What To Look For In Potting Soil? (Few Things)

Confused about what to look for in potting soil? In this comprehensive blog post, we discuss the key factors to consider when selecting the ideal potting soil for your plants.

Discover the essential ingredients and characteristics of high-quality potting soil to help your plants thrive. Additionally, delve into related topics such as finding the best potting mix and creating potting mix for indoor plants.

Arm yourself with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about your potting soil choices. Dive in and find out what to look for in potting soil today!

Understanding the importance of potting soil composition
Knowing how to choose the right potting soil for your plants
Learning how to make your own potting soil
Knowing when to replace your potting soil
Understanding the differences between garden soil and potting soil


The second most important thing to look for in potting soil is fertilizer. While you can add fertilizer to your plants at any time, it’s best to do so when first potting your plant. 

This will ensure the nutrients are absorbed properly by the roots of your plant, and that they don’t get washed away by watering or rain before they’ve had a chance to take hold.

“Knowing the pH level of your potting soil is crucial to ensure the healthy growth of your plants. Check out our guide on how to test the pH of potting soil to learn more about this important factor.” – How to Test the pH of Potting Soil: Landscape Advice

Soil Type

The most important factor in potting soil is the type of soil. The type of soil determines how well it retains nutrients and water, which are necessary for your plants to grow. There are three different types of soil: sand, silt and clay. 

Sand has the largest particle size; it is coarse and gritty. Silt is a finer grain texture than sand with small particles that aren’t easily seen with the naked eye. It also has a somewhat smooth texture when dry but can become gritty when wetted down due to its fine grain size. 

Clay particles are extremely fine in size (the smallest) and have a tight bond between them that makes them sticky when wetted down or moistened by rainwater or irrigation systems like drip lines or sprinklers; 

they’re also known as clods because they tend to stick together instead of breaking apart easily like sands do (which allows water from irrigation systems – drip lines & sprinklers – such as rainfall simply wash away before reaching roots).


Compost is an easy way to add nutrients and beneficial microbes, which are essential for healthy soil. 

It also helps improve aeration and drainage. When you purchase compost, be sure to find out what it has been made from—some composts may contain pesticides or other chemicals that will harm your plants.

“If you’re looking for organic gardening solutions, it’s important to know if potting soil is considered organic matter. Check out our article on whether potting soil is organic matter or not to learn more.” – Is Potting Soil Considered Organic Matter? Find Out

Peat Moss

Peat moss is the most common ingredient in potting soil. It’s a renewable resource, and it contains organic matter that helps hold water. 

But it’s not recommended for seed starting mixes because peat moss doesn’t have much nutritional value for young plants.

Perlite and Vermiculite

Perlite and Vermiculite are both lightweight, natural materials that are used to lighten the weight of potting soil. 

Perlite is a mineral that is heated and expanded to create a white, lightweight substance with a sponge-like texture. 

Vermiculite is another mineral that expands when heated into a grayish-brown material with good aeration qualities. Both perlite and vermiculite can be mixed into potting soils at rates of 10 percent to 20 percent by volume (or about two parts perlite or vermiculite for every 10 parts soil).

pH Balance

pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in your soil.

The range for soil pH is from 0 to 14. A pH reading of 7.0 represents neutral conditions, with anything below 7 being acidic and anything above being alkaline.

You can easily test the pH of your potting soil with a kit available at most garden centers or online retailers (see Resources). 

If you are using store-bought potting mix, check out the bag to see if it contains any amendments that will affect your results such as lime or fertilizer; if so, take this into account when testing the soil’s acidity level.

If after testing you discover that your potting mix’s pH levels fall outside of 5–7 range, there are easy ways to adjust them: add ground limestone where needed for more basic soils (alkaline) or use an acidic compost mix for more acidic soils like peat moss mixed with composted pine bark mulch—or simply buy some fresh potting mix from a local nursery!

“When it comes to growing your own vegetables, using the right potting soil is crucial. Check out our guide on how to make good potting soil for vegetables to learn more about creating the perfect environment for your produce.” – How to Make Good Potting Soil for Vegetables


Drainage is important for the health of your plants. If water cannot drain from the soil, it will pool and cause root rot. 

Drainage can be achieved by mixing sand, gravel or crushed rock into the soil. Alternatively, you can choose to use a pot with holes in it instead of using potting mix that has drainage holes built in.

Moisture Retention

Moisture retention is another important factor to look for in potting soil. It’s important to note that having the ability to retain moisture is not the same as having too much moisture in the potting soil. 

The ideal situation is for your potting soil to be able to retain enough water so that it doesn’t drain out of your pots and onto your floor, but not so much that it gets soggy and difficult for plants to grow.

If you find yourself needing more information about moisture retention and how it affects plant growth, check out this helpful article from Do My Own Pest Control: “How Much Water Should You Give Your Plants?”


Aeration is important for both drainage and the health of your plants. The right amount of aeration in potting soil makes it easy for water to pass through the potting mix, preventing waterlogged roots that can lead to root rot or fungal diseases.

Aerated soil also allows air pockets between particles so oxygen can reach the roots, which promotes good root development and helps prevent root diseases as well.

If you’re buying a bag of potting soil at a local garden center or home improvement store, look for one with large crumbs or pieces of peat moss instead of fine dust — these will help provide better drainage and more aeration than finer materials. 

If you make your own compost from kitchen scraps and yard waste (a great idea), be sure to add coarse sand or perlite to help improve drainage and aeration without compromising any nutrients in the compost itself!

“Regularly replacing your potting soil is important for maintaining the health of your plants. Check out our guide on how often you should replace your potting soil to learn more about this crucial aspect of gardening.” – How Often Should You Replace Your Potting Soil?

Weed & Disease Control

Weed control – Control weeds by using a mulch, or apply pre-emergent herbicides to prevent weeds from germinating. 

If you have already allowed weeds to germinate, you can use post-emergent herbicides to kill them. In some cases, systemic herbicides may be used to control weed growth after it has begun in the soil.

Disease control – Apply beneficial fungi and bacteria (such as mycorrhizae) that are naturally present in potting mixes that are low in organic matter; this helps plants fight off diseases more effectively.

“Finding the best potting soil for your plants can be a daunting task, but our article on the best pot soil can help. Check it out to learn more about the top options available.” – What Is the Best Pot Soil? Find Out


So, now you know what to look for when buying potting soil. You can make your own compost, use peat moss instead of compost if you need aeration and drainage in your mix, or choose a commercial mix with more organic ingredients like vermiculite and perlite.

Further Reading

The Best Potting Soil for Your Plants: A comprehensive guide on the top potting soil options available in the market.

Potting Soil: Everything You Need to Know: A detailed article covering all aspects of potting soil, from its composition to its importance in plant growth.


What is potting soil?

Potting soil, also known as potting mix, is a specially formulated soil designed for growing plants in containers or pots. It typically contains a mixture of organic matter, minerals, and nutrients to provide an ideal environment for plant growth.

What is the difference between garden soil and potting soil?

Garden soil is designed for in-ground planting and has a different composition than potting soil. Potting soil is specifically formulated for container gardening and typically contains more organic matter, perlite or vermiculite for drainage, and a balanced nutrient mix.

Can potting soil be reused?

Potting soil can be reused, but it’s important to amend it with fresh compost and fertilizer before planting new plants. Reusing soil can lead to nutrient depletion and disease buildup over time.

How often should I replace my potting soil?

It’s recommended to replace your potting soil every year for best results. Over time, the soil can become compacted and lose nutrients, making it less effective for plant growth.

Can I make my own potting soil?

Yes, you can make your own potting soil using a mix of organic matter, such as compost or coconut coir, and minerals like perlite or vermiculite for drainage. It’s important to ensure that the soil is balanced in nutrients and pH level for optimal plant growth.