Soils for Outdoor Containers

When you plan for your outdoor containers there are many different factors to consider.

Will the container be in the sun or the shade? What size is your container and how many plants and what sizes will it fit? How much space is over the top of the container to accommodate for the height of a tree or shrub. How will you water your containers? Are they situated where they will get wet when it rains? What color combinations will you use? How will you combat pests in your conatiner arrangements? What soil mixes are best for your containers? Your clients will not demand the answers to all of these questions, but as you insure that their outdoor containers will maintain their beauty and be easy to care for you must know these details. One detail you can discuss with your client is the importance of potting soil.

Functions of Potting SoilPotting soil

According to “The Dirt on Dirt” an article from there are three main functions of potting soil:

“To hold moisture and nutrients around your plants roots, acting as a reservoir for these critical elements of life in your container garden.

To provide enough air for growing roots to be able to breath and not rot once you plant your container. Most people don’t think about this, but it is critical to have a good amount of air in the soil.  Not enough and usually the plant roots have a hard time surviving.

To support your plant, providing anchorage for the roots. A soil mix needs to settle around the roots of your plant and help hold it in place, so that it doesn’t blow over from the first wind.  However, it also needs to be light enough to allow water and air to always be present under the soil surface so your plant’s roots have a balanced atmosphere to grow in”

The soil you use in a container can help a plant thrive or make it impossible to care for. Depending on the plants in the container and where it is situated the soil in the container can easily become too dry, too wet or too compact. With the proper soil and nutrients you can avoid these problems and your plantscapes will thrive with less work to maintain them.

A Resource for Potting Soil Mixes

One way to get just the right amount of materials for your plantscapes is mixing your own potting soil. has many recipes for soil for specific types of plants.  Among the formulas given are the Cornell Peat-Lite mix, and the Cornell Foliage mix.

What potting mixes have been successful for you? Do you make your own potting mixes or purchase pre-made potting?

As you are considering all the factors that go into creating an outdoor plantscape and finding the perfect soil for your plantscape, be sure to browse The  Lechuza Trio Cottage Patio Planter is a great planter for outdoor plantscapes. It can be used with a trellis to create privacy or a windscreen.

Photo Courtesy of Francis Chung

Melanie is a plant enthusiast and expert contributor at and Melanie's experience in internet marketing, business management, and horticulture allows her to bring a unique perspective to the community. Melanie received a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and is the Marketing Director at NewPro Containers.

Fiberglass Planters

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