What Soil to use for Container Gardening
Container gardening, just like ground gardening, requires planning and different soil mediums to yield the best results. It is important to decide what you are going to plant and then select the correct soil. Each type of plant has different drainage and nutrient requirements, but by planning out your container garden, and by grouping similar plants together, it is much easier to match the plant’s needs to the best soil choices. Make sure that you are selecting pots and containers that will be deep and wide enough to accommodate what it is you are growing and allow them the space to reach maturity. Most plant identification tags offer this information to help you decide how best to plant them.
It is important to not use soil from the garden for containers or regular ground soil because these soils will not drain as well in a container, and will not allow enough air into the plants roots for healthy plants. Soil for a container garden must be fluffy and drain well; often container soil will be an artificial medium with no real soil in it at all. A potting soil mix that contains perlite and peat is best for apartment gardening, balcony gardening, and container gardening. Be cautious when growing gardens in containers that will be in full sun because while you want a soil that will drain quickly and not retain too much moisture, you also need to be careful to not let them dry out too far. Container gardens retain heat much better than the ground does, and you will find that they tend to need more watering. Allowing your plants to dry out too far, aside from possibly killing them, can cause they to prematurely end their blooming cycle or even go to seed.
The best soil for containers will retain water without being soggy or muddy, and will remain somewhat airy even when damp so that roots can still breathe. For larger pots and containers, or when planting things that require extra drainage, putting rocks or gravel about two inches across the bottom of the pot before adding soil will help to allow excess water to escape and drain off, ensuring that your plants roots stay healthy and produce beautiful plants for you to enjoy. This also allows air to enter through the bottom of the pot which is important to root health too because plants benefit from having properly aerated soil to grow in.
Certain plants will require different soils, but choosing a good, fluffy, well draining potting mix is a great start. Most flowers and non-fruiting plants will do great in a basic potting mix, and for vegetables and fruits, you may need to make a small change. When growing fruits and vegetables, make a mix of about 80% potting mix, and 20% compost mix. This is not a solid rule, and may need to be adjusted depending on how well your potting soil drains. You may find that fruits and vegetables need a bit more organic material to grow healthy and produce fruit, and adding compost to the pot or container and lightly blending it in with the top layer of existing soil is recommended.