Planting has seen many changes over the past few years, from potting in just plain soil to planting in leca.Today I’ll be doing a brief overview on the difference between garden soil & potting mix. I’ll also mention two local options available in Mauritius & where to find them.
What is soil?
A direct definition from ‘Soil Science Society of America – soil – (i) The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.
Soil is important to the plant for these following reasons:
Support – Helps keep the plant upright
Nutrition – Provides the plant with necessary nutrition, minerals & organic matter
Water & Air -Roots absorb both water and air, so the soil needs to have both. If the soil is too compact, it can lack sufficient air, causing root rot. If it has too much air it can leave the plant without enough water.
What is potting soil/mix?
A soil-less medium (as its devoid of minerals & microbes) for the growth of indoor or outdoor plants in planters or pots. Potting soil is usually perfectly formulated to suit your plants growing needs.
Below are two local potting mixes that I recommend:
Before you buy – Use this checklist
- What am I needing this soil for? Newly potted plants / amending / repotting?
- Is this soil suitable for the plants I want to put in it? Different plants have different soil requirements e.g. Alocasia vs. Cacti.
- Is it sustainable sourced?
- Do I need a mix that contains fertiliser?
- How much am I willing to spend? Can I buy several components seperately to make my own – it may be cheaper and just as good.
- Which pot will I be using?
How to make your own enriched potting mix:
This mix is suitable for most plants. Potting soil should be rich in organic matter but free draining. Adjust the measurements below to suit the plant you’re wishing to pot.
- 2 Kgs Potting soil
- 1 cup Perlite
- 1kg Coarse sand
- 2kg compost / peat moss or manure.
(Adjust to your quantity needs)
How to Test Drainage
As mentioned above, potting mixes need to have good drainage, and this is easy to test.
1. Take your pot with potting mix and submerge it in a bucket of water for 1 minute.
2. Remove the pot.
3. Check how quickly the water flows out the bottom. If the water drains immediately, the mix has good drainage. If it takes more than 20 seconds, you will need to amend your mix.
Visit the Directory to find out where to buy plants, pots & soil, in Mauritius.