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What kind of soil does my plant need?

By Sheridan King

Picking the right soil for your plant can be overwhelming but knowing what kind of potting medium your plant needs will help take the guesswork out of choosing. 

Firstly, potting soil is a nutrient dense soil – the pro is the nutrients it offers, the cons are that it is dense and often not well draining. 

Potting mix on the other hand is often a soilless medium that is made of a mixture of bark, perlite, peat and more. It is usually well draining and custom-made for certain plants, but it doesn’t last long and can cost more. 

Secondly, drainage. Plants don’t like having soggy feet which means they need well-draining soil. 

Anything too dense is going to hold water and rot your plant but anything too light is going to make the water pass straight through without giving your plant the chance to take a drink. 

Choose a denser soil for plants exposed to the sun and lighter for those in darker areas. 

Lastly, plants need their vitamins too. For example, some like frangipanis will thrive in salty soil while African violets prefer acidic soil. Fertilisers and soil improvers can also provide these but check the label on your potting mix to make sure it has the right mix of nutrients. 

Luckily, most common plants are fine in a standard, good quality potting mix and most brands have specific mixes for anything more specialised.

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