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Our Favourite Potting Mix in Australia (Indoor & Outdoor Plants)

It’s important that you choose the right mix for your potted plants so that their roots have a nice healthy growing environment.

When it comes to choosing the best potting mix, you have a wide variety of choices.

The mix you should choose will vary depending on what plants you intend to grow. This is because there are speciality mixes designed for indoor plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables. 

These will all have a slightly different makeup and many will have additional nutrients or fertiliser added.

Importance of choosing the right potting mix

It’s important that you choose the right mix for your potted plants so that their roots have a nice healthy growing environment.

potting mix 2 | Plant care

For this reason, you want a quality mix that’s designed for the plants you want to grow.

For example, a potting mix designed for large indoor plants will be very different to a mix designed for succulents or cacti

What to consider when selecting a potting mix

When selecting a potting mix, you first want to consider the type of plants that you want to grow. Of course, you also want to consider your budget.

Ideally, you should select the best quality mix that you can afford.

soil bag | Plant care

Remember that it’s the potting mix that will support the roots of your plant. Therefore, the healthier the roots are, the more your plants will thrive.

When choosing your potting mix, try to select one that has the Australian Standards Mark. This means that the mix has passed a set of stringent tests and is suitable for the purpose it is intended. 

The Australian Standards Mark is shown as a tick on the pack. This could be either a black tick or a red tick.

The mix with the red tick is the more premium of the two. Potting mixes with this tick are ideal for your most valuable plants that will grow in their pot for many years.

On the other hand, potting mixes that display the black tick are better suited to annuals that you intend to only grow for one season.

Key components of potting mixes

Potting mixes are made up of various key components in order to provide the perfect environment for your plants.

Here’s a breakdown of what these are designed for.

Drainage and aeration

All quality potting mixes contain a key ingredient to ensure good drainage and aeration. Primarily, this will be either perlite or vermiculite but sometimes shredded bark and sand are also used.

potting mix 3 | Plant care

Both perlite and vermiculite are mineral-based and help to open up the soil so that it can drain freely. They also ensure that there are plenty of air pockets so that the roots can breathe.

Water retention

Quality potting mixes also need an ingredient that helps to retain a certain amount of moisture. In the past, this was usually peat-based.

However, there has been a lot of concern about using peat in potting mixes for a number of years. Although this is a natural product that is harvested from peat bogs, this harvesting has caused numerous environmental problems.

You see, peat bogs take thousands of years to establish. If the peat is constantly being harvested, the bogs will eventually dry up and through this, entire ecosystems are lost.

That’s why most potting mix manufacturers now use alternative water retention ingredients such as compost, sphagnum moss and coco coir or fibre. Coco coir is a by-product of the coconut industry and is in ample supply.

Coco coir | Plant care

Nutrient content

Most potting mixes will also have added nutrients in the form of fertiliser.

One example of this is Yates Premium Potting Mix with Dynamic Lifter. You can find this at most garden centres and hardware stores like Bunnings and Mitre 10.

Types of potting mixes

Now, let’s look at the different types of potting mixes available and I’ll give you a rundown on which mix is best for the types of plants that you want to grow.

Best potting mix for indoor plants

indoor plants | Plant care

Brunnings Premium Growing Mix

This is a nice open mix that is perfectly suited to indoor plants. It has the added benefit of containing both a controlled-release fertiliser and a wetting agent.

You can actually buy this mix at Big W and many IGA supermarkets.

Best potting mix for a monstera

Scotts Osmocote Premium Potting Mix for Indoor Plants

This potting mix contains sphagnum peat. This differs from peat moss in that it grows on the soil surface of swampy areas. It is harvested carefully so that it does not harm the bogs where it’s found. 

Plus, these swamps or bogs only take around five to six years to regenerate. Sphagnum peat has excellent water-retention properties and also has a neutral pH. 

This premium potting mix also contains coco coir, perlite, and Osmocote slow-release fertiliser.

Best potting mix for fiddle leaf fig

Fiddle leaf fig Ficus lyrata | Plant care

Debco Indoor Premium Potting Mix

This is a great mix for fiddle leaf figs. It contains both sphagnum peat and coco coir as well as perlite. This means it offers excellent drainage but still allows the roots to absorb the moisture that they need. 

It also contains slow-release fertiliser and has added trace elements for good plant growth.

Best potting mix for container gardening

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Seasol Advanced Potting Mix

For container gardening, I particularly like this mix because it also includes Seasol which helps your roots to become established fast.

In addition, it contains slow-release fertiliser and trace elements. 

Best potting mix for herbs

Debco Vegetable & Herb Premium Potting Mix

This potting mix is specifically designed for growing vegetables and herbs. It includes controlled-release fertiliser as well as a wetting agent. You can buy this at Mitre 10.

Best potting mix for vegetables

Eggplants in pot | Plant care

Richgro Black Marvel Potting Mix

I particularly like this potting mix for growing vegetables because it has added potassium. This is necessary for all fruiting plants such as tomatoes, capsicum, cucumbers and zucchinis. 

The mix also contains added iron which is a trace element that many plants need to grow nice and lush, especially leafy greens. 

Best potting mix for berries

strawberries in pot | Plant care

Searles Premium Organic Potting Mix

This organic potting mix is perfect for growing fruiting plants such as blueberries and strawberries.

It has excellent water retention properties which is important when growing berries.

It also contains additional fertiliser that is high in potassium and fish and kelp extracts. Plus, it’s enhanced with rock minerals.

Best potting mix for orchids

Scott’s Osmocote Orchid Premium Potting Mix

Orchids need a different potting mix that is very open and free-draining. This mix contains both coco coir chips and composted pine bark which provide the perfect environment for orchids to thrive.

The mix also contains added calcium which is important for strong bulb development as well as enough slow-release fertiliser to last for up to 12 months.

This potting mix is suitable for both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids and can be used in pots as well as hanging baskets.

Best potting mix for succulents

Succulents 1 | Plant care

Scott’s Osmocote Cacti And Succulent Premium Potting Mix

Like orchids, succulents need an open and gritty mix to allow for excellent drainage. Most succulents only need to be watered when the mix is dry and don’t like their roots sitting in water.

That’s why you should always use a potting mix that has been specially formulated for succulents.

Other benefits of this mix are that it contains trace elements such as calcium as well as potassium to encourage flowering.

Best potting mix for ferns

Fern hanging basket | Plant care

Yates Plants And Ferns Specialty Potting Mix

This is the perfect potting mix for ferns. It contains a biostimulant to promote excellent plant and root health.

It also contains controlled-release fertiliser to keep your ferns fed for up to 6 months.

FAQ

How often should you replace potting mix?

Ideally, you should change your potting mix when the included fertiliser has been depleted which is normally around 6 months. But, not all plants need repotting that often, so it’s fine to just top up the mix as it starts to deplete and add additional slow-release fertiliser.

What soil mix do nurseries use?

Most production nurseries would make up their potting mix that is well-balanced between having adequate drainage and good water retention. It’s also common for nurseries to add a slow-release fertiliser to their potting mixes.

Should potting mix be mixed with soil?

Generally, potting mix should not be mixed with soil, especially if you’re growing in pots. However, if you want to save some money when filling a large raised bed, you can mix garden soil from your local nursery with premium potting mix.

Do I need to add fertiliser to potting mix?

Most premium potting mixes available these days already contain added fertiliser. This is generally in the form of slow-release or controlled-release fertiliser and will last for around 6 months. Once this has been depleted, you’ll need to add more fertiliser to your pots.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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