Aroid Potting Mix
What I use and why, how I mix it, and what the heck you actually need versus what is nice to have!
This mixture is not a science, it is an art, for lack of better words. The mixture, as well as the amount of the ingredients I put in my mixture varies slightly every time I make it (and sometimes drastically depending on what ingredients I have around, if the store is out of one or a couple of them, how my plants are doing and frankly, what my mood is.) and even more so depending on if the plants I am repotting are going indoors or outdoors.
It will need to be adjusted for you as well! This will be based on your environment, the amount of sunlight your plants get, the humidity levels and your watering habits! For example, if you’re a heavy waterer, you should add more perlite, if you have plants that are too dry, or are outdoors where they get a ton of sun, or in terracotta pots instead of plastic grow pots, I add some vermiculite and some extra coir.
So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is what is in my ideal aroid mix:
I will include links at the bottom of this post from what I use. Obviously there a million brands out there, this is just what I use.
- All Purpose Potting Mix (Black Gold)
- Coir (Burpee garden coir) bonus: its eco friendly & organic
- Sometimes, if I don’t have coir handy or the store I usually buy it from is out, I will use waterhold cocoblend soil (Black Gold)
- Perlite (Any Brand of Horticultural Perlite)
- Orchid Bark (Any Brand, I sometimes use Leca as an alternative)
- Leca (Ikea)
- Horticultural Charcoal (No particular brand, the last one I purchased was Hoffman’s)
- Vermiculite (Black Gold) – Particularly added for outdoor potted plants
- Worm Castings (Black Gold Earth Worm Castings Blend or Soil Power)
- Hand Vac (Black&Decker) or a hand held broom and dust pan
Why the additives?
Coir: coir is added to help with water holding and aeration (soil drainage). – bonus: it is natural and eco-friendly!
Perlite: Perlite is added for drainage, it helps prevent soil from becoming too compacted, which can cause root rot. Root rot is BAD, perlite is good! – bonus: it is also natural!
Orchid Bark: Orchid Bark is an additive for aeration. Your plants need air, just like us humans! this additive is great not only for orchids but also other plants that prefer quick draining yet moisture retentive soil, such as aroids. Plus, having a chunkier soil mix will promote stronger roots, instead of super fine roots, that are similar to hair like strands.
Leca: This is to help water to drain around the roots to aerate them. By leaving the pellets whole, you create tiny pockets of air. They also absorb water, so they can help retain moisture, without having your plant sitting in the water, which can cause root rot. *If you use leca/clay pebbles, you need to rinse thoroughly and soak them for at least 6 hours before using!
Charcoal: Charcoal helps improve aeration and draws out impurities from your soil.
Vermiculite: Vermiculite is used to help retain moisture. This is why I add it particularly to outdoor plants, even more in the plants that get direct sun! They tend to dry out SO fast. This helps keep a little more moisture in there!
Worm Castings: Worm Poop is a natural fertilizer aka plant food. The worms eat through compost, and when they poop it is the best soil enricher around! it also promotes aeration and can help to keep pesky pests away, such as aphids and spider mites!
Fertilizer: I also use fish fertilizer periodically, but i start a couple weeks after repotting. They get enough nutrients with the fresh soil mix, so they don’t need it right away, and even further down the road when it is not growing season. WARNING: this smells TERRIBLE, so only use as much as the directions say to!
Hand Vac: Soil is messy. Charcoal is the worst. No matter how tidy you try to be. This makes clean up easy!
Mixing it up!
16 qt. bag of black gold potting mix (or 2 8 qt bags) – I just dump the entire thing in the bin! Sometimes I use about 3/4 of the amount, depending on what I am planting!
8 qt. bag of perlite – I pretty much dump the entire bag, or almost all of the bag, sometimes I save a little off to the side if I know I am going to need to add extra perlite to particular plants.
Approx. half of an 8 qt bag of coir. but can be anywhere between 3 qt. and 6 qt. depending on what exactly im planting and if they are indoor or outdoor plants. If I don’t have this and am using black gold waterhold soil instead, I just dump the entire bag (8qt) into the bin and try to add a little extra perlite or something for aeration.
I use anywhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of an 8 qt bag of worm castings blend. If I am using the soil power shaker of worm castings, I just shake it on top of the soil after I repot it and I mix it into the top inch or two of the soil.
1 qt. bag of Charcoal, just toss that whole thing in too.
For the orchid bark or leca most of the time, I add this as I am potting the individual pots, based on their needs. Occasionally I will put the orchid bark directly in the mix, but the leca I almost never do, because they need to be rinsed and soaked, its just easier to keep them separated until I am ready to use them. Putting them in the soil mix wet, prior to potting just makes it messier in my opinion. For an 8 inch pot, I throw in a large handful or 2 of orchid bark or leca. For smaller pots, I mix in a less hefty handful, and so on.
The Vermiculite I also mix in as I pot individual plants. Because it depends greatly on how much moisture is needed in the plants, etc. So I just throw a few handfuls of vermiculite in, evenly as possible throughout the pot, depending on the size of the pot. A little more/a little less depending on the plant and how much moisture retention is needed.
Once everything is in the bin, I secure the lid, and shake it up! When I am using the mixture, I make sure to shuffle it all around with my hands, and try to get some from the bottom, the middle and the top, to make sure that I am getting some of all of the ingredients.
Clean up small messes that you made, with the hand vac!
So do I actually need all that?
So earlier I mentioned that this is not a science, and I mean that hole heartedly. I have NEVER used a measuring cup, and my method of mixing is to pour it all in a plastic tub with a lid and shake it.
So let’s start with the core of my mix. And differentiate between what I NEED to have to make it, and what are optional additives.
Potting Soil and Perlite: The potting soil and perlite are MUST haves. Aroids will suffer with just potting soil There is not enough drainage and the soil will become far too compact for their roots, they will not get enough air and they will rot. I also think that coir is a necessity to improve aeration and water retention. Potting soil is an important structure, because without it, not only will there be less nutrients without it, but it makes it a little easier for the roots to grow in, while they will grow in a completely chunky mixture, it will be easier for them with the softness of soil.
Vermiculite: For outdoor plants, I think that vermiculite is a pretty important additive. If you don’t have this, I would double the amount of coir. Without this, you will have to water WAY more for plants that are getting a significant amount of heat and sun. This is also a great additive for those who may forget to water, especially for plants like Alocasia that like to stay moist but not wet!
Orchid Bark/ Leca: If you are more of a heavy / frequent waterer, Orchid Bark or Leca is probably more of a necessity than it is for me. I tend to lightly water, rather than drain through the water for most of my plants. I always have orchid bark in plants like hoyas, but for my aroids its a 50/50 shot whether I have it added or not. I will say, I added leca to my Monstera Adansonii, after it was over watered, and had some rot, and it started growing like a weed and is healthier than it has ever been.
Charcoal: is great but I don’t always have it in my soil mix, in the spirit of full transparency. I think it is a great enhancement but it is more of a nice to have additive, in my opinion.
Worm Castings: This isn’t a necessity however I almost always use it in my soil mixes (and periodically after, as a fertilizer, lately I have been alternating between this and the fish fertilizer) if you don’t use it, your plants will want another type of plant food. It also has the added benefit of being a bug deflector, and you are a lot less likely to burn the roots of your plants with too much regular fertilizer by using this natural worm poop! You can’t use too much of it, unlike other fertilizers! If I don’t have it at the time when I am making my mix, I add it to the top inch of the soil when I do have it available. (gently mixing it into the soil, without disturbing any shallow roots).
Hand Vac: The hand vac is literally the best investment I ever made for cleaning up tiny messes that get sprinkled around, even when it comes to my already potted plants, when I am shifting them around or fertilizing them. So, in my opinion YES this is needed. or at least a hand held broom and dust pan!
If you have a special mix you like to use, or another additive/alternative for an additive, we’d love to hear about it, and why you use it! Or if you try this mix, we especially want to know how your plant babies do! You can always reach out on instagram @PlantedinPots or on here in the comments!
Potting Mix Ingredients:
Here are the links from products I really use! Some are amazon affiliate links. If you buy anything using these links, I may make a small commission, so thanks! However, you don’t need to use these exact brands, or could purchase them from a local garden center near you!
- Black Gold 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil: https://amzn.to/2M0DyFo
- Black Gold 16-Quart Organic Potting Soil (I have used this as an alternative to the All Purpose Potting Mix): https://amzn.to/30PkHnE
- Black Gold Moisture hold Supreme Potting Soil: https://amzn.to/2ZPTsKr
- Burpee Garden Coir: https://amzn.to/32TYAz1
- 8 qt. Perlite: https://amzn.to/2URyrgb
- Orchid Bark (I sometimes use Leca as an alternative): https://amzn.to/2D6D92S
- Horticultural Charcoal (No particular brand, the last one I purchased was Hoffman’s): https://amzn.to/30KAwMn
- Vermiculite (Black Gold) – Particularly added for outdoor potted plants: https://amzn.to/2D0YvPk
- Worm Castings (Black Gold Earth Worm Castings Blend or Soil Power): https://amzn.to/2EiLeCp or https://amzn.to/2BtTA9f the shaker bottle version, I picked up from Home Depot
- Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer: https://amzn.to/32QSZd7
Misc. Items for repotting:
- Hand Vac/Dust Buster (Black&Decker): https://amzn.to/32Qho2l
- Repotting Mat: https://amzn.to/32J6nQb
- Gardening Gloves (Digz): https://amzn.to/2XjXIkr
- Mini Terracotta Pots: https://amzn.to/2XEPoKZ
- Terracotta Pots: https://amzn.to/2VbIYBK