Potting Soil for Indian Gardens – Soil mix, organic and soilless

Good potting soil

Namaskar Desi Gardeners! The first issue most gardeners in India face, especially the ones living in cities or multistoried buildings is where to get good potting soil.

Should we use normal soil from the field or roadside? Is it good enough? Should I buy potting soil from nursery, which is not exactly very affordable at times.

Here from my experience I will tell you about potting soil and what the alternatives are. I will tell you about the practical issues we face with potting soil and how to overcome it.

  • Which is the best potting soil or potting mix?
  • Where can I get organic potting soil
  • What is soilless potting mix

Which is the best potting soil or potting mix? 

What is the best potting soil? The perfect one for all plants?

good potting soil
Soil needs depend on the plant

No, there is no perfect potting soil for all plants because each and every plant is different. A lemon plant will not require the same soil as kalanchoe. Succulents and cactus require more sandy soil whereas evergreen trees and plants require highly fertile soil with a lot of food.

But for beginners let us keep it simple. One of the best and safest soil combinations is a mixture of fifty percent garden soil with twenty-five percent (approximately) each of compost and cocopeat. Remember that this garden soil-compost-cocopeat combo is a safe estimate but not the ideal mix for all plants. For example, some plants like azalea need more acidic soil. That means more compost and addition of leaf compost and less garden soil. But we can say that the garden soil -compost- cocopeat combo works quite well with most plants. You can add a fistful of neem powder to make it somewhat disease resistant.

good potting soil
Amaryllis needs light, free draining soil

Now let us talk about the components of the garden soil -compost-cocopeat combo and how you can get it easily.

Garden soil – Basically normal soil from the garden, field, banks of pond and lakes etc. But the problem is that generally it is not free of diseases, insects and some other factors that can harm your plant. So the basic thing is to get good quality garden soil. Normal soil has to be cleaned off and prepared well with some ingredients to make it right. It takes time. I will try to cover that in another post.

You can ask a gardener to get good soil for you from a healthy garden. Or sometimes it is easier for us to buy a bag of soil from nursery.

If you do not have a nursery nearby you can try buying online. I use Amazon often for my garden needs and I think this potting soil is alright :Potting Soil with Fertilizer for Home Garden Plants

Another option: Soil Less Potting Mix for Plants, with Organic Fertilizer & Seaweed, Ready to Use, Fill More Pots as Light Weight & High Volume

You can buy in 5 kg, 10 kg or 20 kg. If you have a balcony garden, a 5 – 10 kg should be sufficient. Generally these types of potting soils are readymade and clean so it is less hassle for you.

Compost – When we talk of compost it means vermicompost. You can use leaf compost instead but vermicompost fulfills a different of requirements than leaf compost in my opinion. Get good quality vermicompost from your local nursery.

I can tell you from my experience that nurseries more than one kind of vermicompost of varying qualities and would usually show you if you ask. Plus there is a lot of scope to bargain.

Other choice is of course to get it online. I use this one which I think is pretty good and reasonable priced.
Cocogarden Organic Vermicompost for Plants Compost Manure Fertilizers for Plants 

Cocopeat – In India we are blessed with coconut trees and hence cocopeat is so easily available here. Cocopeat is basically the husk of the coconut ground into a fine brown powder. It is excellent for the plants. It helps as a potting medium, balances the Ph of the soil, provides nutrients and also keeps the plant healthy.

Best potting soil mix
Hibiscus needs a vermicompost-rich well drained soil along with potash for best flowering

Mostly in the nurseries we will get cocopeat in powder form. You can buy that and use it in your pots. When you buy it online, you will get in powder and brick form. The cocopeat brick is dry and can be stored easily for months. I usually buy a 5 kg brick and use as much as I need. I will tell more about cocopeat use in a different post as there is lot to share with you.

A standard combination of garden soil-compost-cocopeat could be 50% : 25% : 25%. You can use it for any plant . But do not get stuck into this. Some plants may not need cocopeat at all. Some plants grow without any garden soil.  Depending upon your need we will change it. Please see the other posts also to know more about the potting needs.

Got a question? Post it below I will surely look at it.

good potting soil
Rain lilies will grow best in clayey soil mixed with sand, cocopeat and compost

Where can I get organic potting mix?

Many people want to know where to get organic potting soil. Of course we must understand the value of organic cultivation. Actually before the chemical age started, we were always organic weren’t we? Close to nature and we knew the tricks and gifts of farming. But like me, many nature lovers have only a balcony or terrace to grow plants.

The garden soil – vermicompost – cocopeat combo is fully organic. Vermicompost and cocopeat are organic and prepared without any chemicals. The only disclaimer is that sometimes garden soil contains some insecticides mixed with it to make it healthy and clean off germs. For example, thiamexotham is used in the potting soil when it is prepared. You can ask the nursery guy about it.

Personally I don’t mind it because the quantity is too less and it protects the young plants. I try not to use pesticides later. But after all, it depends on you.

What is soilless potting mix ?

It is still difficult and a hassle for many of us to get garden soil. That is why many people prefer soilless potting mix. As the name says, the potting mix does not use garden soil.

For example, cactus or succulents thrive on soilless potting mix. It is prepared with sand, perlite etc.

However I have seen that my chrysanthemums, calendulas, marigold, aster and cosmos perform better in a soilless medium. I used 75% cocopeat and 25% vermicompost.

I use this cocopeat: Cocogarden Cocopeat for Plants

In my experience, all the saplings grew very well and healthily. This medium was equally good as the one with soil. Cocopeat keeps the soil light and fluffy and that means I do not have to rake the upper part of the soil often. Water does not stand draining well. This prevents root rot.

The only thing you have to be careful about is the watering. In the summer season the soilless potting mix can get dry faster.

good potting soil
Use natural and organic materials in your soil. The bees will be safe too!

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