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Garden Soil or Potting Mix?

When you are about to grow a plant in a pot, a question that often comes up is, what is the best type of potting mix to put into the pot and can I use garden soil?

A quality garden soil is really good in a garden situation, but when you put it into a confined spot the properties of the soil can change. In the garden you have a ecosystem that tries to keep everything balanced including diseases, pests and weeds and in a confined space these can increase rapidly.

Also a quality garden soil will hold a lot more moisture that a quality potting mix. Your plant roots need a steady supply of both oxygen and water. They can go without one or the other but not for very long. If the soil they’re growing in is saturated, there will be no room for the oxygen. If it is left wet for too long, the plant roots will begin to rot and your soil will start to smell. For plants to remain healthy, water must move through the soil, making it damp but not waterlogged.

You also don’t want all the water to run right through the mix and out the drainage holes in your pot. A potting mix that dries out too quickly has you watering more regularly. The ideal soil mix drains freely but also retains some moisture. In most cases it is a quality potting mix for pots and the garden soil for the garden.