Can You Use Garden Soil with Houseplants?

For those of us who own garden plants and houseplants, it can be tempting to use the same soil for all plants. However, are we selling ourselves short by doing this? In this article, we jump into why you may not want to use garden soil on your houseplants. Let’s go…

Can You Use Garden Soil with Houseplants?

No, it is not recommended to use garden soil with houseplants. Garden soil is far too heavy and lacks sufficient aeration, which can result in your houseplant developing root rot.

But why is this? And what should you use instead? Keep reading to find out why garden soil shouldn’t be used with houseplants, along with the exact soil recipe I use with my houseplants.

What Does Houseplant Soil Need?

  • Drainage: You don’t want a build-up of water in the pot of your houseplant. With a pool of water in the base of your mix, you can end with root rot and a dying plant
  • Aeration: Another way to increase the healthiness of your plant roots is to allow them to breath. Garden soil is very heavy, so is known to compact too tightly around the roots of your houseplant
  • Moisture retention: Although we don’t want it to hold too much water, it is still important to allow your plant to sit in moist soil that isn’t too wet
  • Nutrition: Your houseplant won’t thrive if it doesn’t have enough nutrients to feed on. It is advised to give Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorous to your plants

What is the Difference Between Garden Soil and Houseplant Soil?

Garden soil is denser than houseplant soil. In fact, it will likely be either soaking wet or completely dry. The heavy weight of the garden soil is the opposite of what a houseplant needs, which is why houseplant soil is so much lighter.

The weight of the soil is very important when it comes to oxygenation and aeration. Basically, using garden soil on your houseplant means that your plant won’t get the oxygen it needs to thrive.

There is also the chance that your garden soil is packed with weed seeds, which can germinate and takeover your plant pot. These can be a nightmare to get rid of.

Alongside the week seeds, the garden soil can also contain a number of different bugs that can harm the growth of your plant. Also, who wants even more bugs in their home? Not me!

So with garden soil being so different to what houseplants need, what soil should we give our houseplants? Let’s see…

What Type of Soil Do Houseplants need?

There are a number of available options when looking for the best soil for your houseplant. I will give you the recipe that I have had the most success with, but there are many options that you may to experiment with yourself. You can even use organic potting mix from your local garden centre.

Personally, I prefer to make my own potting mix. It saves a lot of money and means I can be confident about the exact ingredients I am giving my plants.

My Houseplant Soil Recipe:

  • Peat moss: The base of my houseplant soil mix is this organic material that effectively retains water
  • Perlite:This is added to improve the air gaps within the soil
  • Vermiculite:This is a combination of minerals that improves the retention of vital nutrients
houseplant soil

I use 3-4 parts of the peat moss, 1 part of the perlite, and 1 part of the vermiculite. I’m not too accurate with the measurements, so this is a rough guide for what works for me. It’ll be dry when you first put the mix together, so be sure to water the mix to get it primed and ready.

To make your potting mix last longer, you can fill the bottom of the pot with a drainage material, especially if the houseplant has short roots and you’re using a tall pot. Gravel or wood chips are perfect for this. You can pick up bags pretty cheap at your local garden centre.

This mix has been working for me over the last few years. I don’t change it too much with each houseplant that I own. But with that said, there are other extras you can add to make your mix even better…

What Else Should you Add?

Using just soil alone will work for most cases, but you may want to add some extras to improve the health of your houseplant.

I personally love to add worm castings to my houseplant potting mix. They may sound horrible, but these are one of the best natural fertilizers for houseplants.