Gardening can be a deeply rewarding journey, both physically and mentally, since it has been associated with a host of benefits for our mental wellbeing. However, it can be extremely frustrating when your gardening endeavors fail, and when you have to watch your plants wilt and die. In order to avoid that, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right steps, such as using the correct soil.
You may have noticed that, when trying to move plants from your garden to pots, to either bring indoors or move in the garden, it doesn’t often go as well as hoped. When using your regular garden soil in planting pots, it’s not uncommon for the plants to suffer. But why?
Well first things first, it actually needs to be noted that there are a bunch of different types of soil that we refer to as garden soil. What we’re talking about here is actual garden soil from your garden, the one you just scoop up, and dump in a pot.
If you’ve ever tried that, you will have noticed it doesn’t really work, but why? You see, the trouble with garden soil, or top soil, as it’s known, is that it’s extremely dense. Typically, soil taken directly from your garden also contains other components, like sand, or clay, which makes it very heavy. In the ground, this soil gets constantly exposed to various insects, bugs, and microorganisms that work to aerate it, and make it less dense.
But once potted, it loses access to these helpful microorganisms, and thus, suffers. Because of the denseness, using topsoil in a pot will lead to very poor drainage, which in turn causes the plants to become soggy, and mushy.
The same is true for the bagged garden soil you’re likely to find at the store. While the composition is slightly different, this will continue to be too dense, and retain a lot of moisture, thus drowning the roots of your plants. Similarly, using compost inside a pot is also prohibited, since it tends to become compact, and doesn’t allow proper drainage.
Using soil from your garden may also cause additional concerns. For instance it may require professional bird control, since topsoil can actively attract birds to your potted plants. So all in all, it seems using soil from your garden for potting plants isn’t such a great idea.
If you’re keen on potting some of your plants, and maybe bringing them inside, don’t let the above discourage you. This doesn’t mean you can’t “do” potted plants, just that you will need to change up the soil a bit. Instead of using soil scooped up directly from your garden, you’ll probably want to invest in a couple of bags of potting mix.
What is potting mix?
Traditional potting mixers or potting soils will contain a mixture of the following ingredients: fertilizer, wetting agent, decomposed material (this will be the majority of the bag, about 50%-60%), or woody agent, vermiculite (sometimes also perlite), and sphagnum peat moss.
When purchasing a bag of potting mix, make sure you check out the ingredients on the back of the bag, to make sure your plants will fare well in a pot. Buying the wrong kind of soil can make all the difference between a successful potted plant, and a floppy, dying plant.
The short answer here is yes, if you use garden soil inside a pot, it can kill your seeds. This is because the soil is too dense and heavy, and will not give the seeds room to grow properly.
So if you’ve already potted a plant using garden soil, you will need to uproot that, and change the soil, if you still can. You’ll want to replace the garden soil with actual potting mix, as only that can offer your potted plant the support, and aeration it needs for proper growth. However, don’t throw out the soil, just dump it back into your garden.
Some gardeners will also use seed growing mix, or seed boosters in their potted plants, to encourage growth in their potted plants. Though there are a few aspects you’ll want to pay attention to, when it comes to seed growing mixes. While these can be extremely beneficial in helping the seeds grow and germinate, they do not actually contain any soil. So don’t make the mistake of using seed growing mix alone, and assuming that is enough.
A seed growing mix is more like an enhancer for your potted plants, but should not be used as a substitute to the soil.