. Product Link : Horticulural Perlite
Worm Castings – 1 Part
This is the big one when it comes to making perfect potting soil! Worm castings have made an astounding difference in the health and looks of our potted plants. Like perlite and compost, they are lightweight and absorb water, making them perfect for potting mixes.
Quite simply, they work wonders as an all-natural, slow release fertilizer. We mix in one part with ever batch of potting soil we make to keep our plants thriving all year long. Product Link : Worm Castings
Coffee Grounds – 1 Part
Spent coffee grounds are excellent for making potting soil. They add nitrogen and other trace minerals to the mix. And best of all – they are free!
Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.