The Difference Between Potting Soil And Potting Mix – And You Thought That They Are The Same, Didn’t You?

Some time ago, I was writing about the difference between potting and garden soil. The subject was rather simple and easy to explain, but today, I’m lifting things by the notch. The difference between potting soil and potting mix had to be explained because people consider them to be the same.

However, as you will see, they are not identical. It is essential for every gardener and vegetable grower to know what to do, and by following this article, you will.


The Difference Between Potting Soil And Potting Mix – And You Thought That They Are The Same, Didn’t You?

What’s The Difference In The First Place?

The Difference Between Potting Soil and Potting Mix

To be honest, it is difficult to write another article, without repeating too much stuff. Things aren’t any easier since there are such small differences between these two that it is no wonder that they got mixed up all the time.

But, since I promised to explain things, here’s that promise fulfilled.

The main difference between potting soil and the mix is that the first contains smaller or more substantial quantity of soil. Potting mix mustn’t have any of such and is made exclusively of other ingredients. Of course, I’ll explain each in more detail in a jiffy.

Potting Soil, Where And Why To Use It?

potting soil

It is entirely natural and understanding that each company which makes and/or sells this growing medium wants to make a profit. I can’t blame them for that. However, I can blame some of them for making instructions and labels blurry for the purpose.

These blends should include organic matter. By some orientation, if the price is higher, it should be better, with more humus and compost than dirt. Still, you should carefully read the label, and see what it contains. If there is no label, don’t buy it, no matter how cheap it may be.

Fertilizer is optional, and I have seen both kinds, but since (I hope) it has organic matter, it should serve as a short-term solution for fertilizing and feeding the plant.

Potting soil is by rule almost always worse in quality than potting mix. This is because a certain percent of the blend is made of ordinary dirt from the garden. However, it doesn’t mean that you should always pass on buying those.

Since it is cheap, potting soil is a fantastic choice for raised beds and large containers where you will grow plants which are overall resistant. Take horseradish for example. It is robust and resilient, so filling those barrels I mentioned with potting soil is more than enough.

Every potting soil contains small particles of dirt. These are highly susceptible to compacting, especially when water is introduced. Because of that, this growing medium is not recommended when starting seeds or growing tender plants which need proper aeration and water drainage.

So Then, I Should Always Buy A Potting Mix?

Potting mix

Well, yes and no. In general, it is still better to buy this variety of blend, it is also almost always more expensive, due to more quality ingredients. If you must use it in large scale, it can cost you pretty much.

Potting mixes is where some of those “robbing” companies are looking to take a few dollars more. The label might say “potting mix”, and there could be some dirt as well. Therefore, again, READ THE LABELS!

As for the ingredients, I have a small favor to ask. Some manufacturers include peat moss when making the potting mix. Although this is an excellent ingredient for moist retention, extended usage of it endangered ecosystems in Canada where it comes from. Instead, opt for those which are featuring coconut coir

It is perhaps an even better solution, and it won’t cripple a vital part of our planet.

Other items which can be listed on the label are tree bark, hummus, straw, etc. Of course, there are some additives which are not organic, so be careful about water retaining crystals. If you wish to improve this feature of the mix, take one completely organic, and add perlite.

These mixtures are great when fluffiness of the soil is needed. It doesn’t get compact in time, so you can feature it when seeds are started. Simply, the stems will penetrate the ground faster and much more comfortable.

Bottom Line

When everything is taken into consideration, this subject is not troublesome. The difference between potting soil and potting mix is only the presence or the absence of the actual soil. However, you have to be extremely careful not to get tricked.

If you are unsure, take the bag in your hand. If it is heavy, it means that there is soil inside, and if possible, avoid it. On the other side, if it is fluff, it is probably better regarding quality. This medium will serve your needs better.

If you have some experience or advice on this matter, feel free to use the comment section below.

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