Best Soil for Indoor Plants [Top 5 Reviewed] + Best Organic Additives

Upon entering the soil section of any home & garden store, it can easily become overwhelming trying to choose between the copious amount of choices available. We’ve gone ahead a put together this list of our top picks for indoor plant soils and answered a few common questions to help you make the right choice for you!

The best soils for indoor plants usually aren’t soils at all—they’re potting mixes. We’ll talk about the difference between the two a little later on.

The 5 Best Soil Picks for Indoor Plants

[1] Our first choice is Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. This is a standard multi-purpose potting mix that is fantastic for just about any plant you’re looking to grow. Although some plants do better with specialty soils, especially for new growers that might accidentally over- or underwater, it’s really hard to go wrong with this potting mix classic.

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[2] Our second choice is Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix. This potting mix differs from the standard potting mix in that it avoids pine bark which can draw gnats into your space.

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[3] Our third choice is Burpee Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix. If you’re looking to go organic with your indoor plants, this is a great choice for you. It’s formulated for container gardening and comes pre-treated with plant food that will feed your plant for up to three months!

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[4] Our fourth choice is Espoma Organic Potting Mix. This potting mix is another excellent choice for organic gardeners. It’s not fortified with plant food the way the Burpee mix is, but it does include earthworm castings, which are a main ingredient of many nutrient-rich composts!

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[5] Our final choice is Perfect Plants Organic Potting Mix. This soil choice has also been formulated specifically for organic container planting, but where it stands apart from the other mixes is that it contains perlite. Perlite is a nonorganic soil additive that is usually used to help regular water levels in the soil and provide aeration for the plants’ roots. Perlite is a very popular hydroponic growing medium for this reason. This could be beneficial for gardeners that are growing plants that are more sensitive than average to overwatering.

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Keep in mind, there are also specialty mixes available, for example some potting mixes are formulated specifically for succulents or orchids, but we are not touching on those in this article. Each of the soils listed above can be used as-is or modified to be used with any plant that uses a specialty potting mix formula.

Best Organic Soil Additives

Organic soil additives are materials you can add to your soil or potting mix to adjust drainage abilities, add nutrients, aeration, or other properties essential to plant health. These are mainly derived from plant materials or manure that has been composted or aged. There are also options, like blood meal or bone meal, that are derived from animals as well.

[1] Our choice for compost additive is Wiggle Worm Pure Worm Castings. Worm castings are wonderful fertilizers, and just a little bit feeds your plants for quite a long time. Manure is another great organic fertilizer, but tends to be too smelly for indoor usage. Aged and composted manure smells less potent than fresh, but we’d still recommend worm castings for your best indoor organic fertilizer since they are odor-free.

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[2] If you’re looking for an additive that will retain moisture and loosen the soil, we recommend Miracle-Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss. The moss holds on tight to water in the potting mix, making sure you’re thirsty plants don’t dry out. Plus this peat moss is fortified with Miracle-Gro plant food, so you can be sure that your plants won’t go hungry either!

[3] We’d also recommend Burpee Organic Garden Coir, which is an organic additive made of coconut fibers. Coconut fibers are another awesome addition to your potting mix if you want it to retain water longer than it would normally. Coconut fibers hold water like a sponge and help improve soil aeration in the process, which is essential for avoiding root rot.

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[4] If you want to try out a less common fertilization route and use bone meal, our pick is Burpee Organic Bone Meal. Bone meal is an excellent fertilizer, because it provides three main plant nutrients: phosphorous, nitrogen, and calcium all in one. You don’t have to worry about excessive smell, like you do with other animal-based fertilizers like manure, so it will work well for indoor use. And when it comes to price, bone meal is priced comparably to other fertilizer options like store bought compost, worm castings, or aged manure.

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What is the difference between potting soil and potting mix?

The main difference between these two growing mediums is that potting soil is at least partially comprised of dirt, whereas potting mix does not contain any dirt. A growing medium labeled as soilless is a potting mix. This means that potting mix will be a sterile, non-nutritious environment for your plant, unless it is fortified with plant food. This gives you the opportunity to have full control over the care of your plant.

Potting soil definitely has its uses, but since indoor plants are already living in an artificial environment, they need the extra support they get from having specially curated care available via fortified potting mix rather than trying to make the best with unknown nutrient levels of potting soil.

There are many types of potting mixes, each varying in composition. Many popular choices are made of some combination of sphagnum, pine bark, coconut fibers, other types of composted wood, perlite, vermiculite, and pumice.

Can I use potting soil for indoor plants?

You certainly can use potting soil for indoor plants. It’s just not recommended. Having too much of any one nutrient or having the pH of your plant’s environment way off of what it needs can be deadly. If you choose to use potting soil instead of potting mix for your plants keep out for wilting leaves, yellow spots on the foliage, leaf browning, or leaf death. These can be signs of an incorrect pH level in the soil. Since of overfertilization are similar to this, but may also include a crust forming on the soil surface from where the excess fertilizer has reacted with the environment.

How do you prepare potting soil for indoor plants?

You can prepare potting soil for indoor plants by testing the pH and testing for excesses of any particular nutrients. You can get products to adjust these qualities to your needs. Make sure you research each individual plant and figure out how much water they need and their nutritional preferences. Each type of plant will have specific care needs.

From there, and this goes for both potting soils and potting mixes, you can put additives into your growing medium to fortify it with nutrients, adjust the drainage abilities, and allow for more thorough aeration of the medium. You can also create your own potting mix from scratch by buying each individual ingredient and combining in the proportions that most suit you.

To extend the life of your growing medium and provide the most optimal conditions for your plants, make sure you’re repotting annually to ensure the nutrient levels don’t get out of whack during the long-term treatment of your soil. You can also clean your soil without repotting by taking your plant and running lots of water through the entire pot.

This flushes out accumulated salts, fertilizer, and other components that could affect your plants’ growth. Also make sure to supplement your potting mix with the proper additives to ensure you don’t experience root rot or other issues that impact soil health.

Are eggshells good for indoor plants?

Eggshells can be an excellent natural alternative to commercial fertilizers, but it’s important that they are used correctly. Natural is not a safeguard from overfertilization. To use eggshells as a nutritional supplement, make sure to start by cleaning them thoroughly. This helps prevent any smell or pest invasion. Once they have been cleaned well, grind the eggshells into a powder and add the powder to the top of the soil near the base of the plant.

At this point, you can water normally, and the eggshells will absorb into the soil. Eggshells should be used sparingly, and many people recommend no more than applying them once per year.

Other natural fertilizer alternative are coffee grounds, banana peels, and homemade compost. Making your own compost is a great way to cut down on your food and paper waste going to the landfill and can save you lots of money over time. It takes a bit of commitment to keep going, so it’s not for everyone, but definitely a great option for another organic fertilizing additive.

At this point you are hopefully feeling well-prepared to go off and make you soil choice for all of your indoor plants. There are still a lot of options out there, but being familiar with the basics of what makes a good potting mix is all you need to navigate through to a good choice. Go get that soil!

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