Garden Advice

What Types of Potting Soil Are There?

Are you a gardening newbie? You’ve been slowly getting into growing your green babies in pots and you’ve got so many questions on your mind. You may have your pots, your tools, your plants, seemingly everything you need. But wait! What about potting mix? Do you actually know what kind you need to get? How many types of potting soil are even out there?

Don’t worry! The experts at Fantastic Services are here to help you find out all you need to know about the different potting soil types.

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So, if you:

  • Are just getting into growing plants in pots;
  • Are not sure what kind of potting soil to get;
  • Want to know about the different types on the market,

Then read on! This post is just for you!

What is potting soil?

You might be surprised to find “potting soil” is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn’t technically contain actual soil at all. Instead, composted tree materials, peat moss, and a variety of other ingredients are mixed together.

But wait, are potting soil and potting mix different then? Well, that depends. Usually, they are used interchangeably and there is no actual difference between them. However, some products labelled “potting soil” do contain soil, which is mostly inferior to the man-made mix we use. So, make sure to always check the ingredients before buying. To be on the safe side, you can opt for products named “potting mix”.

So, what is the purpose of potting mix?

  • It holds moisture and nutrients around the roots, releasing them slowly and supplying the plant with the food and water it needs.
  • It provides air for growing roots to breathe and prevent them from rotting.
  • It acts as a foundation to support the plant and hold it in place.

When choosing potting soil, look for a variety that is light and fluffy. You don’t want compacted soil around your plants. As for the ingredients, that depends on the type of potting mix you need for the specific plant you’re growing. To find out more about the different kinds, read on!

Mind you, if you decide to one day build a raised garden bed you’d have to purchase a different kind of soil for it. Potting soil is too light for raised garden beds.

What potting soil types are there?

So, exactly what types of potting soil are out there? Well, it’s difficult to list them all in one place, as there are so many varieties. However, in this article, we will talk about the most common potting soil types.

Standard soilless potting mix

As we mentioned previously, most potting soil doesn’t contain actual soil at all. Most standard mixes contain a combination of:

  • Sphagnum peat moss
    Peat holds moisture and releases it slowly to keep the roots moist for longer periods of time.
  • Pine bark
    This ingredient is added to improve air circulation and moisture retention, which it achieves due to its texture.
  • Perlite or vermiculite
    These volcanic byproducts are used to lighten the mix and improve soil aeration.

Some products have limestone in them to balance the pH levels in the soil. Many potting mixes come with fertiliser added in, so the plants wouldn’t need feeding for a few weeks after potting.

Seed-starting potting soil

Seed-starting potting mix is very similar to the standard variety, with the exception that the soil is finer and there is usually no pine bark added in.

Some gardeners do quite well with starting seeds in regular potting soil. However, if you need a sterile environment for your seeds to grow, for example, to protect them from mould or fungi, then seed-starting mixes are well worth their money.

Specialty potting soil

It’s time to dive deeper into specialty potting mixes. They are made for a particular plant type with different needs, using various ingredients to provide the perfect environment for your green babies to grow. There are many different types of potting soil available for purchase, or you can mix your own.

Since it’s impossible to list them all without going on for miles, we will instead talk about the most common varieties.

  • Cacti and succulent mix
    The soil in this potting mix provides more drainage, as succulents and cacti will suffer in drenched soil. It usually contains peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, horticultural sand or another coarse substance, and sometimes bonemeal to provide phosphorus.
  • Orchid mix
    This potting soil is sturdy and doesn’t break down quickly. It is made to mimic the natural environment that orchids grow in. There are various combinations of ingredients here. Some may include coconut husks, fir or redwood bark, peat, tree fern fibre, vermiculite, perlite, and charcoal.
  • African violet mix
    African violets require acidic soil to thrive. So, the contents of this potting mix usually include peat moss, vermiculite or perlite, and limestone to achieve the proper pH level.
  • Peat-free mix
    Peat moss is a non-renewable resource, mostly harvested from the peat bogs in Canada. This could be a concern for gardeners that don’t want to strip nature of this resource. Thus, peat-free potting mixes exist. Most products contain various types of compost, as well as coir, which is a byproduct of coconut husks.

Need a hand with your gardening project?

Do you get confused while trying to choose the perfect types of potting soil? Do you need a hand with an ambitious gardening project? Worry not! The expert gardeners at Fantastic Services are here to help!

With years of experience under their belts and all the tools necessary to complete the job, you can rest assured that the professionals will leave your garden looking its best. Just imagine it – a lush, green lawn, a beautiful perennial garden, no more overgrown hedges – your own personal slice of paradise! So, what are you waiting for? Just use our simple online booking form and choose a date and time that suit your schedule!

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  • The most common types of potting soil are standard soilless mix, seed-starting soil, and specialty potting mixes.
  • Most potting soils contain a mix of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite or vermiculite.
  • Seed-starting potting soil contains no pine bark and is usually finer in texture.
  • There is a wide array of specialty potting mixes available for different plants.


Did you find this article useful? Do you have any other questions about potting mix? Tell us in the comments below!

Image source: shutterstock / Elena Elisseeva

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