Houseplants bring beauty and nature into the house, while potted plants on the deck or patio offer flexibility in growing and space. Potted plants always come with considerations, though, including quicker leaching of nutrients and drying of soil. Use the right mixture of soils in potted plants to keep them healthy and growing throughout their lifetimes.
Potting with Topsoil
Growing foundations for potted plants must offer quick drainage, room for root growth, nutrition and moisture retention. Although topsoil is a good base, it cannot offer all of these things on its own, and won't do for the long term. Start your potting with commercial topsoil rather than topsoil from the garden, as outdoor garden soil may bring weeds, fungus and pests with it.
Produce your own quality potting mix by combining 1 part commercial topsoil with 1 part organic compost or peat moss. The organic matter adds long-term nutrition and loosens the soil for aeration and growth. Organic matter also soaks up and holds moisture for long-term plant use, and will minimize drying in the soil.
Re-pot potted plants with a new batch of soil every two years, or when you see the roots outgrowing the pots. Maintain good soil health by adding organic compost to each pot every couple of months, and feed your potted plants on their required schedules. Potted plants need more frequent feedings than outdoor plants, as they have restricted access to new soil or runoff.
No amount of good soil will save a potted plant that does not get the right amount -- or type -- of light. Keep the pots in areas where the plants get their required length and intensity of lighting, with good air circulation and humidity. Use florescent lights to supplement natural lighting for indoor plants.
- Garden Action: Houseplants: Compost and Potting
- University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: Growing Indoor Plants with Success; Bodie V. Pennisi; October 13, 2009
- Aggie Horticulture: House Plants; Douglas F. Welsh and Samuel D. Cotner
- North Carolina State University: Container Vegetable Gardening; Larry Bass; March 1999