The “Universal” Potting Mix
I find it very amusing whenever my audience tell me that the “secret of growing plants” lies in the potting mix! The use of appropriate potting mix is no doubt an important aspect in gardening, but there is no secret about it. Different proportions of various media are dependent on growing conditions too, that is why not all potting mix will be successful for every gardener.
Clockwise from top left: Peat moss, Vermiculite, Sphagnum moss and Perlite
One of my commonly used potting mix is the peat moss, vermiculite and perlite combination. The main advantage of using such mix is it enables you to control water retention and draining capabilities by altering amounts of certain media. If water retention is preferred, more peat moss can be added. Same goes to water draining, where I will put more perlite into the mix.
Another positive point is the mix generally contain zero minerals. There is no nutrients in the media which I will be able to gauge the amount of fertilizers being added. This zero nutrient characteristic will mean it is also suitable to grow carnivorous plants!
This mix is also known as the “soiless mix”, where the “ingredients” are mostly artificially processed. This non-natural mix is also an “open” mix, which is very well aerated and well –liked by many plants.
Additional media can be added to the mix too. Long fibre Sphagnum moss can be added to the bottom of the pot to stop leaking of potting mix or added to the top to increase water retention and lower evaporation rate. The basic rule to follow is equal parts of perlite, peat moss and vermiculite, and additional media depending on growing conditions.
I would recommend the use of this mix with smaller plants like Gesneriads (African Violets, Sinningia), bromeliads and carnivorous plants (Pitcher plants, Sundews). It would not be wise to use this mix on larger plants like Chiku or vegetables, as they prefer natural soil with nutrients and this mix can cost quite a bit when used in large quantities!