How to Stop Killing Your Plants PART 3: Soil

For those keeping track, this is Part 3 in the blog post series: How to Stop Killing Your Plants!

If you are a seasoned plant enthusiast, you know that choosing the right soil is crucial for the health and growth of your plants. However, for beginners, the variety of soil options available can be overwhelming. In this post, I’ll break down the basics and share some essential tips to help you choose the best soil for your plants.

Understand Your Plant's Needs

Different plants have different soil requirements. Here are the 3 common types of plants we typically carry:

  • Succulents and Cacti: These plants need well-draining soil to prevent root rot. Look for a soil mix labeled specifically for cacti and succulents, which often includes sand or perlite.

  • Tropical Houseplants/Aroids: Most houseplants prefer a general-purpose potting mix*. Ensure it has good drainage and contains organic matter to retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. *Potting mix should not be confused with "garden soil" - never use garden soil for containers - it is strictly for in-ground use!

  • Hoya: The best soil for Hoya plants is well-draining, rich in nutrients, and provides good aeration for the roots. In my experience the best Hoya soil is a combination of good quality potting mix, orchid bark, perlite and worm castings.

If you don't know the name or type of plant you have but are pretty sure it's not a Hoya or succulent, choosing an Aroid mix is a pretty safe bet!

You can create your own custom soil blends at home with the ingredients listed above (just Google and you'll find loads of "recipes"). This is the most economical way to do it if you have several plants! If you have just a a few or simply don't want to buy a bag of each of the ingredients and mix it yourself, we offer custom-blended soil mixes for Hoya, Succulents and Aroids available in small and large bags.

Once you know what your plant wants, you can provide the appropriate soil which is the starting place for a happy plant!

Know When to Change Your Soil

Over time, soil in containers can become compacted and depleted of nutrients. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to replace the soil every year. You don't always need to increase the pot size when you repot but if your plant has roots coming out the bottom of the pot it's probably time to choose a pot one size larger than the one it's currently in. 

If your plant has been happy for awhile and starts declining suddenly, yet you haven't changed the watering schedule, its location, might consider changing the soil. Sometimes the plant has been in the same soil for awhile before it came to live with you and it has used up all the nutrients in the soil. Repotting in fresh soil will usually give them a boost!

I hope this has helped demystify choosing soil and deciding when to repot! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll reply or, if you're local, stop in the shop and we can chat!

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