Best Well-Draining Potting Soil (Commercial + DIY Guide)

Do you know how critical potting soil health is for the plant’s overall health?

The stunted growth, burned foliage, bacterial growth, and root rot are all linked to the wrong potting soil.

In fact, many houseplants thrive in well-draining potting soil with only enough moisture and lots of oxygen.

Well-draining potting soil allows water drainage at a medium rate and promotes air pockets for oxygen circulation. You can choose a mix of organic/inorganic matters like peat moss, coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, chips, barks, and sand for your House plants.

well-draining potting soil
A well-draining potting mix is appropriate for most houseplants.

However, finding the best combination ratio is essential to make the perfect well-draining soil mix.

Read on to find out how to make perfect well-draining potting soil at home or where to buy one.

What is a Well-Draining Potting Soil?

If you have grown many houseplants, you would know how different soil types will affect the plant’s health.

Also known as well-draining soil, the potting mix allows water to drain quickly, keeping the soil evenly moist.

The compact soil will choke the plant roots, depriving them of water and oxygen, while continuously moist soil will drown the roots.

Well draining potting mix
Well-draining potting soil materials include both organic and inorganic matter.

Both cases may negatively affect plant growth unless growing succulents and Bee Balm. These plants thrive in compact or wet soil, requiring a perfect soil mix that drains steadily.

If you are wondering, most plants like Monstera, Anthurium, Pothos, Fiddle-leaf, and flowering species will naturally thrive in well-draining soil.

You can tell how well-draining potting soil is if you have grown these plants. Otherwise, you could tell it by simply doing a small test.

Water your pot containing regular potting mix thoroughly, then water it again. If the water puddles up, it is slow draining; if all the water drains out, it is fast draining.

You would want the potting soil that drains 2.5 cm per hour to ensure well-draining soil. Here is a small table for soil drainage capacity.

CapacityDrainage per hour
Slow-drainingLess than 2 inch
Well-draining2 to 3 inch
Fast-draining4 inches or more

Note: One of the best well-draining soils is the orchid mix which provides the correct soil drainage, structural support, and moisture retention.

How to Make Well-Draining Potting Soil?

If you are an avid gardener, you would love to make potting soil at home by sourcing suitable materials.

Organic matter like peat, coco, and compost provide healthy microorganisms, while inorganic materials like perlite and vermiculite promote aeration by making the soil porous.

Well draining soil
You can add ingredients like compost, leaves, perlite, vermiculite and coco peat to make the soil well-draining.

In fact, you can choose the quality sourced materials to prepare the potting soil for as many pots as you prefer.

Here is how to prepare well-draining potting soil at home.

Potting Soil Materials

Making a well-draining potting soil will require combining multiple organic and inorganic matters, including:

Peat Moss1. Provides optimal moisture
2. Ensure good structural support
3. Promotes microbes growth
Orchid Bark Chips1. Aerates the soil
2. Provides good drainage
3. Prevents soil compaction
Perlite1. Reduces soil compaction
2. Provides good drainage
Vermiculite1. Helps aerate the soil
2. Retaining water and nutrients
Coco Coir1. Better water retention
2. Keeps soil moist
Vermicompost1. Provides proper nutrition
2. Supports microbial growth
Sand1. It is fast-draining.
2. Works great in a combination with compost and mulch

You can also introduce different household components such as sawdust, straw, shredded newspaper, bark, dry leaves, plant clippings, grass, eggshells, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable scraps to make the soil well-draining.

Potting Soil Recipes

Here is how to prepare well-draining potting soil using different materials. Remember, a 5-inch pot will require 1 liter or 2.2 lb. of potting soil.

Recipe 1

Here is a popular recipe for preparing potting soil.

  • 40% coco coir
  • 25% orchid bark
  • 25% perlite
  • 10% vermicompost
  • Top it off with some organic compost (Depending on the plant’s requirement)
A bowl in man's hand
You can add different components like perlite, and vermiculite to make the potting mix well-draining.

Recipe 2

Here is an alternative recipe.

  • 50% peat moss
  • 30% perlite
  • 20% orchid bark
  • Top it off with some organic compost (Depending on the plant’s requirement)

Recipe 3

Here is a rather unpopular yet effective well-draining formula.

  • 60% potting sand
  • 20% organic compost (worm casting or compost)
  • 20% perlite, orchid bark, and coco peat

How to Make Potting Soil Well-Draining?

Consider amending the potting soil with a different matter if you have already prepared a substrate, but it is not so well-draining.

  • In the case of potting soil rich in sand and clay, add 1/3 parts perlite or orchid bark to make the substrate lighter.
  • For compact potting soil, consider mixing it with organic compost, pine bark, composted leaves, and vermiculite.
  • Add sand, peat moss, and orchid bark for loose soil to provide more support and a denser structure.
  • Similarly, mixing the loose soil with organic compost will help add the missing nutrients and provide volume.
  • Remember to add some organic compost and perlite or vermiculite when using last year’s soil to provide missing nutrients and prevent compaction.
  • Adding peat moss or clay to an existing low-draining soil will worsen it.
  • Similarly, adding a significant amount of perlite or pine bark will loosen the soil’s structure.
  • When amending the last year’s soil, you can either remove half of it or push it to the bottom of the pot and fill the upper part with a fresh mix.
  • Do not forget to check the soil pH level before planting to ensure the soil condition is correct for the particular plant.

Best Well-Draining Potting Soil for Indoor Plants

Buying commercial potting soil may work for gardeners who are not up for preparing soil mix at home.

In fact, using commercial well-draining potting soil would work great for novice gardeners who are least experienced with mixing soil.

Here are the five best commercial potting mixes appropriate for houseplants requiring well-draining substrate.

1. Miracle-Gro Houseplant Potting Mix

The Scott’s Miracle-Gro® Houseplant Potting Mix is a perfect well-draining potting soil for most houseplants.

It is packed with essential nutrients and elements that feed your plant for up to 6 months.

Moreover, the rich perlite, peat moss, and sphagnum content make it less prone to gnats.

Scott's Miracle-Gro® Houseplant Potting Mix
Scott’s Miracle-Gro Houseplant Potting Mix is perfect for indoor plants. (Source: Amazon)


  • It is certified by the Mulch & Soil Council.
  • It is less prone to soil-borne pests.
  • A 4-quart soil mix bag is enough to fill two 5-inch pots.
  • Prevents introducing fertilizer for up to 6 months.


  • The rich organic matter may not be appropriate for all houseplants.
  • Water infiltration is slightly low and requires further amending with perlite.

Check the price and availability on Amazon.

2. Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

Espoma organic potting mix is perfect for all indoor and outdoor containers.

It contains a rich blend of sphagnum peat moss, humus, and perlite enhanced with Myco-tone.

Moreover, it is fortified with earthworm casting, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, and feather meal for rapid plant growth.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix is fortified with earthworm casting, alfalfa, and kelp meal. (Source: Amazon)


  • It contains rich organic composts such as earthworm casting and alfalfa meal.
  • Provides perfect Myco-tone, a proprietary blend of endo and ectomycorrhizae.


  • The sphagnum peat moss content is slightly more than other organic mixes.
  • It is prone to fungus gnats and other bacterial growth.

Check the price and availability on Amazon.

3. Mother Earth Coco Plus Perlite Mix

Mother Earth potting mix gives a perfect blend of texture, porosity, and high-cation exchange capacity required for most houseplants.

The rich coco and perlite provide a perfect growing environment, a great alternative to potting soil. It incorporates 70% of the finest coco pith and fiber blend and 30% perlite for good aeration.

Mother Earth Soil Mix
Mother Earth Soil Mix consists of 70% coco coir and 30% perlite. (Source: Amazon)


  • It provides perfect soil structure and aeration.
  • The rich coco coir content provides lightness and reduces the risk of waterlogging.


  • The substrate lacks essential nutrients.
  • Care to amend the soil with organic compost.

Check the price and availability on Amazon.

4. Miracle-Gro Expand’ n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix

Another potting soil from Miracle-Gro provides an excellent substitute for potting mix.

The perfect soil mix holds up to 50% more water than basic potting soil, appropriate for flowering perennials.

Miracle-Gro expand and gro
Miracle-Gro expands, and Gro is a great substitute for garden soil. (Source: Amazon)


  • Ensures 3x more prominent and better plant.
  • Expand soil density by 3x when water is added.
  • Creates up to 90% more air space.


  • It may not be appropriate for low-water requiring houseplants.

Check the price and availability on Amazon.

5. Fertilome Ultimate Potting Mix

The all-purpose potting mix is excellent for potted plants as it includes the formulation of mycorrhizae, worm castings, and humic acids.

Fertilome potting mix contains two types of limestone to balance out soil acidity. It is perfect for indoor plants, seedlings, and outdoor planters.

Fertilome Ultimate
Fertilome Ultimate potting soil is best for potted plants and hanging baskets (Source: Amazon)


  • It contains a rich blend of organic and inorganic matter.
  • It is OMRI listed for organic use.

Check the price and aailability on Amazon.

Best Well-Draining Potting Soil for Outdoor Plants

Finding a well-draining potting soil for outdoor plants may be tricky because garden-grown plants usually require a mix of different soil.

Finding soil mix for plants potted in outdoor planters may be easy as you grow it in a pot or raised garden bed; hence, you can use the same potting mix for outdoor plants.

Outdoor potting mix
Amend the outdoor planter soil with vermicompost, cocopeat to make it well-draining

Here are a few well-draining potting soils that work for indoor and outdoor planters.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Potting Soil1. You can grow plants like Fiddle leaf, Monstera, and Anthurium using this soil mix.

2. It increases the retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients.
Good Dirt All Purpose Potting Mix1. The 2 CF bag contains a chemical-free potting mix with organic-based nutrients and plant biotic.

2. The premium quality sustainable peat moss is ideal for water retention.
Proven Winners® Premium Potting Soil1. It is perfect for flowering plants that require the best soil combination for boosted growth.

2. It comes with 15-7-15 + minors premium continuous-release plant food.
FoxFarm Ocean Forest FX14000 Organic Potting Soil1. It is an ideal soil for hungry indoor and outdoor plants.

2. The blend of earthworm casting, bat guano, sea-going fish meal, forest humus, and moss provides a rich organic blend.
rePotme Phalaenopsis Imperial Orchid Mix1. The custom-blended orchid mix contains rich sphagnum moss content.

2. Remember to amend it with perlite and organic compost before applying.


Choosing a well-draining potting soil can be difficult at first, especially when different houseplants require a slightly different soil mix.

Follow this guide to find the perfect blend of potting soil mix for most houseplants that thrive in well-draining soil.

Preparing homemade potting soil can be fun, but you can always rely on commercial soil mix if you want to save time!

Remember to collect the correct materials, prepare and check the soil mix, and change as necessary.

Related Article: Find Out Best Potting Soil for Houseplants

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