Best Potting Soil for Healthy Plants

Growing plants takes work, dedication, effort, and the best potting soil available. No matter if you have indoor or outdoor plants, the best potting soil for your plant type can help give them the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. There are dozens of different types available from reputable companies that it’s challenging to narrow down one or two to use on your plants. I understand this, and I know how important your plants are to you. This is why I researched and pulled 10 of the best potting soil mixes available. 

You can compare each review side by side to see which one or two will meet your needs the best. If you’re not sure what to look for when you start shopping, take a peek at the buyer’s guide at the end of the post. This will give you a good idea on what sets the best potting soil apart from the competition. 

Soil 1 Start
The best potting soil is a mix of lightweight and airy ingredients that help retain moisture and nutrients without suffocating the plant. There are many different varieties available, and it’s important that you match your soil to your plants for the best results. 

1. Black Gold Organic Potting Mix – Top Pick

 

The first potting soil on the list is from Black Gold, and this is an organic soil that utilizes fertilizers like pumice, perlite, worm castings, and a host of other organic compounds to make it an excellent choice for your container garden. If you’re trying to grow a 100% organic garden or plants, this is one to check out. The added ingredients will help improve the moisture retention rate, drainage, and aeration to ensure that your plant’s roots get enough airflow and adequate drainage to do well in a huge range of soil types. You also get a very earthy, neutral smell that allows you to use it indoors without a problem. 

It works well as a potting soil for herbs because it’s on the lighter side, and it comes with a unique silicone compound that helps promote extensive growth and early flowering while reducing the chances of wilting. It can increase moisture retention so you don’t have to water as much, and it has a beginning pH level of 8.5. This is balanced to help your younger plants grow without a problem. It comes listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute as being an organic product, and you get two bags per order. 

Benefits:

  • Aids in water retention 
  • Works well for herbs
  • 100% organic formula 
  • Reduces chances of wilting 
  • Beginning pH level of 8.5
  • Listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute 
  • Two bags in every order 

Drawbacks:

  • Can develop spores if it gets wet 

2. FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil – Step-Up Pick

 

You’ll get 12 dry quarts when  you order this product, and it comes listed as one of the best potting soils on the current market. A lot of professional-grade gardeners recommend this product, and you can use it as soon as you open the package without having to worry about amending it with other types of soil. This soil works very well for container plantings, and you can get healthy and productive flowers or plants. It has a decent amount of forest humus, sandy loam, peat moss, and a range of other natural fertilizers mixed in, including crab meal, bat guano, worm castings, and ocean fish. 

The pH value of this potting soil is between 6.3 and 6.8, and this lets the fertilizers work very well. The formulation for the fertilizer will last for more than 30 days in this potting soil, and you shouldn’t have to add any additives when the soil breaks down. It’s a nice choice for beginner gardeners or people who don’t have a huge amount of time to dedicate to their gardening project. It can be a little pricey, but you get a decent amount of potting soil for the price. 

Benefits:

  • 12 dry quarts per order
  • Don’t have to amend it 
  • pH value ranges from 6.3 to 6.8
  • Fertilizer formulation lasts over 30 days 
  • Nice for novice gardeners 
  • Contains a decent amount of fertilizer sources 
  • Will break down slowly 

Drawbacks:

  • Can contain fungus gnats

3. AP2 Organic Potting Mix – Mid-End Budget Pick

 

You’ll get a 40-pound bag of potting soil when you choose this mid-end budget pick at a decent price point. It’s ideal to use in indoor and outdoor pots, and it comes packed full of nutrients that can help guarantee that your plants will grow quickly and have beautiful flowers or a bumper vegetable harvest. This is a well-known brand, and the company uses a Myco-Tone formula to enhance the potting soil, and it’ll help you determine how much you should water your plants so you don’t over and underwater them to keep them healthy and thriving. 

It can retain a decent amount of water, so it’s very unlikely that your plants will ever completely dry out. It uses 11 stains of fertilizer to ensure that your plants grow quicker without experiencing any stress. This is also a nice potting soil to have when you want to move your indoor plants outdoors to give them a boost. Everything inside this product’s formula is organic, and it guarantees that your plants will get a minimum of 2% phosphate, 2% potash, and 7% nitrogen when you use it. It works well on residential and commercial growing operations, and it has a very nice earthy smell to it. 

Benefits:

  • Myco-Tone formula 
  • Retains a decent amount of water 
  • 11 strains of fertilizer 
  • Very earthy smell 
  • Works on indoor and outdoor plants 
  • 40-pounds per order 
  • Suitable for commercial operations 

Drawbacks:

  • Soil can have a very loose makeup 

4. Miracle-Gro Potting Mix – Bargain Budget Pick

 

This cubic foot of potting soil will help to ensure that your plants get all of the air, moisture, and nutrients that they need to grow as large and as bright as possible. You get a unique formula with pH values that work well for just about any plant type, including regular house plants and more tropical picks. The soil features a blend of peat moss, fertilizers, and perlite to make it very airy and light while ensuring that it won’t retain too much water. It can improve the soil around your plant to encourage healthier root systems, and it can feed your plants for up to six months.

You can use this potting soil for several purposes, and it will give your plants 11% phosphate, 21% nitrogen, and 16% potash. You get a decent amount of soil from the package if you’re trying to start a small herb garden or flower bed. You can choose from four sizes and two packs when you purchase it, and the bag is easy to open and close to keep it fresh. It can help your plants grow twice as big and twice as colorful as unfed plants, and it’s easy to mix into the soil to give it a nice nutrient boost. 

Benefits:

  • pH works well with virtually any plant
  • Light and airy mix 
  • Encourages a healthy root system 
  • Works for several purposes
  • Feeds the soil for up to six months 
  • Helps plants grow twice a big 
  • Easy to mix into the soil 

Drawbacks:

  • Can contain larger wood chips 

5. Hoffman 10404 Potting Soil – Best For Succulents

 

When it comes to caring for your succulents, the soil is a big deal. It works for succulents and cacti plants of all types and sizes, and the formula works for both desert and jungle varieties of succulents and cacti to feed them and encourage good growth. You’ll get a very balanced pH level with this potting soil, and you can use it straight away after opening the bag without worrying about amending it. The company has a guarantee that the formula can give you enough drainage for your plants to grow properly without getting bogged down with water. 

This potting soil mix comes with limestone, peat moss, sedge peat, and sand to create a light formula with very quick and excellent drainage capabilities. If you don’t have experience growing these types of plants, there are useful tips on the package that you can use to help them along. You can choose from 10 sizes and four color styles with this product, and the soil does repel water if you let it completely dry out. This means that you may have to water it more thoroughly to make sure it sinks through when you do water your succulents or cacti. 

Benefits:

  • Works for cacti and succulents 
  • Won’t let the roots get waterlogged 
  • Limestone and sand mixed in
  • Excellent drainage 
  • 10 sizes available 
  • Four color styles 
  • Balanced pH levels 

Drawbacks:

  • Can repel water if it dries out 

6. Michigan Peat Magic Soil Mix – Best For

 

This is a much smaller company that has a reputation for creating reliable gardening supplies for over 50 years. They have a traditional potting soil formula to give your plants the specialized nutrition they need to do well, and you get great water retention and drainage capabilities. This potting soil works particularly well for vegetable gardens of all sizes, and it features a mix of reed sedge peat moss with additional materials to help it retain moisture each time you water. In turn, this can work to sustain your plant through active growing seasons and longer dry spells without damage. 

This general-purpose potting soil can get used straight from the bag as soon as you open it, and it works very well on indoor and outdoor plants. You can choose from 20 and 50-pound bags, and it’s a much darker potting soil blend. You’ll get enough nutrients to feed your plants for a few months after you use it without having to amend it, and each batch undergoes a nice inspection to ensure that they’re all top-quality. It uses the best ingredients available in each batch. 

Benefits:

  • Reputable company 
  • Very dark potting soil mix 
  • Can use straight out of the bag 
  • General-purpose potting soil 
  • Can feed for a few months 
  • Get 20-pounds per order 
  • No need to amend it 

Drawbacks:

  • Very dense formula could use perlite 

7. All Natural Orchid Potting Mix – Best For Orchids

 

Anyone who grows orchids knows how particular they can be, especially when it comes to potting soil. It can’t be too dense or too light, and you need it to have enough nutrients to feed for months so you don’t have to disturb the roots more than necessary. You get a four-quart bag in each order with this product, and it comes designed to allow for ample room for the plant’s roots to expand and climb, but it also gives you a moisture reservoir that the roots can tap into to nourish the plant. It features sponge rock, charcoal, coconut chips, and pine bark in the mixture to give you a very balanced environment with an open texture. 

This potting soil mix will ensure that your plant’s roots don’t suffocate or compact them, and you can use it to grow paphiopedilum, dendrobium, cattleya, oncidiums, phalaenopsis, and other epiphytic orchids with ease. If you have terrestrial orchids, you’ll have to mix half of an all-purpose potting soil with this product. It allows for excellent aeration and drainage, and you get a heavy-duty bag that reseals. So, you can keep the mix fresh for the next time you have to use it. 

Benefits:

  • Not too light or dense
  • Provides great aeration 
  • High amount of nutrients 
  • Won’t compact the roots 
  • Healthy mix of ingredients 
  • Works for epiphytic and terrestrial orchids 
  • Bag reseals 

Drawbacks:

  • Have to amend it for certain orchids 

8. Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil – Best For Raised Garden Beds

 

Anyone who has raised garden beds can benefit from using this soil to give their plants a strong start. You’ll get a 100% organic mix that comes designed to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs all in raised beds or containers. It features a nice blend of processed forest products, peat, sphagnum peat moss, compost, and coir. In turn, this mix offers an excellent water retention balance with great drainage. Your plants will also enjoy great aeration around the roots to support drought protection by encouraging deep rooting to the bottom of the containers. This is nice if you live in harsher environments. 

The organic nutrients give you an NPK analysis of .09-.08-.09, with .02% calcium in each bag. It has alfalfa meal, poultry litter, kelp meal, bone meal, and earthworm castings in the mix. It comes premixed and ready to add directly to the bed without having to amend it with anything. If you want to grow vegetables or herbs in your raised garden bed, this potting soil offers a 1.5-cubic foot bag. You’ll get bigger plants with a better harvest when you compare them to unfed plants, and it’s a 100% organic mix. 

Benefits:

  • OMRI listed for organic gardening use
  • 1.5 cubic foot bag
  • Works for vegetables, flowers, plants, and herbs 
  • Excellent water retention
  • Aerates the roots
  • Encourages deep growth 
  • 100% organic mixture 

Drawbacks:

  • Lower NPK analysis 

9. Seed Starting Potting Mix – Best For Seedlings

 

No matter if you’re considering growing radishes or another vegetable from seed, this potting soil is a great option. This soil mixture comes blended for fast seed germination and strong, early root growth. You get between 85% and 95% sphagnum peat moss with perlite that gives your seeds a moist area with great aeration that is perfect for developing root systems. You have a guaranteed fertilizer analysis of .03-.03-.03 NPK in each bag, and the nutrients come from potassium sulfate, calcium phosphate, ammonium phosphate, and ammonium nitrate. It’s a lightweight mix that is especially formulated for use on vegetable and flower seeds. 

This potting soil mix also works well to propagate stem, root, or leaf cuttings from various plants, and you should consider using a humidity dome over your plants with this potting soil to keep the surface of the soil moist while encouraging faster germination. You get a nice eight-quart bag each time you order that is enough to feed several different trays of seedlings without running out, and there are two style options available when you pick it that allows you to tailor it to suit your needs to ensure it feeds your plants. 

Benefits: 

  • Between 85% and 95% sphagnum peat moss
  • Encourages healthy root systems 
  • Lightweight mix 
  • Helps propagate cuttings from stems, leaves, or roots 
  • Ready to use right out of the bag 
  • Two styles available
  • Get eight quarts per order 

Drawbacks:

  • Can get soggy 

10. Premium All Purpose Potting Soil – Best For Broad Usage

 

The final potting soil on the list comes from Proven Winners. And you get a 1.5 cubic foot bag that has 50% to 60% Canadian sphagnum peat moss in the formula to make it lightweight while giving you exceptional water retention capacity. It also features perlite and processed softwood bark for aeration, and you get dolomitic lime to help balance out the pH levels. It comes with a continuous release 15-7-15 NPK fertilizer ratio, and this will feed your plants for months after you first apply it. You’ll get a medium-weight potting soil that has great drainage and aeration capabilities, and it’ll help you produce vibrant indoor plants. 

Because this is an all-purpose potting soil, you can use it indoors or outdoors without a problem, including for growing vegetables or houseplants. It works well in hanging baskets and patio containers with annuals. As a bonus, the 1.5 cubic foot size comes rated to fill several different containers. You’ll get strong growth with all of your plants and flowers with this mix, and it will stay slightly moist without getting waterlogged. You can use it straight out of the bag without having to amend it too. 

Benefits:

  • All-purpose mix 
  • Works with containers and hanging baskets
  • 1.5 cubic feet per bag
  • Encourages strong growth with bright flowers 
  • 15-7-15 NPK fertilizer formula 
  • Medium-weight
  • Don’t have to amend it

Drawbacks:

  • Not suited for larger areas

Best Potting Soil – Buyer’s Guide

Generally speaking, the best potting soil serves the same purpose of any soil because it works to support your plants and deliver both nutrients and water to the roots. The best potting soils will mimic the plant’s native soil to give it the best growing environment possible. This means that you have to tailor your soil to your plants. For example, you’d use a different soil for desert landscaping than you would for a tropical garden. 

Soil 2 Desert
Desert landscaping is much different than growing plants in a cooler environment, and you’ll need more nutrients and moisture retention to offset the harsh conditions and lack of water.

A lot of the commercial potting soil mixes you’ll find on the current market come packed with fertilizer. This can be a quick or slow-release variety. It’s beneficial for the potting soil to contain this as it can encourage your plants to grow. However, it’s very difficult to tell exactly how much fertilizer you’re giving your plant when you add it. If you’re someone who has more sensitive plants and you’d like to have exact measurements, opt for the best potting soil mix without fertilizer. This way, you can manually measure and add the fertilizer separately. If you don’t want to use a chemical fertilizer, you can make your own plant food with things you have around the house. 

How well the potting soil works for your plants is entirely up to you. It’s essential that you make sure your plants have enough water. If you live in an area that gets a lot of drought and hot conditions, your plants are going to push their root systems downward and outward to try and find water. Your potting mix should have something in it that helps retain water like perlite, moss, or horticultural vermiculite. 

Buying Considerations 

What do you look for when you start searching for your best potting soil? They’re not all equal, and some work far differently than others. This is why you have to have at least an idea of what you want when you start shopping. If not, it’s easy to get the wrong kind. 

Soil 3 Guide
Both organic and non-organic potting soil can work well for your plants, but it’s important that you pay attention to the nutrients in the mix to ensure your plant has enough to support healthy growth. 

Type

The first thing you should decide is the type of potting soil you want. You can break the best potting soil down into two broad categories. The first category is the organic potting soil. These are usually much more expensive and heavier than non-organic options. They use organic matter only in their makeup, and this can drive the price up. The second category is the non-organic potting soils. They contain man-made ingredients, but they can lose their nutrient value over time. 

You have to understand what sets these two categories apart. Once you do, you can use the following list to narrow down your choices and compare various versions of the best potting soil until you find the best one to help your plants, trees, vegetables, or shrubs grow. 

Circulation 

First up is the air circulation. Your plants will need a good level of circulation to stay healthy, and any potting mix you look at should be able to guarantee this. Light and fluffy potting soils are one option to seriously consider because they allow for maximum airflow. You also don’t want an extremely dense potting soil mix when it gets wet because this can smother your plant and encourage mold growth. 

Soil 4 Circulation
Many people forget how important air circulation is to your plants, but it’s essential if you want to stave off root rot or suffocate the roots. An airy soil won’t compress much when you get it wet, and it’ll allow most of the moisture to flow through. 

Nutrient and Moisture Retention 

It’s essential that the best potting soil can retain both essential nutrients and moisture because they’re vital to your plant’s continued health. Before you pick out an organic or non-organic mix, check and see if it guarantees that it’ll retain both of these items. You can find this out by reading the ingredient list on the package. In a non-organic mix, you’ll want to see peat moss listed. The more peat moss in the formula, the better it’ll be at retaining nutrients and moisture. 

Variety of Nutrients 

As a rule of thumb, you want to make a habit of never purchasing a potting soil mix until you’ve taken a few minutes to read the ingredient list. The best potting soil should have much more than a single nutrient in it because your plants need more than one type to survive. The more nutrients it lists, the better your plants are. It’s common to see 6 to 12 nutrients advertised on the bag. 

Density 

How dense the best potting soil mix is is very important. If you can, test the density before you buy it. You can do this by poking the soil with your fingers. If it gives slightly, it should be acceptable for your plants. If not, find something else. When you add water, your potting soil shouldn’t get hard. If it does, your plants will shove their roots up through the soil. Another way to check the density is to lift up the bag. If it’s surprisingly heavy, you’re most likely getting a lot of fillers like mulch or sand. This isn’t good for healthy plant growth. 

Soil 5 Density
It’s worth it to tailor the best potting soil to the type of plants, location, and environmental conditions you have because this can encourage your plants to grow strong while resisting infestations. 

Bottom Line

Picking out the best potting soil takes time and a little research. If you get it right, your plants have a much better chance of growing lush and strong all season. You have a buyer’s guide and 10 high-quality options to compare in this article, and you should see a difference in your plants when you use them. 

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Best Potting Soil for Healthy Plants Cover