What’s The Difference Between Potting Soil And Garden Soil? Which is Better

What’s the difference between potting soil And garden soil? Choosing good soil is essential for any new garden. Ultimately, the soil is the medium of life for plants, as it provides the roots with a place to grow and absorb water and nutrients. Organic materials produce both products, plants, and flowers.

Potting soil plays an essential role in helping plants obtain nutrients and water. In addition, potting soil plays a significant role in preventing compaction, which could kill your plant’s roots.

On the other hand, garden soil is similar to topsoil but has extra organic matter such as compost to provide plants with increased nutrients. Both terms sound similar, but there are slight differences between potting and garden soil.

Nonetheless, plant roots will grow stronger and healthier with both products, and you’ll use less water too. Even though the garden and potting soil provide plants with excellent growing conditions, you cannot use them interchangeably.

It’s important to choose the right type of soil for your specific gardening needs, whether it’s for potted plants or in-ground gardening.

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between potting soil and garden soil.

What’s the difference between potting soil And garden soil?

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Your tomato plants might die in the soil where your cactus thrives, and your cactus ferns may suffer where your tomatoes thrive. Hence, planting soil is formulated differently for various uses than gardening soil.

Water buildup and soil compaction can cause root damage and prevent plants from growing correctly if you select the wrong one.

You can impact the health and growth of your plants by choosing suitable soil. There are different kinds of soil. What’s the difference between potting soil And garden soil, and why would it matter? The needs of plants in the ground differ from those in containers. 

When growing plants in containers, you can use potting soil instead of garden soil for many reasons. It can sometimes be too expensive to purchase potting mix, so garden soil, which is usually free, will suffice.

Plants grown in outdoor containers can be grown in either potting mix or garden soil plus amendments.

Garden Soil

You can add compost and other organic matter to make topsoil more nutritious. Potting mixes retain more moisture than topsoil.

The soil has fewer ingredients than potting soil, such as perlite, vermiculite, and moss. The soil is dirt cheap, and there are fewer ingredients in potting soil.

The easiest and cheapest method is to enhance soil in flower beds and gardens without garden soil. When planting or maintaining flower beds, use this tool. You can make homemade potting soil from garden soil.

Some people like potting soil to be soil-based. To make the mixed light and loose, add nutrients and amendments. Plant roots cannot breathe in garden soil. It should not be used in containers.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Garden Soil

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The purpose of garden soils is primarily to grow plants in the ground. The majority of garden soil is free. However, it needs to be amended annually to replace nutrients used up and prevent compaction. These are just two of the pros and cons of garden soil, but many more. 

Typical potting soils are formulated with a pH level that meets plant needs, provides drainage, and contains essential nutrients.

Unless you use a commercial product, which can be expensive in a large region, there is a range of garden soils based on location and how much the gardener has contributed to the soil. 

Compost with a high level of organic matter is utilized for these. It is easy to replenish garden soil, one of its advantages.

You can improve your soil’s texture, composition, and nutrient density by incorporating kitchen scraps. Plant roots can also develop a thick root base with the help of garden soil as it packs well around their roots.

Potting Soil

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Planting soil, also known as potting mix, is a mixture of ingredients used to grow plants in pots, such as sphagnum moss, bark, perlite, vermiculite, compost, or coir. It does not, however, include the following:

Soil. It is due to the possibility of fungus and other plant pathogens infecting your plants in the soil. The sterility of potting mix ensures that it is safe and fungus-free for plants. 

Organic material (compost or moss) will feed the plants, while vermiculite or perlite will keep the mix loose so roots won’t develop compaction problems or root rot.

You may add chemical fertilizers and water-retentive crystals to some potting mixes. We also offer potting mixes designed explicitly for succulents, orchids, roses, cacti, and seed starting.

Plants in containers and seeds can be started with it. Flower beds and raised beds shouldn’t be built with it. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Potting Soil

Container gardening is best done with potting soil. Most potting mixes include additives that help plants retain water and nutrients while promoting drainage and aeration.

They contain peat, vermiculite (an expanded clay particle), perlite, coconut coir, compost, and bark, among other things. Top-quality potting mixes are much less compactible than garden soils. 

The qualities of potted plants help them cope with the challenges of living in a container. You can buy potting soil that is identical to potting mix, or you can find it that contains actual soil.

Look at the label to determine what you are buying. Most indoor plants prefer soil-free potting mixes, but they’re usually too light and fluffy for outdoor beds.

Learn more on garden care: How To Get Rid Of Grass In A Vegetable Garden


Now you know the difference between potting soil and garden soil. Soils for pots and gardens have extremely distinct compositions and, as a result, serve quite varied purposes.

In most situations, garden soil is suitable for all outdoor applications, whereas potting soil is better for seed starting and growing houseplants indoors. 

While potting soil has a lot of advantages for container plants, it’s generally not worth the money if you’re outside potting plants in bulk. Garden soil may be restored for a small amount of money and is suitable for vast garden spaces. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Potting Soil Or Garden Soil Better?

In most situations, garden soil is suitable for all outdoor applications, whereas potting soil is better for seed starting and growing houseplants indoors. While potting soil has a lot of advantages for container plants, it’s generally not worth the money if you’re outside potting plants in bulk.

What Happens If I Put Potted Plants In Garden Soil?

The worms, beetles, and microorganisms that live in your soil aerate it when it’s on the ground. Garden soil from your yard, on the other hand, is excessively dense when utilized in pots. It will get very compacted, resulting in poor drainage in your container, which will eventually rot your plants’ roots.

Is It Best To Use Potting Soil Or Potting Mix For My Plants?

Even though the names are commonly used interchangeably, there is a distinction between potting soil and potting mix.

Potting soil and potting mix differ in that potting soil may or may not contain dirt, whereas potting mix is an entirely soilless medium. Potting mix is sterile, meaning it doesn’t contain pathogens like fungus or other diseases, making it safer for plants.

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