What are the advantages and disadvantages of potting soil?

Potting soil is a type of soil that has many advantages but also some disadvantages. Its price is quite good -an 80-liter sack can cost less than 15 euros-, so it is very worthwhile to always have at home, especially if we are one of those who go to a nursery and cannot return with empty handed. But precisely for that and to avoid problems in the future, I am going to tell you what are the advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate.

In this article we are going to tell you all the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate.

Main features

advantages and disadvantages of potting soil

In order for our home garden to thrive in good conditions and to have good harvest results, we must choose a substrate correctly. As we know, there are different advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate depending on the type we use. Each type of substrate has different characteristics and is adapted to one type of species or another. You have to know how to correctly choose the substrate that is more suitable for the needs of a plant that we are cultivating. For example, if we are going to grow vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants or ornamental plants, they will require different characteristics in the substrate.

The existence and use of the potting substrate is important in order to help the plants to be more resistant to pests and diseases . The most important pests in gardening are whiteflies, mealybugs, lungs, snails and slugs, among others. On the other hand, we have the better known diseases such as powdery mildew, mildew and rust.

It must be taken into account that the substrate to be the main food source that will not only nourish the plant but also helps to improve the fertility of the soil and provides all the necessary nutrients for the development of the fruits. It also helps to provide support to the plant and is able to retain a certain amount of water. This capacity to retain water must be calculated according to the type of crop we are planting. And there are some species that do not support waterlogging, so the substrate must also guarantee good air circulation to allow the roots to develop and grow well.

Types of substrates for growing plants

fertile land

This is where we will analyze the different types of their treatments and the advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate. In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, we must analyze the texture of the substrate to know its potential. It must be light and fluffy so that it can let the roots breathe and that they can grow obtaining nutrients and water more easily. It is best to include a mixture of the pot of several different substrates to be able to take advantage of the beneficial characteristics that each one of them brings us.

We are going to analyze what are the different types, advantages and disadvantages of the potting substrate:

  • Worm humus: it is one of the pot substrates that is obtained by means of the well-known vermicompost. It is nothing more than a type of organic substrate that helps provide enough fertility to the earth thanks to its high content of minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron and sodium. It is also high in nitrogen which is the main nutrient in plants. It has a spongy texture and is excellent for improving air conduction over land. In addition, thanks to this amount of nutrients, it favors the germination of the seeds. The vermicompost helps reduce the development of fungi and bacteria that are harmful to the growth of crops. 
  • Quilting – A widely used technique in permaculture is creating a last layer with quilting. The main objective is to reduce erosion and contribute organic matter to the land. With this more superficial layer the roots are protected against adverse environmental conditions such as excessive heat or cold, excess humidity and wind. Helps maintain optimum humidity for plant growth. It also provides a reduction in the frequency of irrigation so not only will we save on water, but also the plant will require less care.
  • Coconut fiber: it is another type of substrate that falls into the category of inerts. It can be added to the mixture that we prepare to fill the pots and it is suitable for all types of crops. It improves the air conduction capacity, retention of water and nutrients and reduces the risk of the appearance of diseases caused by fungi.
  • Perlite: the perlite consists of granules and between its features oxygenation of the earth because of their high porosity, strength and erosion removal of some insects and mites. Lastly, it reduces the appearance of unwanted plants in the crop. Do not stay without it .

Advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate

potting substrate

The advantages of this type of substrate are the following:

  • They absorb and retain moisture : it is very important for the roots, since if they remain dry for too long the plant could suffer damage due to dehydration.
  • Its pH is slightly higher than 7 : unless it is specific for acidic plants, in which case it will have a pH between 4 and 6.
  • It is composed of different substrates : such as black peat, blond peat, plant material, organic matter and perlite.
  • They usually have a root activator : this stimulates the growth of the root system.
  • The price is affordable .

The disadvantages of this type of substrate are the following:

  • They have a tendency to compact a lot : if you live in an area with a strong insolation, you run the risk that it ends up “turning” into a block of earth. Once you do, the water cannot be absorbed. To solve it, you have to put the pot in a basin of water for about 30 minutes.
  • It does not contain many nutrients : it usually has around 1% nitrogen (N), 0.5% phosphorus (P) and 0.75% potassium (K), but nothing more.
    Only if you have root activating will you have something else: 15% NPK for each liter of substrate.
  • There are different commercial brands : depending on which one we choose, the quality will be worse or better. From experience, I recommend reading the composition well and taking the one with the highest concentration of perlite, which is what will end up making a difference by ensuring that the soil has good drainage.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of potting substrate.

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