What Is the Difference Between Potting Soil and Potting Mix?

I have been caring for my houseplants for years now, and people often come to me and chit-chat about pest repellants and fertilizers. Still, there is one question that I get asked about the most, is how is potting mix any different from potting soil?

What is the difference between potting soil and potting mix? Potting soil contains soil, dirt, and other components, while potting mix does not have soil it has bark, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and other additives. Potting mix is explicitly made to improve the growth of your plant.

Now that you know the fundamental difference let’s know both types of soils a little more and then decide what you should be using for your plant.

Differences In Plant Growth

Stages of Plant Growth
Stages of Plant Growth

Potting soil gives traditional and organic nutrition to plants as the soil can have decayed matter. So, it does help with growth, but if we look closely at the potting mix, it is mainly made to make your plant grow faster and healthier.

Also, the potting mix can be custom-made for all types and sizes of plants and can help in their growth, but you cannot customize potting soil alone according to the plant. You can add different components like perlite or peat moss according to the condition and age of your plant, and there you have a perfect potting mix, but this is not the case with potting soil.

Differences In Texture

If you are a fan of container gardening and have tons of houseplants in containers or pots, then you should consider making potting mix your best friend. Potting soil does not let your roots expand or even breathe.

The reason for it is the texture of the soil. Potting soil tends to be compact and does not really give way to water or even air, so your roots might suffocate. If proper water or soil is not reaching your roots, your plant will not grow and can even die because of it.

On the other hand, the texture of potting mix is quite airy and light, so roots can easily get water and air, and at the same time, they can even expand easily in potting mix. But the problem people usually face with potting mix is that it’s so light that it spreads in the whole house, so you will be doing quite a lot of cleaning after getting a potting mix.

Differences While Germinating

Seeds can quite easily germinate in your potting mix as it gives them all the nutrition and aeration they need to spread their wings, but potting soil might give a hard time to your seeds. As discussed above, potting soil is not very welcoming when it comes to roots.

So, seeds can have a problem while germinating and developing roots because potting soil would not let the roots grow so easily due to its compact nature. This difference is quite significant because there would be no plant to be concerned about if your seeds did not develop roots.

Differences In Medium

The major difference between potting soil and potting mix is the medium in which you should use them. If you have an open garden or open space and you are putting all your plants there, then potting soil is the best choice for you as the aeration problem only happens in closed and compact containers.

Also, suppose you want to have plants inside your house or simply do not have a garden. In that case, you must consider purchasing a potting mix because it works best in a compact environment and provides nutrition to your plant without suffocating it.

Differences In Price

Everyone wants to save a few bucks now and then, so affordability is crucial when it comes to your potting solution. Potting soil is super cheap, and you can find it anywhere easily; you can even make your own customized soil with just a few things.

When it comes to potting mix, it is pretty expensive in terms of money and effort. You have to find just the right combination of potting mix for your particular plant. Also, potting mix is not always available at hand, so you might have to go to a gardener’s shop to find a good quality potting mix.

Also, some potting mixes contain soil, so read the ingredients properly because if they have soil, they are not really potting mixes and will not be suitable for plants in containers.

Differences In Longevity

You should also pay heed to the longevity of your potting solution. Potting soil tends to last longer as it does not contain much organic material and is just simple soil. You just need to add compost to your soil from time to time, and you will get a long-lasting potting solution in no time.

Potting mix is not long-lasting because it contains organic matter that decays easily, so you have to go shopping for it quite often. Also, it is expensive, so buying it, again and again, might not be an option for everyone out there.

Potting Soil or Potting Mix, Which One to Buy?

It totally depends upon your preferences and the type of medium you are nurturing your plant in. If you have an open garden with nutrient-rich soil, then you don’t have to invest extra bucks in the potting mix, as potting soil will be ideal in this condition.

If you are catering indoor plants or plants in containers, then as discussed above, potting soil is not the right choice for the growth of your plant and in this case, always go for the potting mix as they get along with plants in a container.


Wishing your plants, a happy life! I hope that you found your ideal potting solution, and this article was helpful for you. Make sure to ingredients of whatever you are using on your plant and be cautious with it. Also, some of your plants can be very fragile, so keep them in good company and take good care of them.

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