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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:09 pm
Location: va

Difference between potting soil & potting mix?

Hello everyone!

I am relatively new to all types of gardening but hope to try herbs in containers.

Can someone tell me the difference between potting soil & potting mix?

Is one better than the other? What would be best for growing herbs in containers?

Do you have a preference?

Thanks to all!

Jackie in VA :D

Senior Member
Posts: 184
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:17 pm

What's in a name eh! No wonder those new to gardening get confused with so many bagged composts and specialised mixtures.

Potting compost and potting mix in my experience are synonymous. Simply growing mediums made up of varying ingredients. Some will be loamless, some will be based on loam or even pure loam. The loamless may be peat based, fine bark based, and many more substances. One mix is the John Innes which is loam based with added peat and coarse sand plus some base fertiliser and lime (if required).

A general compost formulated for containers will grow your herbs but personally I like to mix my own. It is more work than buying a bag from the store but gardeners usually like messing about with soils. I would use a loam base compost or make up my own from loam or good clean garden soil - say 3 parts by bulk of loam or soil; one part peat or finely sieved leaf mould and one part small grit or gritsand. Of course mixing your own it will not be sterilised and you will have to do a little weeding. Pests or diseases are unlikely form good fertile garden soil or loam from a stack
Add a good handful of a general slow release fertiliser per bushel of own mix composts.
A bushel is a container 11x11x22 inches

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1596
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:42 am
Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

Actually, the dirt you use depends on the herb. :oops:

Some, such as lavender and rosemary prefer well-drained, almost sandy soil. Both of these plants, incidentally, really do well in big pots.

I don't actually buy potting soil/mix very often - usually I get things like (composted) horse manure and mushroom compost, mix that in with kitchen compost/leaf mold and beg for some worm castings and mix all that together with some dirt (er, clay from my yard) and throw in a little bone and bloodmeal and call that "dirt" for my plants. :lol:

Anyway - to better answer your question, I'd pick whichever is cheaper, then add other yummy things to it that plants find delicious.

I may be insulting your intelligence here but: Be sure to get pots big enough - I and many other gardeners, as total novices, fell into the idea that we could keep herbs on a sunny windowsill over our kitchen sinks - because we see that in all the home magazines and doesn't that look pretty? We laugh about it now, and I laugh every time I see those pages, suckering more novice gardeners into that cute idea.

It may work for chives and thyme, maybe oregano... for a while... but sage, rosemary, lavender, basil and the like can be 3' tall. There is a popular little Italian restaurant in this area that uses rosemary as foundation shrubs - they're easily each 6' tall and wide :shock:

Full Member
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:09 pm
Location: va

Thanks, pd & Grey!

You guys are so helpful.

And Grey, you are not insulting at all. I really appreciate the info! I have read some stuff on how certain herbs can get pretty big. I was going to grow my herbs outside in large pots and even a spot near my garden shed in the ground for some lavender.

Now just can't wait for the weather to cooperate! Right now it's raining cats and dogs and they are saying we might get a few inches of snow!!
Unbelievable! Here it is only 3 weeks from the first day of spring and NOW we get the winter weather!!

Thanks again,

Jackie :D

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