Potting Soil Recipes

Start seeds easily in homemade potting mix.
Start seeds easily in homemade potting mix. | Source

From seed starting to container herb gardening, the right soil mix can be the key to success.


Rich Potting Mix

Perfect for container gardens, this mix is rich in nutrients.

Ingredients

2 parts compost

1 part sand

1 part topsoil

1 part perlite

1 part vermiculite

Directions

Wetting the ingredients before measuring and mixing makes them easier to manage. First, slit each bag, creating small openings about two inches wide. Slowly add warm water, massaging the bags from the outside so that the moisture spreads throughout (Smith 17). Then measure and mix the ingredients. If the mixture is too wet, allow it to sit for a few hours or even overnight before use.

If mixing ingredients dry, be sure to wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling fine particles.

Mix for Herb Seeds

Inexpensive & porous, this potting soil recipe uses sterile mix as the basis for a growing medium that's perfect for beginning herbs from seed.

Ingredients

2 parts sterile mix

2 parts coarse playground sand

2 parts fine peat moss

1 part perlite

Directions

Combine moistened ingredients and use immediately. If preparing for later use, add water to the mix one day before use. Keep the mixture moist as seeds germinate and seedlings develop.

Fertilizer may be added as herbs grow (Zabar 18).

Easy Sterile Mix

Sterile potting mix is the ideal medium for propagating plants by cuttings.

Ingredients

1 part coir or fine peat moss

1 part perlite

(Smith 17)

Directions

Before measuring and mixing the ingredients, wet them with warm water in the manner described in the Rich Potting Mix recipe above.

When ready to use, the mix should feel damp, not wet, to the touch. Squeeze some of the mix in your hand. If it drips water, allow it to sit for several hours or even overnight before use.

Like violets, sedum can be propagated from petiole (leaf stem) cuttings.
Like violets, sedum can be propagated from petiole (leaf stem) cuttings. | Source

Potting Mix for Petioles

Easily start new plants from leaf petiole cuttings in this light, 2-ingredient soil mix.

A leaf's petiole is its stalk. Some plants, like jade, sedum and African violets, are easy to propagate from petiole cuttings any time of year, even during the winter.

To begin leaf petiole cuttings, fill small pots with a light, moist, soil-less mix comprised of

  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part vermiculite.

Cut each leaf petiole at an angle with a sharp knife or razor blade. Make a hole in the mix, insert the petiole cutting and firm the mix around it. Once the petioles develop plantlets, transplant them into larger pots filled with soil.

Water the pot from the bottom, keeping the rooting mix consistently moist. If you like, you may cover the pot to increase humidity (Smith 88-9).


Common Potting Mix Ingredients

Ingredient
Description/Purpose
Coir
Made from coconut hulls, coir is good in soilless potting mixes. Use it as you would medium-milled peat moss.
Compost
Decomposed organic matter, compost contains beneficial microorganisms.
Fine Bark
Shredded/chipped bark may be used as a substitute for peat. Good in mixes for orchids and other acidic soil-loving plants.
Grit
Improves soil drainage. Excellent in mixes for cacti, alpine plants and herbs.
Leaf Mold
Rotted leaf matter, leaf mold provides texture in rooting mixes.
Peat Moss
Although it has little nutrition, peat holds moisture and allows drainage.
Perlite
Made from volcanic rock, perlite holds moisture and allows drainage.
Sand (Coarse & Fine)
Increases soil's drainage capacity and aeration; good addition to soil mixes for cacti and herbs
Soil
Sterilized soil is great in hardy mixes for long-term container gardens. It has lots of nutrients and a good texture, holding moisture while allowing water to drain.
Vermiculite
Made of mica, vermiculite is comparable to perlite, although it has better water-retaining abilities.

SOIL-LESS POTTING MIXES

Great for Seed Starting

To avoid damping off and other fungal infections that cause seedlings to drop their leaves and die, start seed in a soil-less growing medium. Unlike soil, a soil-less potting mix won't contain fungal spores.

SOIL-LESS MIX #1 for Starting Seeds

Ingredients

2 parts fine peat moss

1 part perlite

1 part vermiculite

a pinch of slow-release fertilizer and/or lime

(Smith 17; Toogood 34)

Add warm water to the first three ingredients while they're still in their respective bags in the manner described for Rich Potting Mix. Then measure and mix, adding a pinch of lime or fertilizer.

Before planting seed, be sure that the potting mixture is moist, not sopping wet. Squeeze a handful of the mix. It should feel damp, not wet. If the mix drips water, allow it to dry out a bit before use.

If mixing the ingredients dry, be sure to wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling particles.


SOIL-LESS MIX #2 for Starting Seeds

Ingredients

3 parts fine peat

1 part fine bark

1 part perlite

(Toogood 34)

To mix the ingredients wet, follow the directions in the Rich Potting Mix recipe above.

If mixing ingredients dry, wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling fine particles.


Works Cited

Smith, Miranda. The Plant Propagator's Bible. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2007. Print.

Toogood, Alan, ed. Plant Propagation. NYC: DK Publishing, 1999. Print.

Zabar, Abbie. The Potted Herb. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2000. Print.



State Fair Zinnia
State Fair Zinnia | Source

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.



© 2012 Jill

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Comments 12 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi grandmapearl. If you're transplanting vegetable seedlings, the rich potting mix would be fine, but if you're starting them from seed, you may want to go with a lighter mix and then either transplant them or feed them with a fertilizer as they develop. Glad you stopped by. --Take care, Jill


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Great information as always! I have pinned this and bookmarked it for later reference. All of these soil mix recipes will come in very handy for me. Thanks for sharing them with all of us. Would I use the rich potting soil recipe for container-grown vegetables? I have very little sun, so I have to use containers to take advantage of sunny areas in my backyard using different levels vertically in order to gain as much room as possible. Voted Up, Useful & Interesting.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi Kent! Glad you found the hub useful. Enjoyed your article on stratification! Thanks for stopping by. (: --Jill


Kent Lofgren profile image

Kent Lofgren 4 years ago from Umeå, Sweden

Great hub with lots of information and ideas to test.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Rachel, what a nice thing to say! Thanks. (:


Farmer Rachel profile image

Farmer Rachel 4 years ago from Minnesota

Wonderful and informative as always! I think you should get the award for "most beautifully designed Hubs", Jill :) And if there isn't an award for that, they should make one! Voted UP


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan! For bougainvillea, you need loamy soil, a mix that drains really well so that the plant doesn't get root rot. I'd try the rich potting mix and layer the bottom of the pot with gravel. Good luck-- and take care! Jill


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Any ideas for soil type for overwintering a bougainville that I got for my birthday? I need to repot it, but not sure what kind of soil. Not even close to being a native in NW Pennsylvania. Nice hub!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Awesome, MarleneB! Glad they're helpful. Thanks for stopping by. Take care, Jill


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

This is the greatest information to have handy. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I will be following them closely before my next planting.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for the feedback, carol7777! (: Jill


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I love the recipes even if you cannot eat them Thanks for sharing these for all of us thinking about and actually doing some planting. Voted UP.

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