How To Choose The Best Organic Potting Soil Without Wasting An Entire Day On The Internet

Let me be honest - choosing the best organic potting soil was not an easy task. I had to consider many factors to pick the winner.

Such vast competition gave me an abundance of choices, and I got caught in endless browsing on the Internet.

Online shopping might take quite some time, and because of that, I give you the best of the best; all of the products featured here are possible choices, and slight differences have determined the winner.

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What Does It Take To Be The Winner?

Surely, to see which one of the few selected is the best, some rules had to be set. Here are the key factors which I have considered, to pick the crème de la crème.

The Origin

The Origin

Call me posh, but I have only taken into consideration those soil packs which are labeled as “organic.” There are multiple reasons for doing so, and some of them are the plants which are looking and growing healthier and stronger. Also, if I suddenly decide that I wish to grow veggies in a pot, I don’t want to think that someone from my family can get a severe reaction because some of the minerals artificially created.

More than this, buying organic mixture has inspired me to try and to make it on my own. Of course, since this is not the subject of the article, I’ll write more about it later.

What’s In The Mix?

What is In The Mix

If you ask someone to tell you what does specific mixture contains, and he answers “Oh, you know… Nutrient… Stuff.” consider him as not very skilled in the art of gardening. I had to know for every of these products at least something. It is a crucial thing to remember, because of not every kind of soil suits for every plant.

Of course, there are those types of soil which are suitable for all of the plants, because their nutrient balance and the balance of NPK elements is low; those can be taken into consideration by everyone. Still, for later growth, I had to adjust.

Does It Retains The Water, Or Drains Well?

Retains The Water

Although this might seem like a question which differs from plant to plant, the majority of pot grown plants will enjoy the soil which drains more. The best course of action, of course, is the soil which leaves some moist within, while the extra water is drained. That way the plants’ needs for water are satisfied, and there are no dangers that the roots will rot or die out.

Of course, it is possible to influence this factor and to gain more drainage by infusing some sand into it, but it is rarely done since most of the pot soils are balanced in such way to fit the needs of the user.

How Big Is The Package?

How Big Is The Package

To be completely honest, this is something which is entirely up to you, and the number of plants you have. Of course, it is always better to be safe than sorry, but I didn’t exaggerate. My preference (or call it destiny) is to change potting soil twice a year. Therefore, I had to calculate how much will I need.

Of course, I was aware that it is not the end of the world if I miscalculate, since the plants won’t go anywhere (pun intended) for a few days until more of the soil arrives. The bad thing would be that I have ordered too much of it. If it remains unused for a while, it can dry out and lose its nutrient values. Therefore, in this case, less is more.

How Much Will It Cost?

How Much Will It Cost

The matter of price is an important thing to take into consideration. Naturally, the first impulse of an average man is to see what is cheapest, but this is not always the best thing to do. What I have taken into consideration is the ratio between the price and the quality. It doesn’t do me any good to buy something if it is cheap, nor to pass an excellent product, just because it is $5 more expensive.

Luckily, the market had exploded in the past decade, and online shopping had made dealers and manufacturers to gradually reduce prices because of the vast competition. This is something which benefits us, casual shoppers, and I have used it to its fullest.

The Products

So, without any further delay, here are the products which I’m concerning as worth buying. Each one of them suits the needs of the specific group, so depending what you need, you can make a choice.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

The Winner


Espoma AP1 – An absolute winner

When it comes to the best gardening supplements, few manufacturers are as good as Espoma. Their AP1 just carries on the tradition.

The absolute trump card of this product is so-called myco-tone, which is consisted of eleven different types of mycorrhizae fungi which are proven to improve the growth of the plant. Also, some worm castings are thrown into the mix. This provides the ultimate experience when it comes to growing healthy plants.

Since all of the products are organic in origin, I have thought that the smell will be a bit difficult to handle, since decomposing organic fertilizers leave a bit nasty “trail” behind. It was a lovely surprise that there was none present.

Also, the richness of manure present provides excellent water drainage. The matter of flies also troubles sometimes, but this wasn’t the case. There was no present. And there were no mushrooms as well.


The amount which I have ordered is more than enough for filling several pots which I have planned for testing. One square foot is just the measure. There was only a bit left, but nothing drastic. Also, I have average-sized pots, and nine were filled.

The price is a bit high, but concerning the overall quality, it is not overpriced. Of course, there are smaller packages at a lower cost, if you consider trying it out first. Simply put, this time the price perfectly reflects the quality.

Pros

  • Drains water well
  • Retains moist
  • Fine texture
  • No unpleasant smells
  • No flies and no mushrooms development after a while
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • Should be changed from time to time, since it can get compacted

ALTERNATIVE PICK


General Organics Ancient Forest - Not brilliant, but can do

General Organics Ancient Forest

Via Amazon.com

Price on Amazon: from $32.99

Every forest is rich with plant residue which makes the soil very fertile. General Organics follows this recipe, and their product truly brings in the whim of the forest shadows.

Rather than making their mixture, General Organics only took the actual soil from the forest, packed it, and WHAM!, you got one quality potting soil.

Even though this is a smart approach, and that soil made this way is mostly organic as possible, I tend to believe that among those 35.000 species of bacteria and 5.000 species of fungi are some who won’t do well to my plants. Simply put I’m not confident that at least one of those won’t harm my more tender vegetables.

It does drain water well, but it also tends to retain a bit more water than it was needed. I believe that this was because of the additives such as sawdust and peat. Also, the problem of bugs was present, because I have noticed flies developing after a while.


The manufacturer states that this is soil from the ancient forest of Alaska, which is right… to a limit. It has dirt from the woods in 10-25% which wasn’t enough for me, unfortunately. Still, it is good as the alternative, since its texture is lovely.

The price was a bit too high for my taste because you get only 0.5 cubic foot, which was enough for me to fill 4-5 average pots. Simply put, for that price, the amount should be at least halved.

Pros

  • Excellent mixture of nutrients and fungi
  • Great texture
  • No unpleasant smell

Cons

  • Overpriced
  • exclamation-triangle
    No precise way to determine which useful bacteria are included

UPGRADE PICK


FoxFarm FX14000 – the top of the shelf

FoxFarm FX14000

Via Amazon.com

Price on Amazon: from $11.95

For those who seek a bit more extravaganza, as I do from time to time, this upgrade pick of mine can do the trick. (Hey, it even rhymes!)

What sets this product aside from others is the use of bat guano (I told you that there would be an exotic ingredient), worm castings and a mixture of bio-nutrients, which are derived naturally, so I can say that it is organic, and as such can be used for natural growth. The majority of these nutrients are fish and crab meal, so if your plants require a lot of phosphorus, this is your soil.

Its water drainage is superb, and is only matched with its aeration; all of those organic ingredients provide a sponge-like texture which is nice and light to touch. Also, there were no bugs reported, so it is free to use straight from the package.

The amount of soil is enough to fill 5-6 2-gallon pots or buckets. Since it is primarily used for indoor appliance, it is safe to say that you can plan on this fact.

As for the price, it is among higher on the market, but since this is a high-end product, I can freely say that it is definitely worth the money.

Pros

  • Very rich in nutrients
  • High-end ingredients include bat guano and fish meal
  • Great aeration
  • Water drainage is superb
  • No bugs reported

Cons

  • The price is high, but so it the quality

BUDGET PICK


Black Gold 1302040 – cheap, but average in quality

Black Gold 1302040

Via Amazon.com

Price on Amazon: from $7.99

This guy might be small and inexpensive, but he can still swing the punch, along with the big guys.

The first thing noticeable is the package. It is rather small, but it is intended for flower pots at the end. It is sufficient for several smaller ones, and if this is the case with you, you have found your contender then.

It holds the moisture quite well, thanks to perlite which does its magic. On the other hand, this addition is not industrially made, but it is not organic as well. Therefore, it cannot be classified as “organic” product. I have taken this as a downside.

Its nutrient agents rely on organic-based fertilizers, earthworm castings and unfortunately, fungi which may develop after a while. This is a serious downside, and if you water from time to time, they will grow even faster.

As for the price, it is low, but since the overall quality of the product remains within “average,” I can freely say that this is a good deal.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Organic-based fertilizers
  • Intended for flower pots

Cons

  • Mushrooms can appear
  • exclamation-triangle
    Some of the components are not organic


Hoffman 10410 Organic Soil Mix – succulents only!

Hoffman 10410 Organic Soil Mix

Via Amazon.com

Price on Amazon: $13.61

From time to time, I wish that I have grown aloe vera or cacti. Luckily, I have managed to get my hands on one of the best mixtures for pot-grown succulent plants, and here it is!

Succulent plants need a particular treatment since the area of their origin includes deserts and arid regions. The soil needs to be exceptionally well drained because there is a high possibility that the root will rot and die out. This mixture had shown to be up for the task since it does its job wonderfully. Depending on the type of the plant, you may want to use a bit more perlite to retain more of the moist within the soil.

The package is rather small when compared to the others, but since cacti don’t require much soil around them, it will be sufficient for several average pots. Also, you can add stones at the bottom (as I have) to further improve drainage.

The price is surprisingly low, concerning that this is a narrow field upon which is concentrated. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the manufacturer was acting scanty; it is rich in nutrients and is well pH-balanced. 

Pros

  • Great drainage
  • Can be used for both jungle and desert cacti
  • Sufficient amounts for a few pots

Cons

  • Not all components are organic
  • exclamation-triangle
    Can stiff up after a while

Final word

Best Organic Potting Soil

With everything said above, it is more than apparent why Espoma AP1 beat the rest of the contenders. It has excellent ingredients, it drains well with retention of the moist at the same time, while remaining entirely affordable. The best organic potting soil is something you should seriously take into consideration if you are an avid gardener as I am.

As always, feel free to leave a comment or opinion in my comment section.

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