To choose the best potting mix for your potted plants, you can mix up a homemade batch with several ingredients, or buy a bag at your local gardening center. A do-it-yourself (DIY) potting mix is a good idea, as you can control which ingredients will be used. This can be done using a mixture of soil or by making a mix that contains no soil. The type of mix you select should meet the requirements for the seeds or plants that are to be potted. If you buy a commercial potting mix, ask for a mix that provides proper drainage.
Your potting mix must provide the drainage for your seeds to germinate and for your plants to thrive. At the same time, you'll want to choose a potting mix that will not dry out. It must provide a proper balance of moisture and drainage.
If you are planting seeds, the seed package should state any necessary requirements for potting mixtures or soil. If you have various seeds to plant, you may need to purchase different types of mixes. Whichever potting mix you choose, be sure it is not too tight or firmly packed in the pot.
Your pot will need space for air to circulate, and some potted mixtures will not allow adequate airspace. Make sure the potting mix you use is not compressed. Next, check the pH level of your potting mix. For the plants to receive the proper nutrients, a acidic pH of 5.8 should be adequate. If you purchase your potting mixture from a store, be sure to ask if it is organic. This would help to ensure the mix does not contain harmful microbes or other contaminants that could destroy your plants.
If you prefer a homemade mix rather than a pre-made potting mixture, you might buy some peat moss to use as a base. Peat moss is good for water absorption, so it may be preferred for those who don't have the time for frequent watering. To ensure proper drainage, however, adding a mineral such as perlite should work well.