Best Soil for Growing Plants

Soil is an essential thing for growing plants of any kind. Soil should be of good quality to ensure that the plants you are growing are healthy and give you a good yield. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an expert, in any case, you must take care that the soil you are using for growing plants is of good quality. So what are the best soli for growing plants?

What is the best soil for growing plants? The best soil for growing plants is Sandy soil, Silt Soil, Clay Soil, and Loamy soils. The best soil suited for Flowering plants is sandy loamy soil.

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Together with making sure about the quality of the soil you must ensure also that the soil you are using is suitable for the plants that you are using the soil for. This means that different kinds of plants prefer different kinds of soil types and soil mix to grow well in.

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You can’t use the same kind of soil for all the plant types no matter how much of good quality they are. The basic kinds of soil are sandy soil, loamy soil, and clay soil. You can add compost to the soil to amend the soil and make it more productive.

Best Soil for growing plants

The three basic kinds of soil are silt soil, sandy soil, and clay soil. However loamy soil which is a mix of all these types of soil is considered optimal for growing most of the plants.

However, all plants require different kinds of soil textures for proper growth that has a particular quantity of nutrients and drainage capabilities suited for the plant. So in order to choose well let us see the kinds of soil that can suit different types of plants-

Sandy soil

Sandy soil is light textured and has a high proportion of sand and clay in it. They are warm, dry, and are slightly acidic and lack nutrients. They are quite easy to work with and have quick water drainage.

In the spring season after frosts, they get warmer than clay soils and thus help plants provide a warmer soil environment. 

During the summers they tend to dry out due to the rise in temperatures. In the rainy season, the soil texture is such that the nutrients get washed away.

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You can increase the holding capacity of the soil by adding some clay soil to the sandy soil and also you can increase the nutrient of the sandy soil by adding some compost to it. But many plants grow well in these kinds of sandy soil, some being-

  • Wormwood- These plants prefer dry and sandy soil to grow well and don’t need a very fertile soil base. Also, these plants are drought tolerant.
  • Butterfly weed- They grow well in dry sandy soil that is not very rich in nutrients. They need ample amounts of sunlight to grow well.
  • Blanket flower- These plants are the variety that prefers drought conditions and can tolerate them easily hence sandy soils are good for them. Also, the pH level of sandy soil is appropriate for them.
  • Adams needle- The roots of this plant tend to rot in the damp soil condition. They prefer sandy soils to grow well in.

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Silt Soil

This is a light and powdery soil and these soil types have good moisture retention capacity and have a high fertility rating.

The texture of the soil is such that it contains medium-sized particles which are good in holding moisture well and also gives them the advantage of being well-drained together with that.

During rains, they get washed away. We can use compost to the soil to make them better suited. If you over water these soils they can easily get waterlogged.

Hence you must choose them for growing the plants that don’t get damaged in such conditions but rather can do well in them. Some of such plants are-

  • Yellow iris– they are pond plants and are good options for growing in a pond setup. They provide beauty to the landscape where they are placed and silt soil is well suited for them.
  • Japanese iris– these plants are water-loving plants. They grow well in conditions of good water retention hence silt soil is very good for growing Japanese iris.
  • Swamp milkweed– As the name suggests these plants grow well in wet soils. Silt soil can be used to grow them quite well.

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Clay Soil

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Clay soils are heavy and are made up of at least 25 % clay. They are rich in nutrients. During the winter season, they are cold and wet and are dry during the summer season. The soil particles are very compact and hence they are able to hold in water in good amounts and drain slowly.

During the summers they take longer to warm up than other soils, drys out, and also give cracks to the soil. So you must choose wisely as to what kind of plants will go well with this soil type, some being-

  • Black-eyed Susan– this is versatile that can be grown in clay soil as well and also in loamy soils. You may need to do a few amendments to the soil to make it well-drained for this plant.
  • Goldenrod– It is a wildflower and can adapt to clay soil.
  • Bee balm– In this plant also some species grow well in clay soil.

Read How to improve clay soil for gardening

Loamy soil

Loamy soil is the soil that is preferred by most of the plants to grow in and is called a gardener’s best friend since it is easier to handle. It is a potting mix that has a good balance of silt soil, clay soil, and sandy soil with some humus in it.

The mixture is such that the negative properties of all these soils get balanced out when mixed together, hence the loamy soil becomes quite rich soil. The texture of loamy soil is such that it has good drainage, together with being high in infertility. 

If you want you can add all the three kinds of soil in equal proportion or you can also use different ratios to make the soil predominantly of a certain kind like clay or sand. This will eliminate the negative properties of the other soils and also combine the good qualities together thereby forming a great soil mix.

If you want to enhance the quality of the soil further you can also use compost to upgrade the loamy soil further. It is a very desirable potting mix that is good for most of plants.

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Difference between Loamy Soil and other soils

Loamy soil is preferred by many people over the other soils because when all the soils are mixed together to form loamy soil, they finish the negative qualities of the three soils.

Not only that they even complement each other by providing added benefits to each one of them. Let’s see how is loamy soil better in its properties-

  • It has a higher pH level than other soils- the pH level is the property that helps the plants to grow well. Loamy soil has a higher pH level than most plants which generally have a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. The high level of pH in the soil provides a good amount of acid and nutrients to grow well. Not only that, but even the earthworms and such organisms also thrive and hence ultimately adding more nutrients for the plants.
  • It has a higher calcium level than other soils- this is a great advantage that the loamy soil has over other soils because calcium content is very helpful for the good growth of the plants. Calcium is helpful in maintaining the other chemicals of the soil by maintaining a balance in them. Calcium content increases the water retention abilities of the plants therefore the soil enables the water to reach the roots. Not only enables the plants to get water well but also it is helpful to maintain a healthy supply of oxygen to the plants since the soil has a loose texture. The loose particles of the soils hold oxygen and thereby provide to the plants. Calcium availability also helps the plants to prevent damage by reducing the salt content in the soil. If the soil has too much salt content it damages the roots of the plants and hence the plant as a whole. The calcium present in the soil thereby makes it super-rich.
  • Its texture is better than other soils- the texture of the soil is such that it has the properties of all the other three soils together. It is dry as sand, soft as clay, and powdery and crumbly like silt. It has a gritty touch to it as well. Such a texture that is a combination of all the three soil types gives the soil a great capacity to retain water in it and also retain the nutrients. This property ensures that the plants are getting proper water and nutrients. Together with that the soil also has good water drainage capacity and hence prevents the rotting of roots through waterlogging. The crumbly texture is also such that the soil contains and holds air in it, thereby providing it a balance of all the food and water that it needs.

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Best Soils suited for Different kinds of plants

After having seen the kinds of soil in general, now let us see what soil types can be used for flowering plants, vegetable plants, indoor plants, and outdoor plants so that we can decide accordingly.

Best soil suited for Flowering plants

The soil that you choose for growing the plants will generally depend on the kind of flower you are growing and also on your location in America. The flower type can be any of bulbs and seeds and you will have to choose the soil accordingly.

For growing flower bulbs you can use sandy loamy soil as it provides good water retention together with being well-drained to provide water needs of the plants without causing roots to rot due to waterlogging.

You can make a potting mix of your topsoil added with compost and peat moss in equal ratios as a general potting mix and can make the additions and deductions in your potting mix ratio depending upon the different plant requirements.

Container gardening of flowers makes it easy for you to make your potting mix to help your plants to grow and thrive.

Best soil suited for Vegetable plants

It really depends on the soil type requirement of different vegetable plants that you are growing to help you choose. You can amend the soil by having different ratios of potting mix for different requirements of plants.

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It also depends on whether you are growing vegetables in containers or regular gardens or raised garden beds to decide the potting mix requirement. Ideally, for a raised bed you can use a potting mix of equal parts of topsoil and compost mixed together. 

For general gardens and containers, you must use the potting mix such that it will be well-drained and not rot the root vegetables as well as the leafy greens.

However, clay soil can be used by amending its waterlogging properties by adding sandy textures, gypsum, vermiculture, or such to make it ideal for growth. 

Read Difference between potting soil and garden soil

Best soil for Indoor plants

Indoor plants may be grown in containers or so, and you can buy good quality soil mix from the local markets or online for best results. Or you can also use the garden soil from your garden but make sure that you get rid of any bacteria that may be present in that soil.

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You must also amend the garden soil by adding peat moss, vermiculture and compost in the soil for making it rich and effective for indoor plants.

What to add to the soil to make it drain better?

Soil needs to get drained to keep the plants healthy and so that it does not get rotten due to excessive water. It is always advised to never overwater your plants as it can suffocate the roots and also may cut off the oxygen supply to the plants.

Such cases happen a lot during the rainy season. A lot of times some soil does not have proper drainage and thus needs to be taken care of.

Here are certain things you can add to your soil that will help increase their drainage capacity. It can be used for your potted plants and even for your garden as well.

Even if you have chosen the best soil for growing plants, adding these elements will only increase their life and help plants grow better and healthier.

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1. Sand

It is probably the cheapest element you will find of the finest quality in the market. You can either get it from the local nursery or even online. Adding sand to the soil will increase the drainage capacity and also help to aerate the roots for better growth.

Sand is made of very fine particles that cover the pores pretty well in the soil mixture and thus makes it easier for it to drain better.

2. Mulch

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Adding mulch to the soil is a very common process these days and a lot of gardeners have been doing it. Well, you may only know the benefit of mulching to protect the topsoil from being washed away and keep the plants intact.

On the other hand, adding mulch can also work perfectly well to let the soil drain better. It holds on to water a lot better than any other element and also slowly breaks down to protect the soil. Although the process is a bit slower but highly effective in the long run.

3. Compost

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Compost is a very important ingredient in the soil since it keeps the oil together and acts as a natural catalyst. Every soil requires organic matter for healthier growth and better drainage.

Not only this, but it also gives the plants the nutrients it needs and acts as a sponge to hold on to water and be used when needed.

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What do farmers add to the soil to enrich it?

You may have heard that farmers use organic matter or compost for their crops so that it can get the necessary nutrients without any use of fertilizers. There are multiple ingredients that any farmer would add to the crop to enrich the soil.

The most common term used for such elements is known to be Green Manure. Well, these are basically in multiple forms such as Mulch, Animal waste, and Compost.

All the above elements have proven results and work better than any unnatural ingredients such as chemical fertilizer. Mulch keeps the soil covered and also gives better drainage. Animal waster or manure has all the nutrients that your plants need.

It improves the texture of the soil, drainage capacity, and also fertility. Furthermore, Compost is a natural fertilizer that is made of food scraps, waste, weeds, and animal manure.

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Why is loam the best soil for growing plants?

You might have heard a lot of times people talking about how loamy soil is the best among all for growing healthy plants. Mostly all the plants can grow perfectly well in such soil.

However, if you have just started things can get a little tricky and may confuse you a bit. Loamy soil is known to be the best for better drainage and also letting go of excess water.

It has the perfect mixture of sand, silt, and clay. These provide aeration and let the plants breathe. You will find that the loamy soil has a fine texture and does not get soggy due to waterlogging. In fact, it drains off any excess water, especially during the rainy season.

However, there isn’t anything like the most perfect soil for a plant. Similarly, Loamy soil is great for almost all plants.

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Final Thoughts

Here we are with the list of the best soil for growing plants. It contains not only the type of soil for your pots but also for your garden as well. You can choose and pick out the right one from any online store and even get it from your nursery.

Before setting up a garden, having the right kind of knowledge about every aspect is required so that your plant is not ruined in the long run. Having one such aspect is picking out the right kind of soil. Well, loamy soil is known to be perfect in every manner.

Other than this, the soil needs to be high in nutrients and have good drainage capacity. You can either buy soil directly made for your garden or pots, or you can prepare yourself too. The process will require a lot of ingredients and will take time too but you will get what you need.

By adding natural compost and manure, your soil will stay rich in fertility and the texture will be smooth. Make sure you go through all of the above so that nothing is left behind. I hope this post helps you to select the best soil for growing plants.