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Best Potting Soil: Our Top 10 Picks and Overall Favorite

If you are going to plant a garden, you might as well start out with the best nutrients that your plants will need by using the best and the most proper potting soil. I am going to discuss what potting soil is, the different types of potting soil, advantages/reasons for buying, considerations when buying potting soil, and the features of potting soil. I will also share our top ten picks of the best potting soil available on the market. I hope that this guide to potting soil helps you not only get motivated and ready to start planting but helps you to be educated on the best type of potting soil for your individual gardening needs.  

The Best Potting Soil on the Market Today

In the chart below, you will find our top ten rated potting soil options. For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."

Product Image

Product Name

Rating

Review

Miracle-Gro Expand 'N Gro Potting Soil

3.8 out of 5

Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix

4.2 out of 5

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil

4.4 out of 5

Black Gold All Organic Potting Soil

4.3 out of 5

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food

4.6 out of 5

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

4.2 out of 5

Bonsai Tree Soil All Purpose Blend

4.3 out of 5

Big Rootz All Purpose Potting Soil pH Adjusted and Enriched

4.4 out of 5

FoxFarm Happy Frog Potting Soil

4.4 out of 5

Roots Organics ROD75 Potting Soil

4.1 out of 5

Top Ten Rated Potting Soil Choices of 2018

  1. Miracle-Gro Expand 'N Gro Potting Soil
  2. Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix
  3. FoxFarm Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil
  4. Black Gold All Organic Potting Soil
  5. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
  6. Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
  7. Bonsai Tree Soil All Purpose Blend
  8. Big Rootz All Purpose Potting Soil pH Adjusted and Enriched
  9. FoxFarm Happy Frog Potting Soil
  10. Roots Organics ROD75 Potting Soil

What Is Potting Soil?

Potting soil, which is also known as potting mix or potting compost, is a nutrient-rich soil sold commercially or can be homemade and is used in gardens, pots, or container gardens. Common ingredients include peat, composted bark, sand, perlite, and recycled mushroom compost. Individual ingredients in potting soils vary depending on which product you buy. There are many soil brands to choose from. Some potting soils contain ground limestone, fertilizer, and other slow-release nutrients. Surprisingly to many people is that potting soil does not contain any soil or dirt, and if it does, it is only in small amounts. The reason why soil or dirt, if used at all, is not put into potting mix is because soil is heavy. This makes for lighter weight packaging and is easier for gardeners to carry potting mix to gardens or individual planting containers. Some brands sterilize the potting mix to avoid plant-borne diseases and to prevent weeds from spreading, which is a good option if you want to ensure that your plants will be healthy and cut down on the possibility of weeds strangling your plants. It also yields higher plant growth.

Keep in mind that some plants may require potting soil that is similar to their native environment. For example, if you are planting an African violet, you will want to purchase or make potting soil that has extra peat moss in it. A cactus plant will be quite different because it needs good drainage ingredients such as perlite or sand. Before you purchase potting mix, it may be helpful to find out where your plants come from and what type of soil they would best suit them.

Different Types

In the potting soil world, there are mainly two types. These types are commercial potting soil and homemade potting soil. Keep in mind that although there are two types, each brand may use different ingredients in the soil. Even homemade potting soils can vary, depending on which ingredients you want and what your plant needs to thrive. So now that we have discussed why you may choose to use potting soil, let’s learn about the two different types of potting soil, advantages/reasons for buying each, and each of their pros and cons.

Commercial Potting Soil

Commercial potting soil includes any type of potting mix that you purchase at a store or from an online site. Commercial potting soil is very popular since it is already made and convenient to use. The potting mix will usually come in a bag which can weigh from five pounds to fifty pounds. You can purchase the potting mix online, or you at local stores that sell plants. Commercial potting soil is usually sterilized, so you won't have to worry about weeds overtaking your flowers. Sterile potting soil also means that there will be no plant-borne diseases contained in the soil. Keep in mind that commercial potting soil can become expensive, especially if you need a lot of it, or you need to buy it annually.

Homemade Potting Soil

Homemade potting soil is the best potting soil for those on a low budget. Because you are making it, you can also decide how much you want to make so that none of it is wasted. A nice feature about it is that you can sterilize the potting soil yourself. There are many different methods to use, including steam, the microwave, or the oven. Keep in mind that you will still need to buy the ingredients, but overall it should be cheaper than buying commercial potting soil.

Two types of potting soil to consider when buying commercially or making your own is the following:

Organic Potting Soil

Organic potting soil has many benefits. First, it is very nutrient-rich, meaning that the richness of the soil provides a natural protection for the plants. Organic farmers do not use pesticides. Organic potting soil has higher levels of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. Many organic potting soil reviews from customers state that it works very well and even better than other types. The best organic potting soil should contain some of these ingredients: compost, seaweed, manure compost, mushroom compost, bat guano, bone meal, soybean meal, soft rock phosphate, greensand, fish meal, blood meal, and/or worm castings.

Acidic Potting Soil

Acidic potting soil is made for acidic-loving plants. These plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, strawberries, and heathers. This means that these particular plants need soil that is pH about 5.5. There are many different acidic potting soils to choose from, so make sure to get the right soil if you have an acidic-loving plant.

Advantages / Reasons for Buying

Great for Indoor Plants

If you have indoor potted plants, potting soil is a great option. The best potting soil for indoor plants will have peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite in it.

Potting Soil Is Not Heavy

Unlike regular soil, potting soil is very lightweight. This makes moving pots around in your yard or home much easier. It is also easier when transporting potting soil from the store to your garden. If you are making homemade potting soil, make sure to add ingredients that are lightweight.

Has Good Nutrients

Potting soil, especially organic potting soil, contains many healthy nutrients. When making your own soil, make sure to add plenty of the nutrients discussed above, which are also found in the ingredients for potting soil.

Moisture

Many commercial potting soils contain ingredients that maintain moisture. This means that you won't have to water your plants as much. The main ingredient that enables it to keep its moisture is horticultural vermiculite. If you are making homemade potting soil, be sure to add this ingredient.

Considerations When Buying

What Is Your Budget?

The first thing to consider is your budget. Commercial potting mixes come in a variety of prices, so choose the one that will fit your budget. If you are wanting a high-quality potting soil, then you may have to pay a little more. If you are on a low budget, then you may want to consider making your own potting soil. Before buying or making potting soil, simply think about what you are willing to spend, and what will best fit your needs.

What Type of Soil Does Your Plant Need?

One of the most important things to consider is what kind of soil your plant needs. As I mentioned earlier, some types of plants may need a specific potting soil. If you don’t use soil that is appropriate for your plant, your plant will not thrive, and may eventually die. To prevent this from happening, make sure to know your plant needs before buying or making your own potting soil. A good way to know what your plant needs is to look it up online. Check out your plant's history, its origin, and in which type of soil it will thrive. This will give you an idea of your plant needs and help you to purchase or make appropriate potting soil.

Which Brand Do You Want to Try?

One of the best potting soil brands to buy is Miracle-Gro. It is a popular soil brand, is readily available in most gardening or local stores, and is a top rated potting soil. Keep in mind that there are many soil brands, so you may want to try out a few or experiment making your own until you find a potting soil brand that works for you.

Are You Growing Vegetables?

The best potting soils for vegetables are the ones that provide for good drainage, well-aerated, and has a pH that is close to neutral. If you will be growing vegetables, research which potting soil has those features. If you choose to make your own, use ingredients that are recommended when planting vegetables.


Pros

  • plus
    Helps plant growth and will thrive
  • plus
    Is not heavy
  • plus
    Sterilized to cut down on weed growth

Cons

  • close
    Can be costly

Features

Lightweight

As I mentioned earlier, potting soil is lightweight. It is light enough to move individual pots, but not too light so that pot would blow away. Potting soil is a good option for those who want a soil that is lightweight and convenient.

Sterilized

Commercial potting soil is sterilized, which means you won't get plant-borne diseases and it will cut down on weed growth.

Organic

Some commercial potting soils are organic. Organic potting soils have many benefits, as I stated earlier, including that it contains more nutrients and does not need pesticides.

Our Top Pick

Our pick for the best potting soil is Miracle-Gro Expand 'N Gro Potting Soil.

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Recommended Best Sellers

SaleBestseller No. 1
FoxFarm FX14053 12-Quart Ocean Forest Organic...
  • Ocean forest organic potting soil posses everything in one...
  • Powerhouse blend of premium earthworm castings, bat guano...
  • Composted forest humus, sandy loam and sphagnum peat moss
SaleBestseller No. 2
Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix
  • Potting soil
  • For all indoor and outdoor containers
  • Enhanced with Myco-Tone water saving formula
Bestseller No. 3
Miracle-Gro Expand 'N Gro Potting Soil 0.33 CF
  • Great substitute for garden soil or potting mix
  • Can be used in-ground or in containers (see label for...
  • Grows up to 3X bigger plants than native soil and feeds up...

Conclusion

I hope that this guide to potting soil has helped you to understand the benefits of potting soil and will help you decide which type will fit your horticulture needs. I have discussed the different types and advantages to each. Potting soil will vary in price, so consider your budget, make or buy your soil, and then get planting!