Best Potting Mix For Container Gardening of 2020: Top 6 Picks

Last update: May 27, 2020

To grow potted plants and vegetables, you’ll need a good potting mix/soil. It provides plants with a firm anchorage and important nutrients & minerals for plant development.

Here are my top picks for the best potting mix for container gardening:

Here are the best potting mixes for container gardening you can buy in 2020:

  • Best Overall: Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
  • Best For Moisture Retention Improvement: Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix
  • Best For Vegetable Gardens: FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix
  • Best For Orchids: Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix
  • Best For Mushroom Cultivation: Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite
  • Best For Faster Growth: Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
Best Potting Mix For Container Gardening: Top 6 Picks
Best Overall
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
    Read Our Review
    Best For Moisture Retention Improvement
    Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix
      Read Our Review
      Best For Vegetable Gardens
      FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix
        Read Our Review
        Best For Orchids
        Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix
          Read Our Review
          Best For Mushroom Cultivation
          Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite
            Read Our Review
            Best For Faster Growth
            Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
              Read Our Review

              Best Overall: Miracle-Gro Potting Mix

              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
              9.4Outstanding
              Pros
              • Grow bigger; More blooms & Richer in color
              • Provides a stable anchorage & important nutrients for plant roots
              • Feeds up to 6 months
              • For indoor and outdoor container plants
              Cons
              • Nothing to complain

              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix is a great solution for indoor and outdoor potted plants. It provides a stable anchorage and important nutrients for plant roots. It also allows good drainage and airflow for the plant to grow.

              Start with filling the pot (with a drain hole below) about ⅓ with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, placing the plant with root ball into the pot, then adding more Miracle-Gro Potting Mix up to 1 inch from the top of the pot. Press gently. Finish with watering thoroughly and letting it drain.

              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix feeds up to 6 months for outdoor plants. For indoor plants, you should repot them once a year. The plants potted with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix grow twice as big, bloom more, and have a richer color.

              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)

              Sphagnum peat moss, aged bark fines, perlite, plant food, and a moisturizer

              pH

              6.0 - 6.8

              Container Size

              16 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis

              0.21 - 0.11 - 0.16

              Highlight Features

              Feeds up to 6 months

              Grow bigger

              More blooms & Richer in color

              Verdict

              Miracle-Gro Potting Mix is an all-purpose potting mix that feeds any potted plant up to 6 months.

              Best For Moisture Retention Improvement: Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix

              Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix
              Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix
              9Outstanding
              Pros
              • Myco-Tone Water Saving Formula
              • Improve Moisture Environment
              • For indoor and outdoor container plants
              Cons
              • Not for xerophytes like stone lotus flower, cactus

              Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix is a great choice for hydrophytes and vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and flowering plants. It follows a water-saving formula called Myco-Tone, which makes the soil retain a large amount of water, improving the moisture environment.

              This is a rich soil that helps all indoor and outdoor container plans grow faster, bigger, and healthier. However, Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix maybe not suitable for xerophytes like stone lotus flower or cactus.

              Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)

              35-45% sphagnum peat moss, aged forest products, humus and/or composted rice hulls, perlite, limestone to adjust pH, earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, feather meal, & yucca extract

              pH

              6.3 - 6.8

              Container Size

              8 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis


              Highlight Features

              Improve Moisture Environment

              Verdict

              Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix with Myco-Tone Water Saving Formula is an ideal choice for hydrophytes.

              Best For Vegetable Gardens: FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix

              FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix
              FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix
              9.4Outstanding
              Pros
              • Ideal for seedlings and cuttings
              • Lightweight & well-aerated
              • Provide nutritious & healthy environment
              • Good Scent & For all indoor, outdoor potted plants
              • Comes with Pearsons Protective Gloves
              Cons
              • Higher price

              FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is a great choice for all indoor, outdoor potted plants, especially good for vegetables, and for seedlings and cuttings. It is soft, lightweight, and allows good drainage and airflow.

              The pH is adjusted around 6.3 and 6.8, ideal for vegetables. FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil contains micro-nutrients, from the best fertilizers on land to the finest sea ingredients, providing the plants with the most nutritious and healthiest environment.

              Moreover, it has a good scent, so that you can use it for the ornamental plant in your bedroom. Besides, FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil comes with Pearsons Protective Gloves to protect your hands when doing garden work. However, with all of these advantages, FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil costs a bit more than other soil.

              FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)

              Composted forest humus, sphagnum peat moss, Pacific Northwest sea-going fish emulsion, crab meal, shrimp meal, earthworm castings, sandy loam, perlite, bat guano, granite dust, Norwegian kelp, and oyster shell

              pH

              6.3 - 6.8

              Container Size

              38.5 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis


              Highlight Features

              Lightweight & well-aerated

              Good Scent

              Verdict

              FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is lightweight & well-aerated, ideal for seedlings and cuttings.

              Best For Orchids: Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix

              Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix
              Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix
              9.2Outstanding
              Pros
              • Specially formulated for orchids
              • Good drainage, air flow, and root ventilation
              • Feeds up to 12 - 18 months
              • Nutritious ingredients
              Cons
              • The soil dries out too fast, not for veggies

              Orchids like sunshine and don’t like too much water. So, Sun Bulb Special Orchid Mix is a great choice for orchids. It is specially formulated for orchids. The soil has great drainage, airflow, and root ventilation, keeping the best environment for your orchids.

              Sun Bulb Special Orchid Mix combines nutritious ingredients, such as western fir bark, hardwood charcoal, and sponge rock, which are chosen by orchid experts. It can feed your orchids up to 12 - 18 months.

              Although Sun Bulb Special Orchid Mix is ratted for all indoor and outdoor potted plans, it dries out too fast. So, the soil is not for hydrophytes and veggies.

              Sun Bulb 5002 Better-Gro Special Orchid Mix Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)

              Western fir bark, hardwood charcoal, and sponge rock

              pH

              6.3 - 6.8

              Container Size

              8 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis


              Highlight Features

              Specially formulated for orchids; Good drainage

              Air flow and root ventilation

              Feeds up to 12 - 18 months

              Verdict

              Sun Bulb Special Orchid Mix is specially formulated for healthy and long-lasting orchids.

              Best For Mushroom Cultivation: Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite

              Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite
              Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite
              9.2Outstanding
              Pros
              • Vermiculite for mushroom cultivation
              • Lightweight and supportive
              • Retains moisture and nutrients
              Cons
              • Particle size is larger

              Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite is specially formulated for mushroom cultivation. This is just pure vermiculite, which is an essential mineral for growing mushrooms, especially when you apply the PF Tek method. Moreover, the soil retains water and nutrients, improving a moisture environment for mushrooms.

              The texture of Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite is soft, lightweight, and supportive, ideal for seedlings and cuttings, storing bulbs, and of course for mushroom. The particle size is a bit larger than sand, which is great for mushrooms to grow; however, may not be ideal for other plants.

              Plantation Professional Grade Vermiculite Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)

              Vermiculite

              pH


              Container Size

              8 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis


              Highlight Features

              Vermiculite

              Lightweight and supportive

              Retains moisture and nutrients

              Verdict

              Plantation Vermiculite with vermiculite as the main ingredient is ideal for growing mushrooms.

              Best For Faster Growth: Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix

              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
              8.8Great
              Pros
              • 3X bigger plants
              • Retains 50% more water
              • Creat 90% more airflow
              • Feeds up to 6 months
              Cons
              • Some issues with mold

              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro is great for growing flowers, vegetables, and flowering plants. It is formulated for both indoor and outdoor plants; however, it is slightly better for outdoor plants. When being added water, the soil expands up to 3 times, filling your containers nicely.

              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro retains 50% more water and creates 90% more airflow than native soil. The plants would grow 3-time faster and bigger, for the highest yield. This soil can feed up to 6 months.

              However, Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro might cause you some issues with mold. Although it is harmless to humans and animals, it is quite annoying.

              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix Specifications

              Primary Ingredient(s)


              pH

              6.0 - 6.8

              Container Size

              8 Quarts

              Fertilizer Analysis


              Highlight Features

              50% more water

              90% more airflow

              Up to 6 months

              Verdict

              Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro retains 50% more water and creates 90% more airflow for 3x bigger plants.

              How To Choose The Best Potting Mixes For Container Gardening?

              A good mix offers the right amounts of airflow, water, and nutrients for container plants. To choose the best potting mix for your plants, you need to know these specs:

              - pH: A good potting mix should have pH around 6.0 to 6.8 - this is the best pH for the development of all kinds of plants.

              - Texture: Some potting mix soils drain very fast and allow good airflow, some retain very for a long time to keep the environment moist. It depends on the type of plant to choose between them. Hydrophytes are vegetables in general, such as lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and flowering plants. Xerophytes are stone lotus flower, orchids, and cactus.

              - Nutrients: A potting mix containing good nutrients helps your plants grow faster, bigger, bloom more and have a richer color. If you want to grow mushrooms, you'll need a potting mix that has vermiculite as the main ingredient. Commonly, a good potting mix can feed your plants up to 6 months.

              Which Brands Make The Best Potting Mixes For Container Gardening?

              MiracleGro

              • MiracleGro is one of the leaders in the plant food industry. They have built their worldwide brand on soils, fertilizer mixes, amendments, and other plant food products. They have different fertilizer mixes for different plants, from all-purpose, rose, to shrubs and tomatoes.
              • MiracleGro is also leading in integrating innovative technologies into their product. For example, in 2019, they introduced an indoor hydroponic planter that can be remotely controlled by a BlueTooth app. When it comes to plant food product, you can trust MiracleGro.

              Espoma

              • Espoma has a long history of making fertilizer. It was founded in 1929, in Millville, NJ. Espoma is well-known for its fertilizer for hollies and other acid-loving plants, such as camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and evergreens - the product is called Holly Tone, and it has remained its leading position since the 1940s. At present, Espoma produces more than 50 million lbs of organic fertilizer each year; and has expanded its product lines into potting soils, plant foods, and other products for plants.

              FoxFarm

              • FoxFarm is another trust-worthy brand that has made potting mixes since 1984. They are well-known for their high-quality potting mixes without the presence of soil microbes. Their potting mixes also have a pleasant scent for indoor ornamental plants. Moreover, they provide customers with information and customer services to help them achieve the best yield.
              • However, with all of these advantages, FoxFarm's potting mixes tend to have a higher price than its competitors. For me, this extra cost is really worth it. At present, they have become an internationally recognized company. If you are finding the best potting mixes for your container plants, FoxFarm is the to-go brand.

              FAQs

              Can you use manure in your containers?

              It is not recommended to use manure in containers. Manure takes more than a year to decompose, so it is suitable for long-term use in gardens, not for containers. For container gardening, you should use potting soil/mix.

              Can you use compost instead of potting soil?

              Compost is a great soil amendment, but cannot replace potting soil. Too much compost may burn the plants. Plus, compost does not have some nutrients and minerals that potting soil has.

              Can you use top soil for potted plants?

              Topsoil does not contain sufficient nutrients and minerals for plants, it cannot replace potting mix/soil. So it is necessary to use potting mix/soil for potted plants.

              Can you mix potting soil with garden soil?

              For containers, you should only use potting soil/mix since it is the best growing medium for pots. However, you can mix potting soil with garden soil for ground gardens and raised beds.

              Is there a difference between potting mix and potting soil?

              Potting mix and potting soil are interchangeable. In this article, I use two words with the same meaning. However, some use potting mix and potting soil for different meanings. Potting soil tends to contain more soil and dirt. Potting mix tends to contain more soil-less growing medium, such as organic nutrients.

              Conclusion

              It depends on the type of plant to choose the best potting mix/soil. I hope this article helps you chose the best potting mix for your container garden.

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