How to Make Your Own Potting Soil

Homemade potting soil is easy to make and better than the bagged stuff.

July 30, 2019


Give your plants all the nutrients they need by making your own potting soil.

Photo by: GettyImages/agrobacter


Give your plants all the nutrients they need by making your own potting soil.

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Sure, commercially bagged potting soil is easy to use. Just shovel it in a pot, stick in your plant and you’re done. But everything’s better homemade, including potting soil. You can mix up own blend that will make your plants healthier and more beautiful for many seasons to come.

See, commercially bagged potting soil is made primarily of peat moss. Some bagged potting soil is enhanced with fertilizer, too. Your plant gets a quick kick at the start and looks great for a season. But the peat decomposes, fast, and the fertilizer gets used up, fast. You’re left with a pot of poor-draining, low-nutrient, rotting peat after just one year. Peat moss has a place in potting soil, just not as the main ingredient.

Making your own potting soil may sound like a ton of work, but it ends up being a time-saver because your plants will be healthier and easier to care for when they have good dirt. You won’t have to repot your plants every year if you use good DIY potting mix to begin with. Cook up your own potting soil in a wheelbarrow or garden cart. Make big batches and set them aside to use later, or share with your plant-loving pals.

Basic Blend

This is an all-purpose mix that’s easy to make, affordable and good for most plants.


  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part compost
  • 1 part garden soil (aka, plain dirt)
  • 1 part peat moss or coir

Optional, for extra nutrients

A handful of each:

  • Kelp meal
  • Rock phosphate
  • Blood meal
  • Garden lime

Pro Tip: Put a garden screen over a cart and sift the compost and garden soil before using it to remove any large particles.

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Potting Soil for Annuals

This one is chockfull of nutrients so your annuals can crank out flowers without extra feeding.


  • 1 part composted chicken manure
  • 1 part worm casings
  • 1 part composted bark
  • 1 part expanded shale, hydroponic grow rock or pumice*
  • 1 part coarse river sand

The worm casings and chicken manure will feed your plants throughout the season, and the pine bark decomposes slowly, keeping soil fertile so you won’t have to pour fertilizer on your plants all season.

Potting Soil for Tropical Plants

This soil mix packs a ton of nutrients and is the right pH for tropicals, who generally like well-drained, acidic soil packed with organic matter.


First, combine:

  • 2 parts composted bark
  • 2 parts pure pine bark
  • 1 part rice hulls*
  • One handful of charcoal pellets

Then, in a second container, mix up:

  • 3 parts of the above mixture
  • 1 part peat moss or coir
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part calcined clay*
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Potting Soil for Succulents

This soil is fast-draining. Use it for cacti, too.


  • 5 parts perlite or pumice
  • 4 parts bagged potting soil
  • 1 part coarse sand

For best results, put gravel or aquarium rocks on top of the soil to protect the crowns of the plants from rotting. The stone keeps water from gathering around the base of the plant.

*Remember, you can get the weirder ingredients, like rice hulls and calcine clay, online.

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