My Soil Mixes

Version 0.0.1

Most plants will grow in pretty much anything. If you are just starting out and find it overwhelming to mix your own soil then don't. Just buy some potting soil and call it a day, it doesn't even need to be something expensive. I just used whatever was cheap and accessible for the first five or more years of my plant obsession.

This guide is for people who are ready and willing to take it a step further. It just shows how I go about mixing my soil and is meant to serve as a starting point for your own personal soil mixes. Start with my mixes and adjust them to your climate and what's available in your area. In the end you should have your own soil mixes that are fine-tuned to your location, the plants you keep and how you take care of them.

My mixes are made up of a few basic components. I have picked my components based on what's easy to find in my area and affordable. For example, I try to source my components from at most two stores. This means that I don't have to spend a whole day chasing down components just so that I can get to the fun part. The aim is not to create the perfect mix, but rather something accessible that still works well.

Components

Dirt


Dirt

This can be any kind of dirt really. A mid-line peat free potting soil works well. You can also use dirt from your garden or compost. Pick the dirt based on the plant you are mixing it for, for nutrient hungry plants go with compost, if you are unsure buy a midrange potting soil, for your rare aroid babies you can go with the fancy stuff, for everything that goes outside I mostly use dirt from the garden.

Sand


Sand

I go for play sand with no added chemicals. It's cheap and you don't need anything more.

Pine Bark (Large and Fine)

This is where I spend most of my money and it's totally worth it. I try to buy bark that's allowed for organic farming. This ensures that you get somethings that's pure and actually benefits your soil.

Large


Large pine bark

The pieces should be around 5cm in size and up.

Fine


Fine pine bark

The pieces should be between 0 and 4cm in size and should look somewhat like wood shavings with a few medium pieces in there. Stay away from mixes that don't have medium sized pieces in them. You might need to mix it yourself with 1/3 of a medium mulch and 2/3 of a really fine one.

Don't get caught up on the size, important is just that the large one has actual large pieces in there and that the fine one isn't just wood shavings.

Granulate


Granulate

Akadama is ideal here. You could also use something like expanded clay or lava rock. Just make sure the particle size is around the 2cm mark and that it ideally takes up both water and nutrients. It will cost a bit either way but you really don't need a lot of it.

I use an expanded clay that is made as a soil replacement for houseplants. Akadama is quite expensive where I live and not available at the stores I frequent.

Moss


Moss

This is probably the most expensive of the components. You can buy sphagnum moss or gather it yourself if you can find a mossy place. Almost any kind of moss that's not too compact works. Important is that you don't just use peat here, you want actual moss.

The Mixes

Aroid Mix


Aroid mix

Used for aroids (Monstera, Philidendron, etc.) and their cuttings. For small pots replace the large pine bark with fine pine bark.

Orchid Mix


Orchid mix

Bonsai Mix


Bonsai mix

Used for bonsai trees and their cuttings. Use more granulate and less pine bark if you have a wet climate or for very large pots. Use more bark and less granulate in dry climates.

You can also add some dirt to the mix for super dry climates, trees that like it wetter (Willows, etc.) or if you can't water every day.

By adding dirt the mix becomes denser and can generally hold water better. Here it's worth it to use a good quality potting soil or compost that's high in organic matter. The organic matter helps the soil hold more water. Adding dirt or compost should only be done for trees that do well with the added nutrients and you should adjust your fertilization accordingly.

Yamadori Mix


Yamadori mix

Used for freshly collected yamadori, weak trees and conifers that have had heavy rootwork done. This is an emergency mix and needs to be watered often. It's best planted in a basket or pot with meshed sides, you can also use an Air Pot or Root Pouch. Peter Chan will also use only moss in a basket but I find that if you're not around every day then this can dry out too fast. Make sure that the area directly touching the trees roots is pure moss, and the rest consists of the mix.

Cactus Mix


Cactus mix

Eucalyptus Mix


Eucalyptus mix

Used to sow and grow eucalypti in.

Ultimate Mix


Ultimate mix

Used for everything not covered by other mixes. Works especially good for houseplants and plants in large pots. For small pots you can use the fine pine bark instead of the large one.

You're Up

Don't try to chase the perfect mix. Find similar components that are easy to source. Keep it simple and slowly adjust the ratios as you observe your plants to dial it down for your climate and watering habits. Most importantly, never stop experimenting!