Indoor gardeners often expect a great deal from their growing media. Everyone wants budget-friendly soil that nourishes plants and is absolutely safe and long lasting. What can you use to grow healthy and beautiful indoor plants?
It’s the most obvious option. The soil in your garden probably does wonders for your outdoor plants, so there doesn’t seem to be a reason why it wouldn’t work well for windowsill and container plants. Experienced and caring gardeners regularly treat the soil with organic matter, which provides an ample supply of nutrients and minerals. Moreover, its greatest advantage is that garden soil is absolutely free and easily accessible.
So why not use it?
Well, there are two major concerns about using the soil from your garden:
- It isn’t sterile. Even the best and the most nutrient-rich soil contains pathogens, weed seeds, and pests. Outdoor conditions differ a great deal from those of your house, and you don’t have the natural predators and weather that normally help deal with these issues.
- It isn’t loose enough. Garden soil is very heavy and compacts easily around roots, resulting in poor drainage and bad air circulation. Outdoors, worms and insects help combat this problem, but it’s troublesome for indoor growing.
If you have ever started seedlings, you probably know that this kind of growing media is often recommended. Cheap and convenient, it’s incredibly popular among indoor growers and definitely has a bunch of pros.
Loamy, pH-adjusted, and enhanced with various fertilizers, peat-based mixes can make your plant thrive and look vibrant, but only for a few months. They are just not designed for growing something for more than a year. Why?
- Peat-based mixes decompose rapidly.
- They provide poor drainage.
- As a mix breaks down, its particles cover roots and deprive them of oxygen.
- It is fertile ground for building up solids and salts.
- Though easy to prevent and get rid of, green algae often covers such soil if it’s too soggy or lacks aeration.
Soilless potting mixes
These are a mix of organic and inorganic material. Because it’s sterile and doesn’t break down, gardeners can avoid many common problems, You can buy it or even make it yourself.
What are the preferred soilless potting mixes?
- Sphagnum peat moss (you can replace it with coconut coir) is lightweight, provides good drainage and air circulation, and can hold water. However, it’s quite difficult to moisten.
- Perlite has similar qualities but doesn’t retain water.
- Vermiculite is a silicate material that soaks up nutrients and water and then holds them for a long time. However, it also has a disadvantage—aeration isn’t so good.
- Coarse sand (it can be replaced with bark) strengthens drainage and air circulation but can’t retain water.
Each of these media alone isn’t sufficient to create the perfect conditions for your houseplants; however, a mix of them often contains all necessary nutrients and useful components to make your indoor garden thrive and flourish.
What nutrients can you add?
- Slow-release fertilizers are a little bit more expensive than quick ones, but they have significant advantages. They are easier to use, so even novice gardeners will be able to treat their favorite houseplants.
- Ground limestone is a natural source of calcium.
Don’t forget to consult Plantum when choosing the best growing medium for your new plant, as all species have their own unique requirements.