How to Make Your Own Potting Soil? – The DIY Guide

Are you enthusiastic about cultivating a variety of plants in your backyard? Are you looking for effective DIY potting soil solutions and mixtures? With an increase in container gardening, many people are looking for such simple potting soil mixtures. Whether to create soil for their personalized vertical gardens or for their garden window plants, the enthusiastic gardeners are always trying to experiment with new plants.

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Once made, these mixtures can be utilized to cultivate houseplants and also as seed-starters.

You can even design a garden cart to place several potted plants and impart a unique look to your backyard.

Before we dive into the various ways of assembling potting soil mixtures, let’s understand what potting soil is.

What Is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is a mixture of ingredients like perlite, bark, and peat moss suited to grow houseplants as efficiently as real soil. A common myth about potting soil is that it includes real soil. Factually speaking, it does not, and that is the beauty of it.

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These mixtures are at times even better than real soil. A bunch of premium quality potting soils aid superior drainage, are lightweight, effective, and have high consistency in effective plant growth.

Each combination of potting soil differs in texture, nutritional quantity, concentration, water retention capacity, etc. A plus point of home-made potting soil is that you can customize it to the accurate nutritional requirements of your houseplant.

Advantages Of DIY Potting Soil

Assembling your potting mixtures result in the following advantages:

  1. Potting soil mixtures accessible in the market are costlier than assembling potting soil at home.
  2. When you assemble your mixture, you are well aware of what ingredients are included in the soil. This allows your plants to be nurtured with safer and relevant ingredients.

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  1. Potting mixtures made at home provide the structural stability that plants need to grow well.
  2. Freshly made potting mixtures reduce the chances of plant disease.

For these reasons, potting soil is a preferred option for gardeners who like to place plants in scattered areas of their gardens.

Basic Components of Potting Soil

The various forms of potting soil essentially include the following basic materials in varying proportions:

  • Peat Moss:

This is the chief component of nearly all kinds of potting soil mixtures. It comprises of decomposed plant parts that have been decaying over a long time. This elevates the water and air retention of this material. 

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It has low pH which is not suited for all house-plants. Therefore, other ingredients such as limestone are incorporated to neutralize the pH.

  • Coir:

Coir is a versatile natural fiber processed from the husk of the coconut fruit. It is also a base material for several DIY potting soil mixtures. Compared to peat moss, coir fiber is highly nutritious and has a balanced pH rating. Although, it is slightly heavier on the pocket.

  • Pumice:

Pumice is a natural mineral. These little spheres of volcanic glass are formed when obsidian (a type of volcanic rock) gets drenched with water for a long time. 

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For this reason, pumice can hold four times more water than its volume. The presence of large pores also contributes to improving the drainage in your DIY potting soil mixture.

  • Vermiculite:

This mineral improves potting soil structure by increasing soil aeration. It also enhances water retention and nutrient stability. When heated, this element expands to form long strands of worm-like structures. This is a brilliant choice for seed-starter potting mixtures since it has insulation properties.

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  • Limestone:

Limestone is generally mixed with peat moss to counteract its acidic pH. Two types of limestone most commonly included in DIY potting soil mixtures are agricultural limestone and dolomite limestone. Incorporating limestone prevents toxin buildup in your potting mixture.

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It also enhances the effectiveness of herbicides that you incorporate in the potting soil.

  • Compost:

Compost is a man-made mixture of yard scraps and food scraps suited for your houseplants. The useful microorganisms, high nutritional value, and water-retention ability make it ideal for varied types of potting soil mixtures.

how to make your own potting soil

 

DIY Potting Soil Mixtures – The Recipes

For each type of plant you want to cultivate, the potting soil mixture will vary. This is because each plant requires a different ratio of nutrients, moisture, water, air, etc.

A few widespread mixtures for potting mixtures are as follows:

1.For flowers, vegetables, and tropical fruits

  • Peat moss or coir fiber: 3 gallons
  • Compost: 3 gallons
  • Pumice: 2 ¼ gallons
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 2 tablespoons
  • Any natural fertilizer of your choice: 3/4th cup

2.For potted shrubs and trees

  • Compost: 6 gallons
  • Peat moss or coir: 6 gallons
  • Sand: 5 gallons
  • Composted pine bark: 5 gallons
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 1/4th cup
  • Natural fertilizer of your choice: 1 ½ cup

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Please note: For trees and shrubs needing acidic soil to grow, add half a cup of cottonseed meal to this mixture.

3. For succulents and cactus

  • Peat moss or coir fiber: 1 ½ gallon
  • Pumice: ½ gallon
  • Vermiculite: ½ gallon
  • Coarse sand: 1 gallon
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 1 tablespoon

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4. For seed starter

  • Peat moss or coir fiber: 1 gallon
  • Vermiculite: 1 gallon
  • Coarse sand: ½ gallon
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 1 ½ tablespoon

5. For transplanting seedlings

  • Peat moss or coir fiber: 1 gallon
  • Vermiculite: 1 gallon
  • Fine compost: ½ gallon
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 1 ½ tablespoon
  • Natural fertilizer of your choice: 1 tablespoon

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6.  For houseplants

  • Peat moss or coir fiber: 4 gallons
  • Pumice: 2 gallons
  • Coarse sand: 4 cups
  • Lime (for peat moss only): 6 tablespoons
  • Natural fertilizer of your choice: 4 tablespoons

Bonus tip: You may not wish to add store-bought fertilizers to your mixture. You can use Epsom salt solution, used coffee grounds, eggshells, vinegar solution, and ash from your fireplace as nutritional supplements to your soil mixture.

Process for Creating a Potting Soil Mixture

Now that we have understood the essential components of varied DIY potting soil mixtures, let’s move on to the preparation part of it.

Things You Will Require

  1. A measuring container
  2. A large bucket for mixing
  3. Water
  4. Fork or shovel
  5. An empty container for pre-soaking ingredients
  6. A sieve
  7. pH testing soil kit
  8. The ingredients

Safety Measures

Protective safety gear is crucial in all gardening activities. Be sure to put on a protective face mask, gardening gloves, and safety glasses before beginning to assemble your potting soil. Try to refrain from creating your potting soil on a windy day to avoid inhaling any material.

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Assembling

Now that you have everything ready, follow these simple steps to create your DIY potting soil mixture:

Step 1: If using coir fiber as your base, soak the material with water in a big container. Keep pouring water to rehydrate the mixture. Use a shovel to loosen the mixture as this will let more air inside.

If your base is peat moss, pour sufficient lime to counteract the pH rate.

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Step 2: Based on your recipe, add everything except compost and fertilizer to the mixture. 

Step 3: Run your compost mixture through a sieve and add it to the potting soil mixture. Continue mixing thoroughly to incorporate all the compost into the mixture.

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Step 4: Use a pH testing soil kit to check the pH balance for your potting soil mixture. The appropriate pH for soil types will vary depending on the plant you wish to grow. Most plants grow well in soil with a pH from 5.5 to 7.

If the pH balance is slightly acidic, add more lime.

Step 5: Now add the fertilizer of your preference. You can also add extra minerals to supplement the nutritional content of your soil.

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Step 6: In case you do not use all of it, store your potting soil mixture in a container with a lid. Regularly mix water with the soil to keep it moist. Make sure to check the soil pH after a few days, it should have either neutralized or become slightly acidic.

Conclusion

Cultivating plants in the backyard of your home or office space is a fulfilling experience in itself. Curating your personalized potting soil mixture equips you with spot-on knowledge of soil specifics.

Potting soils result in better drainage, aeration, and nutrient control. This guarantees that your plants stay healthy and complete their entire life cycle.

Remember, all the recipes in this guide are customized to suit the requirements of several plant types.

Brice The Botanist
 

Growing up in Ventura, California famous for it's rich gardens. Brice has spent most of his life trying to help make the world greener. Studying Botany at CSRA, he's made it a lifelong passion to greenify every home.

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