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Outdoor Living5 min

The Scoop on Potting Soil: Dos & Don'ts to Help Your Plants Thrive

As the winter chill fades, it’s a great time to get a jump on spring by creating your own container gardens to decorate the porch, patio or even your kitchen windowsill. Soil is the most important factor in successful container gardening. Standard garden soil is not suited for use in containers because it compacts easily and prevents proper aeration and drainage, causing plants to become stunted or even die. You must use a good potting mix instead – one that gives plants just the right combination of air, moisture, nutrition and support.

How to Choose Potting Soil

  • Do choose potting soil that is light and fluffy. It’s crucial that the soil provides enough air for growing roots to be able to breathe and not rot once you plant your container. Without enough air in the soil, plant roots usually have a hard time surviving.
  • Do look for the right ingredients. The best potting mixes don’t contain soil! Read the label on potting soil and look for quality ingredients such as aged bark (for moisture and fertilizer retention), perlite or vermiculite (to provide additional air space), lime (to neutralize acid) and sphagnum peat moss (to retain moisture and create air space).
  • Do fertilize your container plants. Some potting mixes are enhanced with a starter charge of fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil. Keep in mind that a starter charge will last only two or three waterings and slow-release fertilizer will be depleted within the first month, so you will still need to fertilize the plants regularly.
  • Don’t use garden soil, topsoil or compost, no matter how rich it looks or how well it works in your garden. When put in a container, these materials will become too dense and choke plant roots. They may also contain weed seeds or fungus spores that can grow in your container.
  • Don’t purchase potting mixes containing pesticides if you are planting vegetables or herbs.
  • Don’t forget to water container plants frequently. The limited volume of soil makes it critical to keep the root system moist at all times.

Ready to Buy a Shed for Gardening?

LP® Outdoor Building Solutions® offers a unique collection of engineered wood building products designed specifically for use in sheds and other outdoor structures. An authorized LP shed dealer can help you incorporate our quality products into a garden shed that’s the perfect place for planting, storing and more. When you’re ready to buy a shed, locate a shed dealer near you to learn more.
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