The Effect of Different Types of Potting Soil on Plant Growth


Potting soil provides the nutrients and minerals that a plant needs for proper growth. Matching the correct potting soil to the right plant can create beautiful, healthy gardens whether indoors or out. Different types of potting soil include a variety of common ingredients.


  • Humus, or mature compost, consists of decayed plant life. This dark brown or black soil holds moisture in the ground. Growing roots can easily break through this nutrient-rich soil.


  • Sand allows water to drain quickly around the plant. This is ideal for plants that fare poorly in water-logged areas, such as cacti.

Peat moss

  • Peat moss retains moisture for water-loving plants that require moist roots and a flexible potting soil that easily gives when roots push.


  • Perlite improves the ability of soil to retain moisture as well as increases soil aeration. Perlite is a common ingredient added to potting soil to encourage root growth.


  • Limestone regulates the pH of potting soil to create an ideal mix for plants that prefer acidic soil, such as azaleas and rhododendrons.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Sharat Ganapati
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