The Best Potting Soil For Indoor Plants

A well designed potting soil is ideal for growing indoor plants.

It provides the right structure for root growth and anchoring.

Holds enough water for healthy plants, while still having good drainage.

And it provides aeration, so the roots can breathe.

Our top choice is Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil Mix.

It’s good for growing most types of plants, contains nutrients to feed them while they’re growing, and contains helpful soil microbes that increase nutrient availability and uptake.

Which all adds up to impressive and healthy plant growth.

The best potting soil for indoor plants at a glance:

All links lead to Amazon, where you can find more information & customer reviews.

The Best Potting Soil For Indoor Plants: Reviews

Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil Mix

best potting mix for container gardening

This natural and organic potting soil from Fox Farms is designed for container plants. Whether you’re planting indoors or outdoors.

It’s ready to use straight from the bag. And it contains a mix of sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, perlite, bat guano, oyster shell, humic acid, and dolomite lime.

The organic ingredients break down to supply nutrients to your plants, and the product has a low NPK ratio of 0.3-0.3-0.05 (If you’re looking for a high quality organic potting mix which includes a higher quantity of fertilizer, take a look at Fox Farms Ocean Soil mix below.) This should get you through the first couple of weeks, but after that you’ll need to add fertilizer.

The humic acid increases the availability of nutrients in the soil for your plants.

And it also contains soil microbes that help your plants to grow. Amongst them, mycorrhizal fungi, that have a special symbiotic relationship with plant roots, enabling them to uptake a greater amount of nutrients. Resulting in strong and healthy growth, and an increased production of fruit and flowers.

Because most plants grow best when the soil is slightly acidic, this mix has been pH adjusted with dolomite lime to between 6.3-6.8, encouraging the maximum nutrient uptake.

Customers report great results when using it to grow all types of plants. Including flowers such as geraniums and roses. Citrus trees such as lemon trees. Houseplants such as ficus trees and pothos. And even cannabis.

It comes in a bag containing 12 dry quarts.

Pros
  • Organic and natural
  • Contains mycorrhizal fungi to increase nutrient uptake
  • Contains humic acid to increase nutrient availability in the potting soil
  • pH adjusted for ideal growing conditions
  • Good for most types of plants
  • You can use it for both indoor and outdoor container plants
Cons
  • It only provides a small amount of nutrients (some people prefer this)
 

Espoma Organic Potting Mix

Espoma

Espoma is a company with a good reputation for their large range of organic gardening products.

This potting soil is designed for all indoor container grown plants. But you can use it outside as well.

It’s made from organic materials. Containing sphagnum peat moss, perlite, alfalfa meal, feather meal, kelp meal, and earthworm castings. It also contains limestone to adjust the pH ito an ideal range for plant growth. And yucca extract to increase the penetration of nutrients and water into the root zone.

It has a fluffy and rich texture, providing good support for root growth. And it has nutrients to get your plants off to a good start.

It comes enhanced with Espoma’s proprietry Myco-tone formula. This includes 9 different species of endo and ecto-mycorrhizae to help your plants increase their uptake of nutrients and water, reduce drought stress, and promote healthy root growth. This enables you to use up to 30% less water than most other soils.

Which is important to take note of, because it touches on the main complaint about this potting soil.

Some customers report that it retains water too easily. So you have to be careful to water correctly. You can also mix in some perlite if you find this to be a problem.

It comes in an easily resealable 8 quart bag, which you can buy in multiples for greater value.

Pros
  • 100% Organic
  • Contains nutrients from the organic matter
  • Contains ecto and endo-mycorrhizae to increase nutrient uptake
  • Around 30% less water required than with other soils
  • Increases drought tolerance
  • Transplant survival and growth is improved
  • Good soil structure
  • Resealable bag
Cons
  • Some customers find the soil quite heavy and it doesn’t always drain easily, so you have to be careful not to over-water
 

Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix

Miracle Gro potting mix

Miracle-Gro is a household name that’s well known for its range of fertilizers. But it also does potting soils. And this one is specially formulated for indoor container plants.

The ingredients include sphagnum peat moss and perlite. With added fertilizer to feed your plants.

It also contains coconut coir that helps the mix retain water, improves aeration, and provides a good structure to support plant roots.

One common problem of commercially available potting mixes is the occasional presence of fungus gnats. With this product, Miracle-Gro have addressed that problem. It contains no compost or bark, materials known to shelter gnats.

The potting mix is designed for growing a wide variety of indoor plants. With customers reporting success when growing trees, shrubs,vegetables, succulents, and flowering plants.

It comes in 2 sizes: a 16 quart bag and a 6 quart small bag.

Pros
  • Well-respected brand
  • Good for growing a wide variety of indoor plants
  • Designed to be an indoor potting soil with no bugs
  • Contains plant food
Cons
  • Not organic
  • Some customers complain that it retains water too well, so be careful when watering not to completely saturate the soil
 

Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil Gritty Mix

Bonsai

Are you trying to grow succulents or cactus?

If so, this high quality potting mix is the one for you.

It’s professionally formulated to provide the drainage needed for cacti and succulents to grow well. While also encouraging healthy root development and maximum bloom. And it’s great for growing both desert and jungle cacti.

The ingredients include 33% pine bark fines, 33% monto clay, and 33% bonsai block (calcined clay). With a particle size of ¼ inch. The fired clay that’s used in the mix is fast draining and makes sure that you don’t have to worry about root rot.

It’s pH adjusted to around 5.5 to provide ideal growing conditions. And customers get great results with a wide variety of succulents. Including crassula, echeveria, aloe, lithops, jade plant, haworthia, snake plant (mother in law’s tongue), and many more.

And you don’t have to stop at cactus and succulents. Because any indoor plant that likes fast-draining soil will be good to grow in this gritty mix. So you can try it with citrus such as lemon trees. Or use it to start growing a palm tree.

The potting soil is made in the USA and lab tested in federally recognized laboratories to make sure it contains no pathogens that can harm your plants.

It doesn’t contain fertilizer, so you’ll have to add that yourself.

You can buy it in a number of different sized bags: 2, 4, 8, 14, 28, 56, and 112 quarts.

Pros
  • Ideal for succulents and cactus
  • Fast draining
  • Good indoor potting mix for healthy root development
  • Laboratory tested to ensure it’s free of pathogens
Cons
  • Sometimes drains too well, so you have to water more frequently
  • It’s light, so tall plants can have difficulty staying upright before roots are well established
 

All Natural Orchid Potting Mix by Perfect Plants

Perfect Plants

This premium orchid potting mix contains all-natural ingredients that encourage strong root development.

It’s made from pine bark, charcoal, coconut chips, and sponge rock. And has excellent aeration, so it won’t compact around the roots, which can lead to suffocation.

Orchids don’t need to be watered too frequently, and do best in a well-draining potting medium. This mix provides good drainage, while retaining enough moisture for root uptake and healthy growth.

It’s also good at absorbing nutrients from fertilizer. Which you’ll have to add yourself.

It comes in heavy-duty resealable bags in 3 sizes: 1 quart, 4 quarts, and 8 quarts.

The company also does a specially formulated fertilizer that’s good for orchids and all epiphytes. It’s available on Amazon as well.

Pros
  • Perfect potting soil mix for indoor orchids
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Good aeration
  • Drains well
  • Comes in a heavy-duty resealable bag for long life
Cons
  • Contains a lot of fine debris that can fall through containers with large holes
 

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Soil Bag

Ocean Forest

This product is a potting soil and a fertilizer combined in one.

It’s made from organic ingredients. With earthworm castings, fish meal, bat guano, and crab meal providing the nutrients needed for vigorous growth of your indoor plants. And it’s pH adjusted to 6.3-6.8 to help your plant achieve optimum nutrient uptake.

It also contains spaghnum moss, composted forest humus, and sandy loam. Giving it a light texture with enough structure for healthy root development. While at the same time providing good drainage.

Customers report great results growing their indoor plants. Using it for new seeds, seedlings, transplants, and propagation from cuttings.

It comes in a 12 quart bag.

Pros
  • Organic
  • Contains fertilizer
  • Everything you need to start growing in one bag
  • Adjusted for pH
  • Good structure for root development
  • Good water drainage
Cons
  • Some customers find it too chunky
 

FoxFarm Coco Loco Potting Mix

Bushdoctor

The 3rd product on our list from Fox Farms is a mix that’s based around the inclusion of coco coir in the ingredients.

Coco coir has the ability to behave like small sponges, absorbing nutrients and water, and then making them available to your plants as they need them. With the result that this potting mix is able to hold a lot of water, while also having good drainage.

It also contains perlite, bat guano, kelp meal, earthworm castings, and oyster shell. With a small amount of dolomite lime for pH adjustment.

Customers report that it’s great for starting seeds and transplanting young plants.

It comes in a 2 cubic feet (51.6 dry quarts) bag.

Pros
  • Contains nutrients
  • Holds water well, but not too much
  • Fast drainage of excess water
  • Adjusted for pH
Cons
  • Some customers complain of finding small chunks of rocky material in their bag
 

Espoma Organic African Violet Potting Mix

Espoma African Violet

The 2nd organic potting mix from Espoma on our list is specially formulated for growing African Violets. But you can also use it for other houseplants.

The ingredients include sphagnum peat moss, perlite, peat humus, and dolomite limestone. Mixed in proportions that create a light soil that’s ideal for African violets and promoting root growth. It retains moisture, but not too much, and has good aeration.

Most customers report very good results, particularly when repotting violets that were struggling in other soil.

But some find it to be a bit too heavy still, and mix it with perlite or vermiculite to get the right consistency.

It comes in a 4 quart bag with a resealable zipper.

Pros
  • Specially designed for African Violets
  • Retains moisture
  • Good aeration
  • Promotes root growth
  • Resealable zipper bag
Cons
  • A little too heavy for some people, who choose to mix in some extra perlite
 

Black Gold All Organic Potting Soil

This is an all-purpose potting soil that most indoor plants will thrive in.

It’s natural and organic and listed by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) for organic food production. Making it great for growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.

It contains Canadian sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, and aged bark compost. With horticultural grade pumice and perlite added in sufficient quantity to make sure the soil has good aeration.

Also included in the ingredients is organic fertilizer, providing a small amount of nitrogen to encourage your plants to grow. Some customers report that the soil has enough nutrients to last for several months of plant growth.

It comes in a bag containing 2 cubic feet of soil.

Pros
  • Natural and organic
  • OMRI listed for organic gardening
  • Good for growing indoor herbs, vegetables, and fruits in pots
  • Horticultural grade perlite and pumice help the soil to have good aeration
  • Includes fertilizer
Cons
  • A small minority of customers complain of the soil developing mold and containing bugs
 

Organic Potting Mix by Perfect Plants for All Plant Types

Perfect Plants

This organic potting mix is great for growing pot plants indoors and outdoors, especially fruit and vegetables.

It contains perlite, coconut coir, peat moss, earthworm castings, and composted pine bark. With lime added to adjust the soil to an ideal pH. It also contains endomycorrhizae to help increase root nutrient uptake and plant yield.

The blend of ingredients enhance the soil as they break down, providing nutrients for growth, and encouraging soil microbe activity.

The end result is a healthy soil with good composition, structure, and aeration. Providing all the necessary ingredients for your indoor houseplants to succeed.

The resealable package contains 8 quarts.

Pros
  • Organic
  • Provides nutrients for plant growth
  • Contains coco coir to retain moisture
  • Drains easily
  • Contains mycorrhizal fungi
  • pH adjusted
Cons
  • Some customers complain that the smell is strong
 

Choosing The Best Potting Soil For Houseplants

green houseplants in potting mix

One of the most important factors in the successful growth of your plants is choosing the right soil for them to grow in.

Topsoil from your garden is rarely a good choice. It contains unwanted bugs, seeds, and pathogens. And it’s often too heavy for container plants, leading to suffocation.

Instead, it’s a good idea to buy a potting soil that’s specifically designed for the job.

The best soil for indoor plants will provide the following factors:

  • A good structure for root growth and anchoring.
  • Ability to hold water—but not too much that the roots become soggy and root rot sets in. So drainage is important as well.
  • Aeration—compacted soil prevents the roots from taking up oxygen and water. Good aeration promotes healthy root growth.
  • Opportunity for nutrient uptake at the right pH.

The best potting soils use ingredients that provide the requirements above. Let’s take a further look at the sorts of materials to look out for.

Soil Builders

Canadian sphagnum peat moss

Canadian sphagnum peat moss

Sphagnum

A common ingredient in potting soil, sphagnum gives it aeration, structure, and helps with water retention.

It’s acidic, so it’s great for growing plants that love acidic conditions. In most potting soil, lime is added to adjust the pH closer to neutral, leaving a slightly acidic soil that most plants can grow in.

You can get spaghnum in 2 different types:

Sphagnum peat moss – dead and decayed material that’s harvested from the bottom of sphagnum bogs.

Dried sphagnum moss – This is harvested while it’s still live, and then dried. It’s sometimes chopped for easy mixing. Or used intact in long grey, green, or brown fibers.

Coconut Coir

This is the natural fibre found on the outside of coconut husks.

It’s become popular in potting soil for its ability to hold water and nutrients, making them easily available to plant roots. As it doesn’t clump together, it provides easy irrigation and root penetration.

It also has a pH that’s close to neutral, so it’s less acidic than peat moss.

Materials For Aeration & Drainage

Vermiculite

Vermiculite

Coco Coir and sphagnum are both valued for the structure, drainage, and aeration they provide. But it often helps to add some additional materials to good potting soil to improve aeration and drainage further.

In particular, this is useful for plants that thrive in porous, well-draining soils, such as succulents and cacti.

There are many materials you can add to improve soil that’s holding too much water. Here are some of the most common:

Perlite

Perlite is another very common ingredient in many of the best potting soil brands.

It’s a lightweight, volcanic glass that improves drainage and aeration by preventing soil compaction.

It also traps water and nutrients in the nooks and crannies of its surface area. Making them available to plant roots after the excess water in the soil has drained.

It’s a particularly good choice for rooting cuttings. Or for any plants that prefer quick-drying soil mixes, such as cacti and succulents.

Pumice

This volcanic rock is a great addition for improving soil stability, drainage, and aeration.

It’s good for plants that like excellent drainage. And adding a third of pumice or perlite to potting soil makes it almost impossible to over-water.

Like perlite above, it’s porous and can retain a small amount of moisture and nutrients.

Vermiculite

Made from super-heating mica, vermiculite has an advantage over perlite and pumice in that it holds more moisture and for longer. But it provides slightly less aeration than perlite.

It’s a great choice for growing plants that do well in more water-retentive potting soil. And because of its water and nutrient retention it’s a good addition to a seed-starter medium.

Wood Chips & Bark

Wood chips are good for aeration and absorption.

Bark provides aeration. But the wax it contains repels water.

Calcined Clay

Calcined clay is a popular ingredient. The small particles help to improve the drainage of potting soil. While also absorbing moisture.

It’s good for plants that need well-draining soil.

Sand

A cheap way of assisting soil drainage, but it won’t absorb any water. Wet soil drains quickly when it contains enough coarse grain sand. But it won’t work well if the grain is too fine, as it can reduce aeration.

Added Fertilizer

Fertilizer

Not all gardeners like having fertilizer added to their potting soil. Preferring to take care of it separately themselves.

But, many of the top potting soils provide everything you need to start growing, including nutrients.

Whether you choose one with or without fertilizer, eventually you’ll have to start adding some yourself if you want your plants to continue to grow well.

The 3 primary nutrients that your plants use the most are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Or NPK for short.

They also need the secondary nutrients calcium, sulfur, and magnesium. And a number of trace elements.

These are either added to potting soil as organic fertilizer or synthetic fertilizer.

Synthetic fertilizer consists of man-made chemicals such as potassium sulfate and ammonium phosphate. These are cheap and effective for growing houseplants.

Organic fertilizer includes natural ingredients such as bat guano, kelp meal, crab meal, feather meal, and earthworm castings. These breakdown in the soil to slowly release their nutrients.

In addition, potting soil with organic fertilizer added sometimes has extra beneficial soil microbes included to increase the biological activity and nutrient availability of the soil. As well as mycorrhizal fungi to improve your plant’s nutrient uptake.

Organic fertilizer creates better quality soil for the longterm. But if this isn’t important to you, then synthetic fertilizer will do the job at less cost.

Conclusion

Indoor gardening is a great way to brighten up your home. But whether it’s flowers for your bedroom, air-purifying plants for your living room, or edibles for your kitchen, potted plant’s need the right medium to grow.

So, what is the best potting soil for indoor plants?

Our recommended choice is Fox Farm Happy Frog. It’s an organic potting soil mix that drains well and is good for growing most types of plants indoors. It also contains a small amount of nutrients to give them a good start.

But if you need the best soil for potted plants of a particular type such as succulents, cacti, African violets, or orchids, then consider getting one of the specially designed products in our list above.

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