What to use for potting soil ?

plantkiller_il_5(5)June 7, 2014

There have been various comments about up-potting ,or get that baby out of the ground and into a pot and
wait till fall to plant it.

What do you like for potting soil ?

Purchased potting soil ? no
Garden soil mixed with small pine bark mulch
" " " " sand
crushed glass........ha what ?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

a cactus mix would be great.. look at some to get the idea ...

or a promix type media.. cut half and half with mini bark chunks...

the idea.. is full and complete drainage .. with little or no retention of excess ...

cut glass might work ...

the flip side of the coin is... the roots need air.. as much as water.. and the courser the media.. the more air ...

i saw that other post.. does what i suggest.. compare to why they want to get it out of the ground.. less water.. more air?? ...

its akin to why we dont amend a planting hole with peaty type stuff ... drainage.. not retention ...


    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ken , I have a cactus garden , I know what you mean.
I've seen a lot of your comments about drainage.
went out today to check newly planted P.pungens 'skyline'
wet,wet,wet.....I pulled it out.
I must have ruined that spot last year prepping with chipper
shredder pile stuff. then adding vermiculite...for drainage
ha......I should dig out a bunch and add bags of top soil and sand .

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

See Container forum about Al's 5-1-1 mix. Ken is right about drainage. Very important.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 6:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

If you're keeping it in a pot for just this season don't think too much about it.

Just get a bag of potting soil from the store and be done. They dry out quicker than you'd expect. The key is getting a tall enough pot and putting several inches of potting media on the bottom before putting the plant in there. That is where the problem lies with moisture, just need to elevate the roots above that area.

If this is longer term see the other posts.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 7:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I agree with the other posters above.

If you are just keeping a tree in a container for the rest of this season, then simply use a quality bagged potting soil. If you wish to grow trees in containers and keep them in those containers for several years then I would suggest using a bark-based soil. Bark-based soils are much better for long-term growing than bagged potting soils.

You can get much more information about how to build these soils by looking at the Garden Web link below concerning how to grow trees in containers.

Hope that helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Trees in Containers

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 7:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Personally, I don't consider any of the bagged soils widely sold to consumers to be of much quality. An easy & cheap lightweight mix is 40/40/20 perlite, vermiculite, peat/coir. Most bagged soils, even cactus mixes, have way too much organic matter.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i agree with whaas for ONE SEASON ...

but the real key... if you have a broad spectrum of plants.. in pots ... [not including your cactus] ... is to avoid the inclination to water every day.. like a newb might water annuals and perennials ...

its this inclination.. with a high retaining media ... that is the real root of the problem ...

let me offer.. that trees.. might need a SIP once a week at best ... the do not need to stand at the bar and sop up gin endlessly ...

guessing.. how often do you water your cacti??? ... i have to imagine its rather infrequently ... ... you could probably treat the tree the same ...

plain old wood chips are just fine to cut a mix with ...

the only problem i see with Al's mix... is that you end up with some significant bulk... and the individual components will cost a fortune ... FOR A FEW POTS ... and that is where i came up with just buying a bag of cacti mix....

if you foresee a need for a yard or so ... go for it ...

i would also keep a black pot in full BRIGHT shade.. trees dont like hot roots ... as compared to a cacti ... black plus sun equals hot... especially when you arent drenching it every day ...


    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 8:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The 5-1-1 mix is actually cheaper than the alternatives (when quality is taken into consideration), and it has durability, structure, and excellent aeration. All you need is a source of pine or fir bark in the proper size, 1/2 inch and less bark pieces.

All of my conifers, maples, citrus, willows, fig, olive, osage, et cetera, are planted in bark-based mixes.

For a single season, bark and perlite alone, with an added slow-release fertilizer will be just fine.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


It is actually cheap to buld 5-1-1 mix but that's for a lot of pots though for 2 or 3 cubic feet bag of Landscape Mix that is only 3 dollars something.

Finding suitable fertilizer is the hardest part right now.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 4:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Potting soils, with a few exceptions, are not national in their distribution. They are very regional in their scope and as such, it is difficult and perhaps inaccurate to make generalized assumptions about their quality. Some suppliers do a great job; others not so much. High quality potting soils ARE available - you just need to know what to look for and be persistent.

I too vote for bark-based mixes. It is what I use and I grow almost entirely in containers, primarily Japanese maples and dwarf conifers. I will say that I would NEVER include vermiculite in a potting medium, even one intended for very short term usage. Anyone familiar with the characteristics of vermiculite knows that once it absorbs water and becomes fully saturated (in a matter of just a few days, max), it collapses and compresses, impedes porosity and loses any ability to assist with drainage.

The fertilizer aspect is pretty easy, although you might have to obtain by mail order. Dyna-Gro makes an excellent line, with Foliage-Pro rated high for most woody plants although I use Liquid Grow on any of my containered plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dyna-Gro

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great follow-ups
we cover a lot of ground here, short term,long term.
Short term,I have the plant in miracle grow garden soil for trees&shrubs.They make it out of local things in different
parts of the country.
In the future when I up-pot band pots or plants shipped w/o
pots, I'll use your sugestions

Don't water cactus in the Midwest

future post on how to fix planting hole

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used to make it all from scratch from components i carefully selected at various places all over town. Now for simplicity i buy an orchid mix which is mostly fir bark and mix it with regular potting soil and or coir then add turface (calcined clay gravel) and or expanded shale. about 40 percent of mix is the shale and turface. With the coarse bark and grit in there it drains very fast and lasts for several years. Dyna grow is excellent fertilizer i used to buy it direct by the case. If your mix drains fast you have to water a lot (i water every day thoroughly) and you need to fertilize often with a diluted solution.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 1:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I've used Dyna-Gro but it gets very old watering trees in the containers during looooong summer. First thing I get home, I only want to do is quick watering then back inside and rest for a bit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Long lasting fertilizer

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 6:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL!! I do fertilize my woody containers at the start of every season with Osmocote, just like nurseries do. I just supplement with the Dyna-Gro from time to time, as I am watering other, usually more seasonal containers. And that's only a couple, three times a summer - I am not a big believer in excessive fertilizing. The Osmocote does most of the work for me.

I agree that the watering can routine gets old pretty fast if you have a lot to tend to :-)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 4:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Osmocote is fine to work into the media, but it doesn't have the micronutrients a quality fertilizer like dyna gro does. If you don't want to mix with irrigation water add micromax to container media. But do it carefully and precisely ... And conservatively.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:35PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa photo
A photo of my pseudotsuga macrocarpa
What are these trees?
What are these two conifers? One is blue/gray with...
A question for the grafters among you
Hi,with experience,I've realised the main hurdle to...
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa photo
A photo of my plant
Please identify this pine tree
Could someone please identify these pine trees? This...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™