Dirt is a big deal to gardeners. Container-garden dirt must serve as the home, food and moisture storage medium for each potted plant. Creating the perfect blend of soil requires either purchasing this product or mixing it at home from individual ingredients. Soil recipes for window boxes and hanging baskets feature lighter, fluffier soil than the dirt found in the garden bed. Container-garden soil ingredients include peat moss, ground bark, coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite and fertilizer in varying quantities.
Basic Potting Soil Mix
Gardeners call potting medium "soil-less" because this product contains no real dirt as it exists in your garden. This medium is considered sterile and free of pathogens, diseases or pests. A standard recipe includes equal parts of peat moss, sand and vermiculite (flaked minerals to hold water and nutrients). Purchase ingredients from the garden center to mix the appropriate quantity for your window boxes and hanging baskets. Add the recommended amount of 10-10-10 granulated or powdered fertilizer and mix all ingredients together.
Garden Soil Mix
Most plants tolerate soil-based mixtures, provided that the final product adequately drains water from the planting container. This type of potting soil shouldn't be used for seeds or seedlings. Mix 2 parts of soil with 1 part perlite (light, volcanic material that aerates soil) and one part sphagnum peat moss. If you prefer to avoid the expense of perlite or vermiculite, swap this ingredient out for builder's sand. Mix in the recommended amount of granular fertilizer or provide additional nutrients with water-soluble fertilizer after planting.
Ground Bark Potting Soil
Purchasing peat moss by the bag can be expensive. Alternatives include a slightly different product called ground bark. Ground bark works to add bulk and aeration to the potting soil mix. This product provides an acceptable alternative to peat moss, although ground bark doesn't have the high organic content. Mix 2 parts of ground bark to 1 part of builder's sand. Add 1 part of vermiculite or perlite to improve water retention. Increase the nutrient content in the soil by using a water-soluble or granular fertilizer when planting.
Variable Potting Soil Mixture
Adding a combination of peat and bark won't inhibit the growth of window boxes or hanging baskets. Create a mixture from equal parts of perlite, peat and ground bark to provide a high-quality planting medium for container plants. Change the ratios of these ingredients as you determine which combination works best for each type of container plant.