The Best Potting Soil: Choose The Right Potting Mix

Ed Wike
Written by
Last update:

Gardening can be quite tricky, especially in maintaining healthy plants without risking your own health or having them become infected with plants that thrive in unsafe conditions. A DIY potting mix eliminates the need of purchasing an expensive store-bought potting mix that’s loaded with sodium that can produce as much as three times the needed amount of fertilizer. What’s your secret ingredient? Mushroom compost!

Highly nutritious, mushroom compost is rich in humic acids that support plant growth, as well as beneficial micro-organisms. The secret to success is all in the method of its production: mushrooms are grown from organic materials like sawdust, molasses, and some types of food waste. The shrooms are then harvested and composted with the other ingredients and left to mature for a number of weeks.

Although composting isn’t the simplest of tasks, you can make it easy for yourself by investing in a commercial mushroom compost maker. You will can also purchase a mushroom compost kit and follow the simple instructions to produce their compost at home.

NameCategoryProduct
Sun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid MixBest OverallSun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid Mix
Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil MixBudget PickHoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
Espoma AP2 Organic Potting MixUpgrade PickEspoma AP2 Organic Potting Mix

1. Sun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid Mix

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid Mix

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Premium quality
  • Affordable price point
  • Great value
  • Very good product description
  • Made in the USA
  • Ready-to-use

With orchids, you need to make sure you choose the best potting soil and media for your plant. What you may or may not know is that there are a variety of potting media or mixes that you can use, and it depends on how you want to grow it. But if you’re buying, it’s usually best to buy a pre-mixed potting soil.

The SunBULB 50000 Supersaturated Ph Balanced Orchid Media comes in a generous 4-quart container, and it’s designed to be used for an advanced, professional form that is compatible with a wide range of orchid varieties.

The SunBULB 50000 Supersaturated Orchid Media is an ultra-premium sand-based orchid mix that's ideal for epiphytic orchids.

2. Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix

Our rating: 9 / 10

Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • High-quality organic ingredients
  • Features bat guano and worm castings
  • Rich, dark color
  • Fertilizes soil as it sits
  • Quick-release nutrients
  • Long-lasting and reusable

A mix that is rich in organic fertilizers like Espoma's AP8 is the best bet for your plants. One of these 8-quart bags will last you throughout the garden season and can even be mixed in with your own compost to boost the nutrition of the soil.

Best of all, it is a slow-release fertilizer that gives your plants the nutrients they need over the course of a few months, which means less fertilizer is needed overall.

The Espoma AP8 is a premium potting mix that may be a bit on the pricey side, but it is very high-quality, resulting in vibrant plants and flowers for a few months in your garden.

3. Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

Our rating: 9 / 10

Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Non-GMO and organic
  • Extremely fine texture
  • Perfect for cacti and succulent plants
  • Performs well in a wide range of temperatures
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Potential to dry out
  • Some clumping issues
  • Coarse texture not suitable for young plants

When it comes to cacti and succulent plants, you really have to put your best foot forward to ensure that they thrive. It’s important to understand that the size and weight of these plants do not adapt well to large pots. So it’s quite vital to provide the optimum level of care.

This soil mix from Hoffman strikes the perfect balance of size and weight to ensure optimal water retention and air circulation. At well over three pounds, this mix is obviously on the heavier side. It’s also quite fine, which ensures the best level of water retention. It’s perfect for getting started with your succulent or cactus garden.

If you’re looking to expand your existing garden, it’s well worth considering the Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix as an excellent medium to support further development. The texture is absolutely perfect and ensures that your garden will continue to flourish.

4. Espoma AP2 Organic Potting Mix

Our rating: 8 / 10

Espoma AP2 Organic Potting Mix

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Made in the US
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Aerated root-ball
  • Nutrient rich
  • Encourages moisture retention
  • Excellent for organic gardening

Cons:

  • It’s expensive
  • Can be too dense for hydroponic gardening

When it comes to plants and gardening, there’s no debate that Espoma reviews often rank number one. This means it has a good reputation and proven track record of success. The manufacturer is based in Washington and offers a 100% money back guarantee, so you can rest assured you’re buying a high quality perlitevermiculite blend that is safe for indoor and outdoor plants.

This Espoma organic potting mix is ideal for first-time growers as well as experienced ones. It’s rich in organic matter and is made from natural ingredients which supply plants with the nutrients and moisture they need to thrive.

5. Black Gold 1302040 8-Quart All Organic Potting Soil

Our rating: 8 / 10

Black Gold 1302040 8-Quart All Organic Potting Soil

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Good for intensive hydroponic as well as traditional gardening
  • Proper drainage, air flow and aeration
  • It is super easy to clean and maintain
  • Nutrient rich formula providing ultimate growth potential
  • The soil looks and feels a lot like a regular soil

When it comes to selecting the right soil for your plants, it is important to choose the right one that is right for your plants. It is crucial that you check the composition of the soil before you go buying a particular one. Before we review some of the best potting mix for your garden, it would be nice to understand a little of the basics of the potting soil.

Let’s understand a little bit about the components that go into a potting soil.

In any potting mix, the three main components are sand (or coarse kitchen and food grade gravel), clay (coated or uncoated) and vermiculite (or perlite). Both clay and vermiculite are superabsorbent and hold water for a long time while sand (also known as gravel) drains it carrying toxins out of the plant root zone. The soil composition greatly depends on the kind of garden that you are growing.

6. Jobe's Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes

Our rating: 8 / 10

Jobe's Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Approved for use in vegetable, flower and fruit gardens
  • The spikes are easy to use, with a pre-measured fertilizer amount
  • No waiting for the fertilizer to dissolve or leach
  • Safe for kids and pets
  • Safe for the environment

Cons:

  • The spikes are only good for one use
  • Can be a bit expensive

If you are looking for an organic fertilizer than Jobe's Organics is a good choice for you. These vegetable fertilizer spikes from Jobe's are made from all natural ingredients, and contain no synthetic fertilizers. They're odorless and completely safe to use. Plus the spikes are easy to use – just inject the spike into your soil once in every 5-6 weeks.

The Jobe's Organics Vegetable fertilizers are made of natural ectoine, derived from a halophyte plant, which helps to increase crop production and improve physical performance in plants. The spikes are also rich in other beneficial natural ingredients like humic acid, potassium, and organic nitrogen compounds. The combination of these ingredients help to boost soil fertility, improve plant growth and development, as well as promote stress tolerance. The nutrients will last in the soil for months, depending on how much water and sunlight it gets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What brand of potting soil is best?

Many soil brands are available, some of which are quite similar, but there are a few that stand out from the rest. You should choose a soil mix that’s made from natural products and has a porous texture for optimal plant growth. It’s important that it also contains plenty of nutrients to support the plant’s health and growth efficiency.

Ordinary soil can be used for plants, but you must consider the quality of the soil itself and always choose a good unit that’s suitable for plant growth. A bag of potting soil is certainly more expensive than ordinary soil, but it’s fairly inexpensive for what it offers.

What is better potting soil or potting mix?

I like to call it potting soil, and I like it loose. Look for garden soil without peat moss or vermiculite. Peat moss, which has a high water content, is healthier for your plant roots. Vermiculite, however, is a mined natural product that looks like popcorn and will emit toxic fumes when it gets hot. An easy way to know if your potting soil contains vermiculite, is to look for the word “perlite” or “expanded” on the bag.

I do like the consistency of potting mix, which is found in ready-to-use bags and contains peat moss and vermiculite. However, just know that they will eventually break down and decompose.

Is Brunnings potting mix good?

Recently, I asked a question on Amazon about the quality of Brunnings potting mix, and got some dependable replies.

Some people stated that the quality of the soil is fine, and the price is right. It’s not as expensive as some other brands but it does the job. They also found it a little on the “dusty” side, however, that’s probably due to the fact that it’s dry and lightly sanded.

The Brunnings potting mix other users buy claims to be 80% soil, so it probably is pretty good. However, there were also quite a few complaints about the quality of Brunnings potting mix.

Whats the difference between potting mix and potting soil?

The main difference between potting soil and potting mix is the difference between buying a bag and buying a bag of compost. One is purchased and the other made.

Conclusion

What you choose for your potting soil depends on your plants and how much time you'll be spending on them. If you're a hobbyist just growing a few pots of flowers, or trying out different types of gardening, then it's probably a good idea to look into commercial potting soil. If however you're looking to get into it as a career, or are just determined to have a lot of plants, then you might want to look into planting soil.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Sun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid MixBest OverallSun Bulb 50000 Better Gro Special Orchid Mix
Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil MixBudget PickHoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
Espoma AP2 Organic Potting MixUpgrade PickEspoma AP2 Organic Potting Mix