DIY Potting Soil

DIY GUIDE: Making Your Own Potting Soil

Making your own potting soil is a great way to ensure that there are no nasty chemicals or fertilizers that you wish to avoid. But, it can also save you money, which is never a bad thing.

Before considering making your own potting mix it is important to understand what type of soil you need. If you are growing from seed, this may require something quite different than established plants.

Once you understand what type of soil you want to make, use the guide below to make the perfect potting soil mix for your plants.

Remember, these are just guidelines, a “part” can be whatever you want. It all depends on the volume of soil you want to make.

Basic Potting soil (for most plants):

1 part coconut coir

1 part vermiculite (or coarse sand)

2 parts sieved compost

1/2 cupworm castings or Vermicast

Soak your coconut coir, if necessary. Mix the soaked coir and vermiculite (or equivalent) in a large container. Next, add the compost and Vermicast to the mix. If you decide to add nutrients to your potting soil, this is when they should be added to the mix. A slow release organic fertilizer is recommended for this purpose.Basic Potting Soil:

Basic Seedling Potting Soil:

Seeds need a light potting soil with lots of space for roots to grow and air to circulate. This type of soil lets sunlight and warmth get to the seeds to allow germination. To make a basic seed potting mix, you will need:

  • 2 part sieved coconut coir
  • 1 part sieved compost
  • 1/2 part perlite
  • 1/2 part vermiculite

Soak the coconut coir, if necessary. Next, mix the coir and the compost together in a large container. Stir in the perlite and vermiculite.Seedling Potting Soil:

Potting soil mix for cacti and succulents:

Cacti and succulents require potting soil that provides a lot of drainage and doesn’t hold excess moisture. Survival  in the desert is all about water conservation. No other vegetation does this better than cactus.  Once you have made the basic potting soil above, add the following ingredients as follows:

  • 3 parts basic potting soil
  • 2 parts coarse sand
  • 1 part perlite

Very simply, just mix everything together evenly and thoroughly.

Tips for potting soil mixes

Tips for all potting soil mixes:

  • The coconut coir may come in a block. If so, sit the coir in water for a while and break it apart. When soaking the coconut coir, using hot water will speed up hydration.
  • These recipes have been provided by East Valley Landscapers and, as mentioned earlier, you can add a less or a more of any ingredient.  If you would prefer to replace your compost with another organic material, it’s no problem. You could instead use seaweed, bat guano, fish meal, blood meal, soybean or bone meal, or soft rock phosphate, for example.
  • If vermiculite is not available, coarse sand can be used instead.
  • For cacti and succulents, instead of coarse sand, turface or poultry grit can be used.
  • A protective particulate mask is recommended if using a lot of perlite, or any organic materials.
  • A basic soil pH tester can be purchased to ensure you soil maintains a healthy pH balance. A good potting soil should be around pH 6.5-7 for most plants.
  • As compost  breaks down over time, the volume of soil in your pots will decrease. In time, you will need to add additional potting soil to your pots.
  • Excess soil should be stored in air-tight containers to avoid any insects getting into it.