How to Make Homemade Indoor Potting Mix


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There are a few things to consider when thinking about how to make the indoor potting mix. If you use a container to garden indoors, like a concrete container, a terra cotta pot, or a self-watering plastic pot, you will want to place potting mix over regular soil. Soil is better for non-container or landscape gardening, whereas soilless potting mixes are the best medium for indoor potted plants. You will want to use potting mix over the various brands of soil available because potting mix allows for water and nutrient retention and has decent space for air to move throughout the mixture. Potting soil is lightweight, has excellent drainage, and allows for proper airflow.

Indoor potting mix can be purchased from your local garden centers such as Home Depot or Lowes, but the most reliable way to ensure that you are getting the best indoor potting mix on the market is to make it yourself at home. There are so many benefits of making an indoor potting mix at home, like financial savings, quality ingredients, and a feeling of satisfaction for completing a project.

History of Homemade Indoor Potting Mix

Invented by students from Cornell University, homemade indoor potting mixes were first designed for those who wanted to garden indoors. Indoor gardeners would have to go and track down soil which wasn’t easy for those living in urban areas. That is why these students came up with the idea for a potting mix that drains well and allows for proper airflow.

Benefits of Homemade Indoor Potting Mix

Suppose you decide to make your own indoor potting mix. In that case, you will not only be saving money, but you will have access to the potting mix whenever you need it. Gardeners benefit from the therapeutic and relaxing effects of becoming one with nature and getting even more down and dirty creating your soil mixture; ensuring you are using quality ingredients will only boost the positive mental effects.

  1. Making homemade indoor potting mix will save you money. High-quality potting mixes sold in garden centers can cost you a pretty penny. Combining ingredients at home and developing your personal indoor potting mix recipe allows you to make as much as you need and the ability to store it in air-tight containers to have readily available without breaking the bank.
  2. The convenience of always having potting mix available. When you create a homemade indoor potting mix, you can make a large batch and store extra for use at a later time. Instead of driving to your local garden centers or warehouses, you can make as much as you need to at home and store the rest. You can also save the ingredients and make your potty mixture as necessary to ensure the freshest quality of the ingredients.
  • Therapeutic effects. Using your hands to do the gardening may be a dirty experience, but it is also a very therapeutic and relaxing experience. Whenever you are feeling stressed, just whip up a batch of your homemade indoor potting mix. This will be a lot cheaper than therapy, plus you are accomplishing a task that will feel rewarding.
  • Sense of accomplishment. Making your own indoor potting mix will give you a feeling of pride and accomplishment that you won’t get by buying an indoor potting mix at a store. Have you ever built a gingerbread house around the holidays or brought a tough dying plant back to life again. You have that sense of “I did that”. Creating your potting mixture will also give you that overwhelming sense of satisfaction, help keep you motivated, and feel good about yourself.
  • Highest quality ingredients. Since you are in charge of picking ingredients, you have the option of choosing the highest quality ingredients. Sometimes store-bought blends, just like human foods, do include chemicals and other unsafe additives.
  • Safety. In addition to knowing what is going into the potting mix, you can avoid additives that could potentially harm pets or children if they were to get into the soil.

Ingredients in Homemade Indoor Potting Mix

If deciding to make a homemade indoor potting mix, you will need to know what ingredients are necessary to combine into the potting mixture. When you are purchasing your products, look for high-quality ingredients to ensure you know you are creating the best indoor potting mix that will allow for drainage and water retention at the same time. These ingredients may include:


Cultivated from peat bogs and native to the wetlands of Canada, peat is sold in bales at your local garden shops. Regular soil is too heavy, and a brand new, delicate plant can have trouble pushing through the rough dirt.

Peat helps to promote good drainage while also retaining a sufficient amount of water. Peat is only sold in stores after removing the harmful pathogens which can damage and kill your plant.


Perlite is a lite-weight, white, granulated product made from one hundred percent volcanic glass. Glass from a volcano is heated to one thousand degrees Celsius until the glass literally pops like popcorn. Perlite aids in water retention and drainage. Perlite works perfectly for delicate seeds. Use about one-third of perlite in potted indoor plants.


First, you want to make sure you use coarse, builders’ sand and not the children’s play sand. Both can be found in your garden centers, so read the labels carefully before purchasing. Sand improves aeration when added into a homemade indoor potting mix. Do not add too much sand to the mixture, as it can make your pot too heavy to move.


Vermiculite adds air to the homemade indoor soil mixture. It also increases water and nutrient maintenance which results in healthier and more robust plants.


Fresh wood chips are not a good choice for homemade indoor potting mixes. Instead, look for rotted wood chips to add to your mixture. Where new wood chips cause plants to struggle with growth, rotted wood chips hold more moisture and add a loose consistency to the potting mix that will benefit the plant.


Compost is a necessity for homemade indoor potting mixes. The ratio for using compost in a homemade indoor potting mix is four parts potting mix to one part compost. If you use compost on an indoor potted tree or shrub, the ratio changes to nine parts soil mixture to one part compost. Compost adds many different nutrients to a homemade potting mix like calcium, magnesium, sodium, nitrogen, and potassium. Compost also improves the texture of the potting mix.


Rock can add a lot to an indoor potted plant. Adding a layer of stones to the top of the homemade indoor potting mix will add to the aesthetics and prevent water loss, pests, weeds, and pets from interfering with the plant.

Odor-free Worm Castings

Worm castings are a fertilizer that is harvested from worms. Adding one-fourth cup of worm castings to your homemade indoor potting mix will help to make the soil more porous. If you want the healthiest indoor homemade potting mix, adding worm castings to the mix is a must.

Homemade Indoor Potting Mix – The Wrap-up

There are a few essential things to keep in mind when making your own homemade indoor potting mix. First, using a homemade indoor potting mix is not only money-saving but super convenient. Second, each blend of the potting mix is unique to you! Ingredients such as peat, perlite, wood chips, and compost can be added to the mixture to aid in water retention. Lastly, there are many relaxing and healing side effects to gardening.


Although there are some instances where gardening soil and potting mix can be combined, it is not good to do so regarding plants being grown in a container. Gardening soil is just too heavy for indoor plants to get through, and you will end up with a dirt-filled pot instead of a beautiful, potted plant.

Yes! It is okay to continue using potting soil which has mold on it. They might not be seen, but funguses and molds grow in most gardening mixes.

Absolutely, you can use indoor potting mixes for vegetables! Vegetables grow best in indoor potting mixes that have peat, compost, and perlite in them.

Other types of soils that should not be used as a potting mix for indoor, potted plants are:

  • Mulch is primarily made of moss, tree bark, wood chips, and leaves.
  • Manure is animal waste that is used in gardening to improve the soil.
  • Gardening soil is regular soil mainly used in landscape gardens.

Many people assume that soil and potting mix are the same product, and although they may look the same, the two are different. Soil is mainly used for landscape gardening. Potting mix is soilless and used strictly in container gardening.


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