Can You Use Gardening Soil in Pots?

When you’re container gardening, the type of soil you use is very important. You want to make sure that the plants have what they need to thrive, and that can vary depending on the plants you choose. Some gardeners will simply use regular potting soil in their containers, but others wonder if they can use gardening soil instead. In this guide, we’ll answer that question and give you some tips on how to create a successful container garden using gardening soil!

What is the Difference Between Garden Soil and Potting Soil

Pot gardening is a type of container gardening that uses smaller pots or containers to grow plants. The plants in these pots are usually annuals, herbs, or vegetables. Container gardening is a great way to grow plants if you don’t have a lot of space. It can also be used to add color and interest to your porch or patio.

One of the most important aspects of pot gardening is choosing the right type of soil for your plants.

The type of soil you use can determine how well your plants grow, how healthy they are, and even how long they live.

What is the Difference Between Garden Soil and Potting Soil

There are two main types of soil used in gardening: garden soil and potting soil. Before you can answer the main question of this article, it’s important to understand the difference between them.

What is a Garden Soil

Garden soil is the type of soil that is found in your yard. It’s a mix of sand, clay, organic matter, and minerals. This type of soil is often referred to as topsoil. Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil that contains most of the nutrients and minerals needed by plants.

The main difference between garden soil and potting mix is that garden soil is much heavier than potting soil because of its dense structure. This makes it difficult for roots to grow through it and get the oxygen they need. Additionally, garden soils often contain weed seeds, pests, and disease which can infect your plants.

While it might seem easier to go out and take some of the garden soil to use in your pots, it’s not recommended. Unless you take the time to properly prepare it, chances are it will do more harm than good.

If you have good-quality garden soil, you may be able to use it in containers without any amendments. However, most garden soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. These amendments help improve drainage and aeration while also adding essential nutrients that plants need to thrive.

What is a Potting Soil

Potting soil is a mixture that is made up of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and sometimes composted bark, specifically designed for use in containers. Unlike garden soils, potting soils are light and airy, and they drain well. Additionally, potting soil doesn’t contain weed seeds, pests, or disease which can infect your plants. This makes them ideal for plants that are growing in pots or other types of containers.

There are a few different types of potting soil, but most of them share some common ingredients. These ingredients include green materials and brown materials. Potting soils also often contain fertilizer, which can help your plants to grow healthy and strong.

Disadvantages of Using Garden Soil in Pots

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the disadvantages of using garden soil in pots.

Density and drainage

When you pick up a handful of garden soil, you’ll notice that it’s much heavier than potting soil. This is because garden soils contain clay, which makes them dense. Dense soils don’t drain well, and they can compact easily. This can lead to a number of problems for your plants, including root rot and fungal diseases.

Density and drainage

It also means that the roots of your plants won’t be able to penetrate the soil as easily, which can lead to stunted growth.

Lack of oxygen

If improper drainage wasn’t enough, the density of garden soil can also cause another problem: a lack of oxygen. Plant roots need oxygen to grow and stay healthy, but when the soil is too dense, it can suffocate the roots. This can lead to a number of problems for your plants, including yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunted growth.

Nutritional issues

Another problem with using garden soil in pots is that it can contain high levels of nutrients that are not suitable for potted plants. For example, garden soils often contain high levels of nitrogen. This can lead to “burn” on your plants, which is when the leaves turn yellow and brown from too much of it.

Additionally, garden soils often lack the necessary micronutrients that potted plants need. These micronutrients include iron, zinc, and manganese. Without these micronutrients, your plants will not be able to grow properly.

Pests and bacteria

Garden soils often contain weed seeds, larvae, and disease which can infect your plants. These problems can be difficult to get rid of once they’ve taken hold in your garden.

Weed seeds can germinate in the pot and start crowding out your plants. Pests can burrow into the pot and start eating away at the roots of your plants. Additionally, these problems can spread quickly from plant to plant, causing widespread damage in a short period of time. [1],[2],[3],[4]

Is Potting Mix a Good Alternative to Gardening Soil?

Yes, potting mix is a much better alternative to gardening soil. It’s airy, drains well, and doesn’t contain any harmful bugs and bacteria because it’s so sterile. Additionally, potting mix is usually enriched with nutrients that are essential for potted plants.

One thing to keep in mind about potting soil is that it may dry out quickly. This means that you will need to water your plants more often than if they were growing in garden soil. However, the drainage that potting soil provides is worth the extra effort.

Another thing to remember is that potting soil can be expensive.

If you are on a budget, you may want to consider making your own potting soil.
There are a few recipes online that you can use to make your own potting soil. This can be a great way to save money and still get all of the benefits of using potting soil.

How to Make a Potting Mix by Yourself

Luckily, it is not difficult to make your own potting mix. All you need is some basic ingredients that can be easily found at your local gardening store or online. We will look at how to make soil-based and peat-based potting mixes.

Making soil-based mix

Soil-based mix is made with equal parts garden soil, sand, and perlite or vermiculite.

Making soil-based mix

This type of mix is good for plants that like to have their roots in moist conditions.

Pour a sterilized loam soil into a bucket

First, you need to pour a sterilized loam soil into a bucket. Loam soil is a type of garden soil that is rich in nutrients and ideal for planting. You can find this at your local gardening store or online. Unlike the regular garden soil, sterilized loam soil is free of any harmful bacteria or fungi.

The amount you need will depend on the size of your pot. For a small pot, you will need around one gallon of soil.

Add sphagnum peat moss

Next, you need to add sphagnum peat moss to the soil. Sphagnum peat moss is a type of moss that is commonly used as an amendment for garden soils. Peat moss helps to improve drainage and aeration in the soil, as well as increase its ability to hold water and nutrients. Peat moss is also an excellent source of organic matter, which can help to improve the structure of heavy clay soils. It is often used in potting mixes for container gardens, as it can help to lighten the mix and improve drainage.

For ideal results, It’s best to use an equal amount of loam soil and sphagnum peat moss. For example, if you have one gallon of loam soil, you will need one gallon of sphagnum peat moss.

Add perlite to the mix

Next, you need to add perlite to the mix. Perlite is a type of volcanic rock that is full of tiny holes. It can further improve drainage and aeration in the potting mix as well as improve the healthy water retention levels.

A good alternative to perlite would be vermiculite. Vermiculite is another type of volcanic rock that is full of tiny holes that serves the same purpose as perlite.

Adjust the texture of the medium to create a loose, well-drained mixture.

Finally, you need to adjust the texture of the medium to create a loose, well-drained mixture. This can be done by adding more sand or moss to the mix.

For example, if the mix is too dense, you can add more sand to loosen it up. If the mix is too sandy, you can add more moss to make it more compact.

The amount of sand or moss you need to add will depend on the texture of your soil and the type of plant you are potting. Once you have added all the ingredients, give the mix a good stir until everything is evenly combined.

Your potting mix is now ready to use! You can use this mix for any type of container garden, whether you are growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, or succulents.

Making peat-based mix

Peat-based mix is made with sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. It uses no soil of any kind and is considered sterile. Because of this, peat-based mixes are ideal for seedlings and young plants that are vulnerable to diseases.

Pour two gallons of peat moss

Start by pouring two gallons of peat moss into a wheelbarrow or other large container. If the peat moss is dry, wet it down with a hose first and let it soak for a few minutes.

Add perlite/vermiculite

Next, add two gallons of perlite to the peat moss for improved aeration. Then, you might also add one gallon of vermiculite to the mixture. Once you’ve added all three ingredients to the wheelbarrow, use a garden hoe or other tool to mix them together until they’re evenly combined.

Moisten the mix

After the ingredients are mixed together, it’s time to moisten the mix.

Use a hose to slowly add water to the mixture while you stir it.

Continue adding water until the mix is evenly moistened but not soggy.

Moisten the mix

When you’re finished, your peat-based mix should be light and fluffy – if it feels too dense, add a bit more perlite until it’s the right consistency. You can store your mix in a covered container for later use, or use it right away to fill your pots. [5]

Comparison of Gardening Soil and Potting Mix for Container Gardening

One common question that arises among gardeners is whether they can use gardening soil in pots or if they need to use a special potting mix. In this table, we compare various indicators of gardening soil and potting mix to help you make an informed decision.

Indicator Gardening Soil Potting Mix
Drainage Poor Excellent
Nutrient Content High Moderate
pH Level Varies Stable
Weight Heavy Light
Pest Control Inadequate Effective

The table compares five indicators of gardening soil and potting mix, namely drainage, nutrient content, pH level, weight, and pest control. Gardening soil typically has poor drainage, making it unsuitable for container gardening because it can lead to waterlogging and root rot. In contrast, potting mix has excellent drainage, ensuring that excess water can drain out easily.

Gardening soil is high in nutrient content, which can be beneficial for plants in a garden bed, but in a container, it can lead to over-fertilization and salt buildup. Potting mix, on the other hand, has a moderate nutrient content, allowing you to control the amount of fertilizer your plants receive.

The pH level of gardening soil can vary widely depending on its composition, whereas potting mix has a stable pH level, which is ideal for container gardening. Gardening soil is also heavier than potting mix, making it more difficult to move and handle.

Finally, gardening soil is typically inadequate in terms of pest control, whereas potting mix has ingredients like perlite, vermiculite, and sterilized compost that help prevent pests and diseases.

In summary, while gardening soil may seem like a convenient option for container gardening, it is not recommended due to its poor drainage, high nutrient content, variable pH level, heavy weight, and inadequate pest control. Instead, using a specially formulated potting mix is the best choice for healthy, thriving container plants.


How do I turn garden soil into a potting mix?

Before using garden soil as a potting mix, you will need to sterilize it. This can be done by baking it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. After sterilizing the soil, you will need to add some organic matter to it. This can be done by adding compost or peat moss. You will also need to add some perlite or vermiculite to the mix. These ingredients will help aerate the soil and improve drainage.

Can you use garden soil for indoor pots?

Gardening soil can be used for indoor pots, but it is not the ideal type of soil to use. Gardening soil is often too dense and heavy for indoor pots, which can lead to problems with drainage. If you do use gardening soil for indoor pots, make sure to mix it with an equal amount of perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.

In general, it is best to use a potting mix specifically designed for indoor containers when growing plants indoors. Potting mixes are lighter and more porous than garden soils, which makes them better suited for indoor conditions.

Is garden soil OK for containers?

Garden soil is not typically ok for containers. Garden soil can be too dense and cause water to pool on the surface of the pot, rather than seeping down to the roots. This can lead to root rot, which can kill your plants.

Can I use garden soil for potted vegetables?

The answer is…it depends. Garden soil can vary widely in quality, so it’s important to test your soil before using it in containers. The best way to do this is to take a sample of your garden soil and test it for nutrient levels, pH, and drainage.

Vegetables require a lot of nutrients, so if your garden soil is lacking in nutrients, it’s not going to be good for growing vegetables in containers. The same is true for drainage – if your garden soil doesn’t drain well, you’ll need to amend it with some sand or perlite to improve drainage.

Can I use regular garden soil in my flower pots?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors. The type of plant you’re potting, the size and material of your pot, and the drainage capabilities of your soil will all come into play. That being said, there are a few general rules of thumb to follow when deciding whether or not to use garden soil in pots.

For starters, it’s generally not a good idea to use garden soil that is high in clay. Clay soils can be very dense and compacted, which can lead to issues with drainage. If you’re potting plants that require well-drained soil (such as succulents or cacti), it’s best to steer clear of garden soils with high clay content.

Is there a difference between potting soil and gardening soil?

The main difference between potting soil and garden soil is that garden soil is heavier and contains more clay particles. This can make it difficult for roots to penetrate, and it can also hold onto water too tightly, leading to problems with drainage. Potting soil is lighter and has fewer clay particles. This makes it easier for roots to penetrate, and it also allows excess water to drain away more easily.

Another difference between potting soil and garden soil is that potting soil often contains added nutrients that plants need in order to thrive. Garden soil usually doesn’t have these added nutrients, so you may need to fertilize your plants more often if you use garden soil in pots.

So, can you use gardening soil in pots? It’s not ideal, but it can work in a pinch. If you do use gardening soil in pots, be sure to lighten it up with some sand or perlite, and be sure to fertilize your plants more often.

Which is better for plants- potting soil or gardening soil?

This is a great question with no easy answer. It depends on the plant, the pot, and your own personal preferences. Let’s break it down.

Potting soil is typically lighter and fluffier than gardening soil. It might be made of peat moss, coco coir, perlite, or vermiculite. Most potting soils also have some sort of fertilizer added in. All of these factors make potting soil great for plants that need good drainage and aeration.

Gardening soil is usually heavier and denser than potting soil. It often contains clay which helps to hold moisture in the soil- perfect for plants that like their roots nice and wet! Gardening soil often has fewer nutrients than potting soil, so you might need to add some fertilizer if you’re using it in pots.

So which is better? As we said, it depends on the plant and the pot. If you’re not sure, ask your local nursery or gardening center for advice. They can help you figure out what will work best for your plants.

How do I know if the gardening soil is good for my plants?

The best way to know if the gardening soil is good for your plants is to test it out. Get a small pot and fill it with the soil you want to use. Plant a seed in it and water it regularly. If the seed germinates and the plant grows, then the soil is probably fine to use. If not, then you might want to try something else.

Another thing to keep in mind is that different plants have different needs. Some plants like sandy soils while others prefer clay soils. It all depends on what you’re growing. Do some research on your specific plant species and find out what kind of soil they like best. Then, try to match that as closely as possible when choosing gardening soil for your pots.

Finally, remember that you can always mix and match different types of soil to create the perfect blend for your plants. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit until you find something that works well. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect potting mix for your plants.

How do you know if your plants need more potting soil?

If you notice your plants wilting, yellowing, or generally looking unhealthy, it could be a sign that they need more potting soil. Another clue is if you see roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. When roots come into contact with air, they can dry out and die, which will damage your plant.

If you’re not sure whether your plant needs more potting soil, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give them a little extra. You can always remove any excess soil from the top of the pot after watering.

What is the best soil for potted plants?

The best soil for potted plants is a light, well-draining potting mix. A good potting mix will be sandy or loamy, and have plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture. You can find potting mixes at most garden centers, or make your own by mixing equal parts sand, peat moss, and perlite.

If you’re using gardening soil in pots, you’ll probably want to amend it with some extra organic matter and maybe some sand to improve drainage. Otherwise, your plants may suffer from root rot or other problems due to poor drainage.

Soil that’s too heavy can also be a problem for potted plants. If the soil is too dense, it won’t allow air to circulate around the roots, which can lead to problems like root rot.

When it comes to potting soil, it’s important to choose the right one for your plants. A good potting mix will help your plants thrive, while a bad one can cause problems. If you’re not sure what kind of soil to use, ask at your local garden center or nursery.

Can you use Miracle Gro in ground soil in pots?

The quick answer is no, you shouldn’t. The reason being is that Miracle Gro (and other similar products) are designed to be used in gardens and lawns, not potted plants. The problem with using these products in pots is that they can cause the roots of your plants to become waterlogged and suffocate. This can lead to root rot and eventually kill your plant.

If you’re looking for a good potting mix for your plants, we recommend something that is light and airy like perlite or vermiculite. These materials will help ensure that your plant’s roots have plenty of oxygen and won’t become waterlogged. You can find them at most garden centers or online retailers.

Can I use bagged topsoil for potted plants?

Using topsoil from your garden is generally not recommended for potted plants. Topsoil can be very dense, making it difficult for roots to penetrate and absorb water and nutrients. Additionally, topsoil often contains high levels of clay, which can cause drainage problems in pots. Use garden soil as the foundation for a homemade potting mix, but never employ it exclusively in outdoor pots.

If you do choose to use topsoil from your garden, make sure to mix it with an equal amount of perlite or sand to improve drainage. You should also avoid using topsoil that has been treated with herbicides or pesticides, as these chemicals can harm your plants.

What is the difference between topsoil and garden soil?

Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, typically consisting of organic matter. Garden soil is a type of topsoil that has been amended or enriched with nutrients. So using garden soil in pots is a great way to give your plants a nutrient-rich environment.

However, garden soil can be very heavy, so it’s important to make sure that your pot has good drainage. Otherwise, your plant’s roots could become waterlogged and rot. Garden soil also tends to be alkaline, so if you’re growing acid-loving plants (like blueberries or rhododendrons), you’ll need to use an acidic potting mix instead.

Can you mix topsoil with garden soil?

You can mix topsoil with garden soil, but it is not recommended. Topsoil is usually lighter and more sandy than garden soil, which can make it difficult to evenly distribute in a pot. In addition, topsoil often contains more clay and organic matter than garden soil, which can lead to drainage problems.

It is better to use a potting mix that is specifically designed for container gardening. Potting mixes are usually lighter and more porous than garden soils, which helps improve drainage and prevents compaction. In addition, most potting mixes contain fertilizer, which can help your plants grow healthy and vigorous.

Useful Video: Can I Re-use Old Potting Soil in Containers? // How to Revitalize Old Potting Soil


Many gardeners, beginner or pro, wonder whether they can use gardening soil in pots. The conclusion we reached, is no. You cannot use gardening soil in pots because it is too dense and will compact over time, preventing drainage and oxygenation necessary for healthy roots.

That being said, you can create a potting mix at home using ingredients like perlite, vermiculite, coco coir, and composted manure. Or you could purchase a commercial potting mix from your local nursery or garden center. This is a much better option than using gardening soil in pots. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to us in the comments below. Happy gardening!