Growing your own herb garden is easy, even for beginners.
But to get the best results you need the right potting soil.
Our top choice is Espoma Potting Soil Mix. It’s 100% organic. And it has a light and fluffy texture that encourages root development and provides easy drainage.
The best potting soil for herbs at a glance:
- Espoma Organic Potting Mix
- Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- Burpee Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix
- FoxFarm Ocean Forest Soil Bag
- Michigan Peat Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil
All links lead to Amazon, where you can find more information & customer reviews.
The Best Potting Soil For Herbs: Reviews
Espoma Organic Potting Mix
Espoma is a company that’s developed an excellent reputation for its line of organic gardening products.
This organic potting mix is a great choice for growing your herbs in pots and containers, whether indoors or outdoors.
The main ingredients it contains are sphagnum peat moss and perlite. This gives the potting mix the sort of light and fluffy texture that you’re ideally looking for. With good drainage, and a structure that allows healthy root development and firm anchorage.
It also contains organic fertilizer to help your herbs start to grow. This comes in the form of feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, and earthworm castings, that release nutrients into the soil as they break down over time.
A small amount of limestone has also been added to make the pH of the soil only slightly acidic. Creating conditions that the majority of herbs will grow well in.
To help your herbs increase their nutrient uptake and grow to their full potential it contains Espoma’s proprietary Myco-tone formula. This consists of 9 species of endo and ectomycorrhizae. These fungi have a special relationship with the roots of your herb plants, enabling them to take up a greater quantity of water, oxygen, and nutrients.
And the yucca extract it contains acts as an organic wetting agent, helping water and nutrients to move through the soil into the root zone.
Because of these helpful additions, the company claims that you need to use 30% less water than with other soils.
Which is an important detail to bear in mind. Because a complaint that a small minority of customers have is that the soil retains too much water for their liking. If you find this to be the case you can always add some extra perlite to improve the drainage further.
If you have any potting mix leftover after you’ve planted your herbs, then you can also use this product for growing vegetables, flowers, houseplants, shrubs, and fruit trees.
The 40 lbs bag contains 2 cubic feet of the mix.
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
Miracle-Gro all-purpose potting mix is another great option for growing your container herbs. And you can also use it for flowers, houseplants, and vegetables.
The main ingredients are Canadian sphagnum moss, composted softwood bark, and perlite. Which create a light soil with good aeration and drainage.
It also contains synthetic fertilizer, providing enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to fertilize your herb plants for up to 6 months. This is a lot more fertilizer than the other options on our list, that only contain enough to get your plants started. The NPK ratio is 21-7-14.
This is a benefit if you don’t want the hassle of adding fertilizer yourself. But some people who are a bit more hands-on prefer potting soil without much fertilizer so they can manage it themselves.
A wetting agent is also included in the mix to help it easily absorb water.
It comes in a good value bag containing 1 cubic foot.
Burpee Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix
This high-quality organic potting mix is OMRI listed (Organic Materials Review Institute) as a product that’s suitable for organic gardening.
It’s a great choice for growing herbs in containers, as well as being useful for raised bed gardening of any other plants you’re growing.
The main ingredient in the mix is coco coir. This absorbs moisture in the soil and makes it available to plant roots. While at the same time allowing excess to easily drain.
It also contains compost and perlite. And a small amount of organic slow-release fertilizer, that gradually releases its nutrients feeding your herbs for up to 3 months. After that, you’ll need to add fertilizer of your own.
The pH of the potting mix is around 6.5, which is suitable for growing most herbs to their full potential.
It comes in an 8-quart bag.
FoxFarm Ocean Forest Soil Bag
This product by Fox Farms consists of high-quality potting soil, with a healthy amount of organic fertilizer added into the mix.
The main ingredients giving it its structure are sphagnum peat moss, sandy loam, and composted forest humus. This gives it a light texture, with a good structure for root growth and anchoring. As well as efficient drainage.
Earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal, and crab meal make up the organic fertilizer portion of the mix. These break down to release all the nutrients your herbs need for healthy growth.
The potting soil is also pH adjusted to around 6.3-6.8. Providing good conditions for herb growth.
You can buy it in a bag containing 12 dry quarts. And it’s also available in larger sizes.
Michigan Peat Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil
This potting soil contains a blend of sphagnum peat moss and perlite to provide its structure. With a small amount of dolomite lime added to adjust the pH into an ideal range.
It includes both fast and slow-release synthetic fertilizers to get your herbs started and to continue fertilizing as they grow.
It’s ideal to use in containers both indoors and outdoors.
Customers report successfully growing herbs and vegetables from seed using this potting soil. With fast and impressive growth.
It comes in a 30 lbs bag containing 40 dry quarts.
How To Choose The Best Potting Soil For Growing Herbs
When growing herbs in containers it’s very important to use the right type of soil.
A big mistake that many people make is to think that they can just fill their pots and containers with topsoil from their garden.
Well, actually there’s a few. You see, although garden soil might contain all the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth, it’s also very dense and heavy.
And when placed in a pot it’s likely to compact, preventing water drainage from the soil. This prevents the roots from getting access to oxygen and nutrients, and can lead to them drowning.
Other problems include pathogens, bugs, weed seeds, and fungal spores that affect the growth of your herb garden.
So it’s best to start with new and specially mixed soil. That’s where potting soil comes in.
Most potting soil doesn’t actually contain any real soil at all. Instead, it contains a mix of ingredients that provide a good medium. The best potting soil for herbs in containers will:
- Give the soil access to nutrients, oxygen, and water
- Allow the roots to grow to their full potential
- Enable the roots to anchor and support the plant to keep it upright as it grows
What Type Of Soil Is Best For Herbs?
A good potting mix should be light and fluffy. It should enable easy growth of the roots in the spaces between the soil particles. And allow the easy passage of water and oxygen so the roots can take them up.
As a general rule of thumb, here are the most important things to look for:
- If you’re growing in pots and containers, it’s very important that the soil is lightweight with a fluffy texture.
- Good ingredients to look for include peat moss and coco coir for soil building. And perlite, vermiculite, and bark for good drainage and aeration.
- Many potting soils come with a starter charge of fertilizer added. If you’re looking to grow herbs organically then look for natural ingredients such as kelp meal, fish meal, crab meal, earthworm castings, bat guano, etc.
- Some of the best organic potting soils for herbs include soil microbes that improve nutrient availability and uptake. Leading to better growth and yield.
Adding Soil Amendments
Although a well designed potting soil will work for most herbs, not all of them like the exact same conditions.
Sometimes you might want the soil to be drier and drain faster. In that case, adding some extra perlite will improve the growing conditions.
You can also add vermiculite to help the soil drain better. But as it holds more water than perlite, it’s best for plants that like water-retentive soil.
Coarse grain sand builder’s sand is another option to add to your potting soil to improve the drainage.
Most herbs grow well in slightly acidic soil. And most good potting soil meets this requirement.
But if you need to make your soil a little more acidic try adding some ground sulfur, compost, or gypsum (calcium sulfate).
To make the soil more alkaline add some finely ground limestone. You can check the pH with a testing kit.
Growing Herbs In Containers
Herbs grow well in containers as long as the drainage is good enough. If your chosen container doesn’t already have drainage holes then drill some into the bottom.
Before adding the potting soil, a good tip is to place some broken pieces of pot over the drainage holes to stop the soil from falling through.
Some herbs are best suited to having their own pot. Whereas others will do well when grouped together.
For example, mint is best grown on its own. It’s an invasive herb that spreads easily and can quickly overtake the pot, causing other herbs to struggle.
When grouping herbs together try to choose ones that enjoy similar growing conditions. Think about the type of soil, sunlight requirement, and how much water they like.
Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and common sage, all like well-drained soil, with a mildly acidic pH. And plenty of sun exposure.
While parsley and chives make good companions in a shadier location.
How To Plant Herbs
Once you’ve selected the containers you are going to use it’s time to start filling them with your chosen potting soil.
First, fill your pots with the soil until it’s about 1 inch from the rim of the container.
If you’re transplanting or repotting established plants, first arrange them on the top of the soil to see where they will fit and what it looks like.
When you’re happy with it, use the small plastic pots they come in to make a space in the soil for the potted plant. Then take the herb plant out of the pot, planting it in the soil and covering the root ball with potting soil.
If you’re growing a new plant from seed, use your finger to push it down about a ¼ inch into the soil.
Once your herb plants are placed into the soil give them a watering to help them settle in their position. The potting soil level will usually sink a bit after you do this. So add some more potting soil if it’s necessary.
To help with perfect drainage it can be useful to support the container on some bricks, or make some pot feet using whatever comes to hand.
If you have an indoor herb garden on your window sill, it’s also a good idea to place the pots in a container that can catch the excess water that drains from the bottom.
Looking After Your Herb Garden
Potted herbs are easy to care for. But remembering a few helpful tips will make sure you get the healthiest growth and plenty of leaves for you to pick.
First, as the herbs grow, it’s useful to remove seedlings that are struggling from the area. This gives the ones that are thriving more space, nutrients, and water.
Secondly, be careful not to overwater. Using your finger you can test the soil 1-2 inches beneath the surface. If it’s dry then you should water. If it’s still moist then you can leave it and check again later in the day or the following morning.
Remember to fertilize your plants after the starter charge in the potting mix runs out. With most potting mixes this will be somewhere between 2-4 weeks. Different fertilizers will fertilize your herbs for different periods of time. Most organic fertilizers will fertilize for 2-3 months at a time, so you don’t need to add it too often.
Finally, remember to pick the leaves from your potted herb plants regularly. This actually helps them to grow more shoots and will increase your future leaf harvest.
Herbs are easy to grow in containers. Whether it’s outside on your patio. Or inside as a windowsill herb garden. And many gardeners enjoy having regular access to varieties of delicious fresh herbs such as basil, sage, rosemary, lemongrass, cilantro, marjoram, and lavender. But you need the right soil.
So, what’s the best potting soil for herbs?
Our top choice is Espoma Organic Potting Mix. It’s a high-quality mix made from natural ingredients. With a light and fluffy texture that’s ideal for container gardening. And added microbes and plant extract to increase nutrient availability and uptake. Leading to healthy and vigorous green growth.