QUESTION: What is the difference between potting soil and potting mix? Sometimes I see information online where they recommend one, and sometimes the other. Does it even matter? Yolanda W
ANSWER: Potting soil and potting mix are terms typically used interchangeably. Therefore, leaving many gardeners to believe they’re one and the same.
In fact, these two potting mediums are as different as night and day. Let’s start with discussing potting soil.
What Is Potting Soil?
Potting soil, as the name suggests, actually contains soil. There are some cases when it may not contain soil but as a general rule of thumb, it does.
Because this product does typically contain soil, it also contains a lot of other things that gardeners may not want. This can include fungus, disease, seeds for weeds and other plants, and sand.
Though it does also contain minerals, compost, and organic matter which are things many gardeners do want for their plants.
Potting soil is also heavier than potting mix because soil is heavier than other potting mediums.
What Is Potting Mix?
Now, let’s discuss what makes up a potting mix. This type of potting medium is totally sterile. It doesn’t contain any fungal or bacterial diseases because it doesn’t contain soil.
This product includes elements that help water drain away from your plant faster such as peat moss, vermiculite, coir, and other well-draining ingredients.
Potting mix may also include fertilizers to help give your plants a boost when they’re newly planted.
When Should Potting Soil or Mix Be Used?
From the list of ingredients, and the pros and cons of each product, it might lead some to believe that potting mix is the only way to go. This isn’t true.
Each of these products have their place in the garden. However, it’s important that gardeners understand where those places are to use the products correctly.
Potting mix is a great choice for any type of container garden. This will allow you more control over what your plants are exposed to.
This is important as most people container garden to have more control over their plants’ growing environment.
Potting soil is great when used for any type of inground gardening or landscaping. You can’t control what diseases your plants are exposed to when they’re planted directly into the ground.
Therefore, potting soil is a great choice for this type of growing method.
Hopefully this clears up the differences between potting soil and potting mix. Be mindful of what type of gardening you are doing to ensure you pick the right product.