In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is more often than not emphasized in everything we do.
Even in gardening, we also factor in the convenience of the tools and equipment that we’ll use without sacrificing the growth quality of our beloved plants.
With that, you might have noticed that potting soil is commonly featured in guides relating to the potting of new plants.
Commonly used particularly for container gardens and potted houseplants, it is the soil of choice for most gardeners that are space-constrained.
And, why shouldn’t you use potting soil? Though the soil’s commercially produced, potting soil is still strong enough to help the roots anchor into their new environment.
Yet, unlike the typical garden soil, potting soil is light enough to let the plant breathe.
Thus, it’s safe to say that good potting soil will give a houseplant the best start in life.
But, the question now is, can it be used in the garden? Let’s find out below.
Can you use potting soil in the garden?
Potting soil is good to be used in the garden. The makeup of potting soil, whilst specifically tailored to container plants, contains no components that would be harmful to the local environment. The small stones, pebbles, and perlite usually found in potting soil to assist with drainage will do no damage. In addition, potting soil is usually sterile and unlikely to contain any weeds or damaging pathogens that could cause harm. However, if you are transferring an indoor plant to an outdoor garden, a little bit of the original potting soil mixed with the new soil can help the plant settle in easily to its new environment. But, you shouldn’t aim to use potting soil widely in the garden, purely because it would be unnecessary and not at all cost-effective. For large areas, you should consider the use of topsoil.
What is potting soil?
Potting soil is a commercially available soil mix specifically designed for the container plant. It is usually a mixture of organic materials, peat moss, and volcanic perlite.
The perlite serves to create spaces and air pockets in the soil that help with drainage, an important requirement in containerized plants.
Coupled with the lighter elements in the soil such as bark and peat moss, it also provides a light consistency that does not put too much pressure on the roots, which are already at risk of constriction in a pot or tub.
Benefits of using potting soil
As you can see, potting soil has specific benefits that will greatly assist in helping a potted plant thrive. Lightweight, easy draining, and packed with nutrients, it is the best choice for your container plant.
It is also sterile, which means it does not carry weeds, bacteria, or other pathogens that could be harmful.
However, whilst potting soil will help a young plant take root and flourish in a pot, it is not necessary to continue this theme outside in the garden.
For larger spaces outdoors, topsoil will do the job just as well.
What is topsoil?
Topsoil is a soil mix used for landscape gardening and planting in raised beds outdoors. It is collected from the surface of the earth – down to around 12 inches in depth – and can be used to improve the quality of the existing soil.
Because it is lifted from the top layers of soil it is usually packed with nutrients and other organic matter that has fallen to the surface.
Magnesium and potassium are usually found in high concentrations here. These elements help in ensuring that our plants grow healthy.
How to use topsoil in the garden
You will want to add a few layers of topsoil to the existing soil in your garden – usually around 2-3 inches.
Once added you need to mix it into the lower level of the soil by a couple of inches. This will be necessary to ensure that the two different consistencies of soil achieve good drainage.
Benefits of topsoil over potting soil in the garden
As stated earlier, you can use potting soil for your garden.
However, despite the various benefits that potting soil can bring to our beloved plants, there are a number of advantages that topsoil can bring over the commercially produced one.
One of the main benefits you will see between the two variants of soil is that the topsoil will provide you with more coverage at a lower price as compared to using potting soil.
Another advantage of using topsoil over the commercial potting soil is that it also provides a protective layer over the soil that helps to prevent drought.
This happens because the topsoil prevents or at leat limits the evaporation of the water in the soil. Aside from keeping the moisture in, topsoil will also help to keep in the much-needed nutrients.
Contrary to using topsoil, potting soil is lighter. Hence, this kind of soil may not provide a strong support to the root system of the plants in larger beds.
Aside from that, potting soil is also more expensive. You likely will rule it out for your garden when you compare the price to that of the standard topsoil.
Frequently asked questions about the use of potting soil
Can I use potting soil in the garden?
You could – it wouldn’t do any harm. But it will likely be cost-prohibitive. It is better to use a topsoil mix instead.
What is potting soil?
Potting soil is a mix of components – and actually contains several components such as soil, bark, peat moss, and volcanic matter that helps with drainage.
When planting in the garden, you will likely find that whilst potting soil may be fine to use, it will surely not be a cost-effective option.
By selecting good topsoil, you can introduce similarly good quality nutrients to your existing garden, but it is a much more economical solution.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.