Potting Soil vs Garden Soil: Which Is Better?

Soil is an essential factor in growing healthy plants, so it’s vital to have good soil for your seeds. The type of soil in your flower bed in which you choose to grow your plants will determine how fast they grow and how healthy and strong they become.

When you head to the store, you’ll notice two bagged soil options: potting soil and garden soil. Each has benefits and drawbacks and provides excellent growing conditions for specific plants.

Potting Soil vs Garden SoilPin

What Are the Pros and Cons of Potting Soil vs. Garden Soil?

Potting soil is better for potted plants grown in containers, while garden soil is best for in-ground plants. Yet, there are benefits to using garden soil in container-grown plants, especially those that are outdoors.

The pros and cons of each type of soil come down to their ingredients.

Potting Soil

The name “potting soil” is a little misleading. There isn’t much soil in potting soil but a mix of different ingredients. If you look at the back of a potting soil bag, you’ll notice some of the following components:

  • Peat Moss
  • Bark
  • Perlite, or Volcanic Glass

So why isn’t there actual soil in this product? Potting soil lacks the minerals and other organic materials that make up the soil. Real soil needs to possess those nutrient-rich ingredients.

Benefits of Potting Soil

Companies that produce potting soil use steam to sterilize it and kill disease-causing microorganisms. For this reason, companies can advertise potting soil as a product that “does no harm” and lessens the chance of infections.

Potting soil ingredients also hold on to essential nutrients and water, a benefit to aeration in plant containers. Soil-free potting soil is great for indoor plants and specific plants that don’t need many nutrients.  

Drawbacks of Potting Soil

The most significant difference and disadvantage of potting soil is its price point. While you can buy garden soil at the store make it at home for free, you can’t make your own potting soil without an investment.

Potting soil is not suitable for organic gardening because of its synthetic ingredients. Also, its lack of nutrients can do more harm than good to certain plants.

Related: Does Potting Soil Go Bad?

Garden Soil

Garden soil consists of living nutrients and high-quality ingredients that create the best environment for plants. Composed of organic matter, native soil and living microorganisms, garden soil helps move air and water through seeds.

You can use the soil from your backyard to grow new plants. If you prefer to buy some at the store, you’ll find soil enriched with organic materials that benefits plant growth.

Benefits of Garden Soil

Garden soil is ideal for growing outdoor, in-ground, and container-grown plants. The compost in garden soil is organic and healthy for most plants. It may also contain weed seeds.

Gardening soil structure is dense and packs well around all types of plants, and helps them grow thick and healthy plant roots.

The soil in gardens is very renewable. After one investment, you won’t need to keep buying bags of it.

You can save leftover vegetables, fruits, and other compostable scraps and put them in your soil. Adding these ingredients will enhance your soil and add more nutrients.

Drawbacks of Garden Soil

Garden soil is for specific purposes. Its compounds create a pH value that can be either too acidic or too alkaline for particular plants – vegetable and flowering plants.

Using and maintaining garden soil often involves a lot of testing and adjusting.

The main difference between potting mixes and garden soil is its ability to cause disease. Potting soil lessens the risk because it lacks living organisms and is steam sterilized.

Garden soil, on the other hand, is all-natural organic compounds. The living organisms in it can cause disease and worsen the risk for specific plants.

Question: Is it Possible To Reuse Potting Soil?

When to Use Potting Soil or Garden Soil

Now that you know the pros and cons of potting soil and garden soil, you can determine which is best for your gardening.

If you’re starting with seedlings or growing an indoor garden, potting soil is the way to go. It doesn’t have many nutrients, but it lessens the risk for disease and packs well in small containers.

If you want to create a sprawling, organic, outdoor garden, use garden soil. You can either use the soil already in the ground (test it to ensure it has the proper nutrients) or buy garden soil with specific ingredients. The right garden soil will promote growth and longevity for your plants.

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