The 13 Best Potting Soils for Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Our favorite potting soil is the PittMoss Plentiful Organic Potting Mix because it’s a peat-free, all-purpose blend potting mix.

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Best Potting Soils Tout
Courtesy of The Sill

Just like with gardeners, no two gardening projects are alike. That calls for a variety of potting soils and mixes that suit each plant or gardening need.

When shopping for the best potting soil, consider how much you will need, what type of plants you're growing, and whether the mix includes peat (which isn't always harvested sustainably). Also consider whether you need fertilizer and, if so, whether you want to avoid synthetics.

To narrow down the list, we researched the best potting soils, taking into account the considerations above along with consumer ratings. We also talked with Evan Davis Santi, a horticulturalist with Urban Plantscapes LLC, and Charlie Nardozzi, a Regional Emmy Award-winning garden author, radio, and TV personality.

The PittMoss Plentiful Organic Potting Mix is our top pick for best overall potting soil because it is peat-free and organic. Plus, it can be used for a variety of gardening needs.

  • Here are the best potting soils.

Best Overall: PittMoss Plentiful Organic Potting Mix

PittMoss Plentiful Organic Potting Mix
PittMoss Plentiful Organic Potting Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This all-purpose potting mix includes recycled paper as its growing medium, allowing you to avoid peat moss, which is often harvested unsustainably.

Keep in Mind: Working with the mulch-like recycled paper may take some getting used to.

Our choice for the overall best potting soil, PittMoss' Plentiful Organic Potting Mix is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed, which means it's been independently reviewed to adhere to organic standards. It's primarily made of recycled paper products, and while paper isn't a traditional medium choice for many gardeners, you won't have to worry about this potting mix containing unsustainably harvested peat moss.

The mix is lighter in weight and isn't as dusty as some soil blends. It's also free of weeds, so you won't have to worry about unwanted plants growing in your planter. The mix contains readily available carbon to promote healthy biology for growing plants, and it requires less fertilizer and watering than other potting soils, saving you time and money.

This is an all-purpose option that can be used for vegetables, indoor plants, raised gardens, and most other types of situations that call for a typical potting soil. It can even be used for grass seeding or for starting seeds. Natural ingredients, like feather meal, are incorporated to boost nutrients.

Product Details:

  • Size: 10 quarts, 1 cubic foot, and 2 cubic feet
  • Use: All-purpose
  • Organic: Yes

Best Organic: The Sill Organic Potting Mix

The Sill Organic Potting Mix
The Sill Organic Potting Mix.

The Sill

Why You Should Get It: It contains coconut coir rather than peat moss. Coco coir has a more neutral pH level, making it a better fit for most plants when compared to the higher acidity of peat moss.

Keep in Mind: This mix is best for indoor plants, so you'll want to choose a different mix for outdoor gardening.

For the best organic potting soil mix, consider The Sill's Organic Potting Mix, which is also OMRI listed. It contains just five ingredients: compost, pine bark, coir, worm castings (droppings), and perlite to promote drainage.

This natural, organic mix is best suited for growing healthy indoor plants, so you'll want to opt for a different type of potting soil if you need to also fill outdoor planters. Choose from a 2.8-pound bag or the larger 8-pound option. The smaller of the two sizes is sufficient for potting up to two medium sized plants or three smaller plants. If you have a lot of plants to repot or if they're on the larger side, you'll want to buy the bigger bag.

Price at time of publish: $15

Product Details:

  • Size: 2.8 or 8 pounds
  • Use: Indoor plants
  • Organic: Yes

Best Indoor: Good Dirt Indoor Potting Soil Mix

Good Dirt Indoor Potting Soil Mix
Good Dirt Indoor Potting Soil Mix.

Good Dirt

Why You Should Get It: This option contains sustainably harvested, partially petrified peat moss, making it a more eco-friendly choice than other mixes on the market.

Keep in Mind: Plant food is mixed into this potting soil, so it's not as easy to customize.

Our choice for the best potting soil for indoor use, this Good Dirt potting mix is specially formulated to help indoor plants grow and is a great choice for those looking for a natural mix that's free of chemicals and GMOs. It's also free of animal products and is safe to use around pets and children.

The potting soil uses partially petrified peat moss from sustainably-harvested peat bogs to promote the soil aeration and healthy drainage levels indoor plants need. Plant food is also built into the mixture. While convenient, it may not allow for easy nutrient customization which is something to keep in mind if you're looking for that option. However, the plant food is organic and features plant probiotics that promote root health.

Price at time of publish: $17

Product Details:

  • Size: 3.8 pounds
  • Use: Indoor plants
  • Organic: Yes

Best for Raised Beds: Mountain Valley Minute Soil Expanding Coconut Coir

Minute Soil Expanding Coconut Coir
Minute Soil Expanding Coconut Coir.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The dehydrated mix is compact and easier to store than bags of potting soil.

Keep in Mind: You'll need some water on hand to rehydrate this potting soil.

Mountain Valley Seed Company's Minute Soil Expanding Coconut Coir is made of 100% non-amended coco coir, making it a great choice for gardeners looking to avoid peat moss and those wanting to add their own fertilizer.

This dehydrated mix takes up less storage room and is designed to be used as you would traditional potting soil—just rehydrate it with water before using. We chose this as the best potting soil for raised beds because you can easily place the blocks, bricks, or pellets (depending on the size you choose) right into the garden bed before rehydrating them. You could also rehydrate the potting soil in a wheelbarrow or other container first, if you prefer, to give yourself a bit more control over how much soil you use. Each block, brick, and pellet will expand by 15 times its initial size once rehydrated.

The company offers multiple sizing options, making this a convenient choice for raised beds and containers of varying depths. Coconut coir is used for soil aeration and to increase water retention to promote root health. You may also use this potting soil for starting seeds inside or as a soil for use with outdoor plants. It is OMRI listed.

Price at time of publish: $32

Product Details:

  • Size: Multiple—a wheelbarrow-sized block, bricks, and pellets from 20 to 100 millimeters in diameter
  • Use: Multiple but ideal for raised beds
  • Organic: Yes

Related: The 11 Best Compost Bins for Outdoor, Indoor, and Kitchen Countertop Use

Best Garden Soil: Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil

Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil
Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil.

Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: This option includes plant food for vegetables and flowers that lasts about two months.

Keep in Mind: The potting soil includes bone meal, so it's not the best choice for people who prefer to avoid animal byproducts.

If you're planting right into ground and your soil could use a bit of extra nutrients, the Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic Garden Soil is our top pick for the best potting soil for gardening. The mix is an all-purpose selection, meaning it's designed to be used with a variety of plants. Try it for flowers as well as fruits and vegetables that need to be grown in the ground rather than in a container.

This option is an organic, OMRI-listed pick. It contains coir along with alfalfa meal, bone meal, earthworm castings, and kelp meal to increase the nutrient content. If choosing a vegan option is important to you, keep in mind that this pick contains animal byproducts.

The mix contains enough plant food to last plants for about two months. Make sure to have additional food on hand if you're growing plants that will need a longer-lasting boost of nutrients.

Price at time of publish: $8

Product Details:

  • Size: 1.5 cubic feet
  • Use: Garden soil
  • Organic: Yes

Related: The 10 Best Garden Hoses for Watering All Your Plants

Best for Starting Seeds: Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil

Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil
Hoffman 30103 Seed Starter Soil.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This blend uses Canadian sphagnum peat moss, which is generally more sustainable than peat moss sourced from other locations.

Keep in Mind: You'll eventually need to transplant seedlings started with this soil to another type of soil as they grow.

When starting seeds, it's important to find a specialized blend of starter soil. Hoffman's Seed Starter is actually soilless, which is helpful for germinating seeds. We chose it as the best potting soil for starting seeds because it's lightweight and holds moisture well—two things that seeds need to sprout.

Keep in mind that you'll want to transplant the seedlings into another soil mix as they grow since this pick is specially formulated for germination rather than for longer-term nourishing of growing plants.

This blend contains Canadian sphagnum peat moss. Peat moss that comes from Canada tends to be a bit more sustainable, as Canada has some regulations in place around how it's harvested. This mix also has vermiculite within the mixture, which can sometimes contain a natural type of asbestos. The EPA says the risk to users of vermiculite-containing potting soil is very low, but it's something worth noting.

Price at time of publish: $21

Product Details:

  • Size: 10 quarts
  • Use: Starting seeds
  • Organic: No

Related: The 9 Best Small Greenhouse Kits You Can Assemble Yourself

Best Orchid Mix: SuperMoss Orchid Potting Bark

SuperMoss Orchid Potting Bark
SuperMoss Orchid Potting Bark.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: Unlike some mixes that feature large chips, the bark chips in this orchid mix are nicely sized, allowing you to work them around your plant's roots and inside your orchid pot.

Keep in Mind: This bark mix is specifically designed for orchids and isn't a good choice for potting other types of plants.

Orchids are gorgeous, but they can be a bit tricky to grow. You'll want to use a specially formulated potting mix if you plan to grow orchids. Traditionally, these mixes will either contain peat moss or bark.

Peat moss, in addition to being a less environmentally friendly choice, tends to hold too much water, which isn't ideal for orchids since they like to dry out between waterings. If you're someone who often has a heavy hand when watering, you'll want to avoid peat moss.

This orchid bark contains organic and sustainable bark from Douglas fir trees. It, too, is absorbent, but it also allows plenty of oxygen to reach the orchid's roots. We chose this particular orchid bark from SuperMoss because the bark chips are nicely sized and not too large, making it easy to repot your orchid as it grows.

Keep in mind that this mix is all bark, so you won't be getting a traditional soil (which is a good thing in this case).

Price at time of publish: $13

Product Details:

  • Size: 2 ounces
  • Use: Orchids
  • Organic: Yes

Related: The 8 Best Lawn Mowers to Keep Your Yard Neat and Trim

Best for Moisture Control: Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix

Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This is a great choice if you're concerned about watering too much—or not enough.

Keep in Mind: This isn't an organic product, and it does contain sphagnum peat moss.

Sometimes it can be tough to get your plant watering schedule down just right, especially if you're frequently away from home. If you're worried that your plants might be over-watered or under-watered, consider a moisture control potting mix.

This option by Miracle-Gro does contain some sphagnum peat moss along with coir. But the blend is designed with controlling moisture levels in mind. It absorbs up to one-third more moisture than traditional potting soil that doesn't contain these ingredients. That translates to plants with more ideal moisture content overall.

As an added bonus, the mix provides food for plants for as long as six months, which can help produce larger plants. Use it for indoor and outdoor containers as well as flower beds.

Price at time of publish: $7

Product Details:

  • Size: 50 quarts
  • Use: Indoor and outdoor containers
  • Organic: No

Related: The 10 Best Hammocks for Lounging, Camping, and Everything in Between

Best for Outdoor Plants: Espoma 4qt. Organic Potting Soil Mix

Espoma 4qt. Organic Potting Soil Mix
Espoma 4qt. Organic Potting Soil Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This potting soil doesn't contain any synthetic chemicals or plant foods.

Keep in Mind: This option does include sphagnum peat moss.

Those hunting for an organic option for outdoor plants will want to consider Espoma's potting mix. It's ideal for container plantings and can even be used indoors. Feel free to use it for plants that are inside during the winter months and outside once the temperatures warm up.

The company blends Myco-Tone into this potting mix, which is its version of endo and ecto mycorrhizae. (Essentially, endo and ecto mycorrhizae are biological organisms that benefit other plants.) The bottom line is that with it, this mix may help you use less water and promote healthier plant roots.

Though it contains sphagnum peat moss, which some people like to avoid because it can be harvested unsustainably, this mix also includes humus (compost) and perlite for even more nutrient-rich benefits.

Price at time of publish: $13

Product Details:

  • Size: 4 quarts
  • Use: Outdoor and indoor containers and pots
  • Organic: Yes

Best African Violet Mix: African Violet Potting Soil Mix

African Violet Potting Soil Mix
African Violet Potting Soil Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This potting soil includes worm castings as a natural food source for your African violet.

Keep in Mind: It doesn't include fertilizer, so you'll want to purchase one separately.

African violets, similar to orchids, do best with a specialized potting mix rather than an all-purpose soil. This option from Soil Sunrise is blended specifically for growing African violets, draining quickly to promote healthy, thriving plant roots and avoid rot. Worm castings provide food for the growing plant.

While it's not the cheapest option on the market, you can choose from two sizes, with the larger size being a much more economical choice if you have multiple African violets. This mix contains some peat moss along with perlite, worm castings, and lime. It does not include fertilizer, allowing you to choose which fertilizer you prefer for your African violet.

Price at time of publish: $13

Product Details:

  • Size: 4 or 8 quarts
  • Use: African violets
  • Organic: No

Best Peat-Free Soil: PittMoss Performance Nutrient Enhanced Potting Mix

PittMoss Performance Nutrient Enhanced Potting Mix
PittMoss Performance Nutrient Enhanced Potting Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This all-purpose option is full of nutrients and recycled paper but free of peat moss, making it a sustainable choice.

Keep in Mind: It's a bit more expensive than other less-sustainable options on the market.

For a totally peat-free soil, try the Performance option from PittMoss. It's developed with sustainable gardeners in mind. The soils are crafted specifically to be clean and free of weeds. Plus, the soil doesn't contain pathogenic ingredients.

PittMoss evaluates each batch to be sure the quality standards remain high and so customers know they're getting the same quality product with each order. Nutrients are plentiful in this blend, even though it's free of peat moss. Instead, the company uses recycled paper fibers and organic bark.

This is a good option for those who'd like a controlled release fertilizer (CRF) for added convenience. It may come with a slightly higher price tag, but it's a versatile soil mix that can be used indoors, outdoors, in pots, and in gardens. It's also formulated to need less water, adding to its sustainable appeal—and helping to guarantee that your plants are still alive and thriving after you return from a summer vacation.

Price at time of publish: $19

Product Details:

  • Size: 1 cubic foot
  • Use: Multiple
  • Organic: Yes

Best for Succulents and Cacti: Perfect Plants Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix

Perfect Plants Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix
Perfect Plants Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix.

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: This mix achieves the ideal balance of aeration, nutrients, and moisture for cacti and succulents. Plus, the bag is resealable for easy storage.

Keep in Mind: This mix promotes water drainage, so it's not a good choice for other types of plants that need more moisture.

Succulents and cacti aren't fans of over-watering, which makes this quick-draining potting mix a good buy. This organic option promotes ideal moisture levels for both types of plants thanks to the specially formulated mix of peat moss, composted pine bark, sand, perlite, and lime. It's also designed to create the ideal aeration levels for these types of plants and to avoid soil compaction.

As an added convenience, the bag is resealable for easier storage and to keep the mix in good condition for longer. Succulents generally run on the smaller side, so one bag may last you for quite awhile.

Price at time of publish: $10

Product Details:

  • Size: 1, 4, or 8 quarts
  • Use: Cacti and succulents
  • Organic: Yes

Best for Flowers: Proven Winners Premium All Purpose Potting Soil

Proven Winners Premium All Purpose Potting Soil
Proven Winners Premium All Purpose Potting Soil.

Home Depot

Why You Should Get It: This potting soil promotes stronger growth in flowers, making it a good choice for windy locations.

Keep in Mind: This mix is best for outdoor flowers, so you should purchase another mix for indoor plants.

The Proven Winners brand has long been a big name in growing flowers. Its soil blend includes peat moss, bark, perlite, and lime and is designed for home gardeners who enjoy planting flowers in containers, hanging planters, and garden beds.

Optimized for outdoor use, this potting soil promotes stronger plants, making it a great choice for high-wind areas. This is a medium-weight option that allows for air porosity and good drainage, which all add up to creating those strong roots. The potting mix also contains plant food that will feed flowers for up to six months, which is the entire growing season for some climates.

Price at time of publish: $19

Product Details:

  • Size: 1.5 cubic feet
  • Use: Outdoor flowers
  • Organic: No

The Bottom Line

After carefully considering many mixes, the PittMoss Plentiful is our top pick for the best potting soil. It has a peat-free blend with recycled paper for added sustainability, and its all-purpose use makes it a good choice for a variety of gardening and plant needs.

What to Know About Potting Soil Before Shopping

Quantity

Before buying potting soil, you'll need to know how much your project requires. For gardening outdoors, multiply the length, width and height of your space to calculate the cubic feet, then divide by 27 to determine cubic inches. You can use an online calculator for potted plants; simply type in your measurements for an estimate.

Soil and Mix Type

Evan Davis Santi, a horticulturalist with Urban Plantscapes LLC, says, "Most potting soil isn't really soil at all and is considerably lighter than garden soil." In fact, many potting soils available for purchase contain a "soilless" blend of ingredients.

The type of soil or potting mix you need depends on what you're planting. He notes that all-purpose blends are probably what you'll use most of the time. However, a sandy blend is going to be better for cacti and succulents while finer or lighter blends are the best potting soils for starting seeds.

Drainage

Having appropriately drained soil is key to plant health. When planting directly into the ground, consider whether the soil you have promotes drainage or retention of water. If you're not sure, you can test drainage by digging a 12- to 18-inch hole and filling it with water. Once it drains, fill it again and observe how quickly the water drains. You'll want it to drain by about 1 inch every hour.

When buying potting soil or mix, Charlie Nardozzi, a Regional Emmy Award-winning garden author, radio, and TV personality, suggests avoiding "bags that are dense and wet" since that mix is likely "too heavy for most pots."

Ingredients

Many ingredients go into potting mixes, but you'll want to keep a few specifics in mind. When possible, you may want to opt for mixes without vermiculite since it could be harmful to health. Some vermiculite can contain a natural type of asbestos, although the EPA says the risk is minimal.

Peat is another common potting mix ingredient that you'll want to try to use sparingly because of its potential impact on the environment. When buying mixes with peat, look for sustainably harvested peat or an alternative such as coconut coir that's easier on the environment. Alternatively, Canadian peat moss may be a bit more sustainable than peat moss from other locations since Canada has some regulations in place for sustainable harvesting of peat.

If possible, try to also avoid synthetic fertilizers like hydrogel. Instead, fertilize plants with compost or buy organic fertilizer.

Suggested Plant Type

Nardozzi advises gardeners to "match the potting soil mix with the plants." With seeds, he says to look for a seed-starting or germinating mix because these mixes have "been milled so the mix is light and easy for seeds to grow in."

Outdoor containers and transplanted seedlings should have "a potting mix with compost added for [holding] extra water and nutrients."

Nardozzi says houseplants can use a more "general potting mix." However, he notes that growing cacti or African Violets requires a specialized mix.

Your Questions, Answered

Is potting soil reusable?

Potting soil is reusable with a bit of effort. For instance, if you observe insects, you'll want to remove them before reusing the soil. Nardozzi advises composting the soil if the plants that had been growing in it were diseased or infested with insects.

Does potting soil expire?

Santi and Nardozzi both agree that potting soil doesn't expire. However, Nardozzi adds that if the soil has gotten wet, it will be compacted and less effective, so you'll need to "fluff it up again before using." Santi adds that "you will need to reactivate the blend by adding water and nutrients." Adding compost would be a good option to reactivate the soil.

How much potting soil should you put in your planter?

When filling pots or planters, Nardozzi says to fill containers to 2 to 3 inches below the pot rim. He also advises to "wet the potting soil before filling the container because it will settle otherwise, and you'll have to add more later."

Who We Are

This article was written by Brittany VanDerBill, a freelance lifestyle and travel writer whose work has been published with several Dotdash Meredith brands. To create this list, she researched various types of potting soil products with high ratings and contacted two gardening experts: Evan Davis Santi, a horticulturalist with Urban Plantscapes LLC and Charlie Nardozzi, a Regional Emmy Award-winning garden author, radio, and TV personality,

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