Potting Soil Benefits

Starting seeds and cuttings in the correct medium is vital for vigorous growth and optimum health. Plain garden soil may be airless and too dense for your plants' roots to penetrate; potting soil provides ideal conditions for all your plants and seeds with the perfect balance of organic matter, moisture retention and essential nutrients that are beneficial for the health and well-being of your starts and rooted cuttings.

Moisture Retention

Moisture is an essential element for plant growth, and potting soil provides the necessary balance to keep seeds and plants hydrated, from the germination stage to maturity. Organic material in potting soil absorbs moisture while at the same time allowing excess water to drain, minimizing root-rot and mold growth.


Plants benefit from nutrient-enhanced potting soil, which allows them to feed and thrive without additional feedings, resulting in vigorous growth and healthy, green specimens. Ensure that packaged potting soil is pre-sterilized to eliminate insect and weed growth. To sterilize potting soil, spread the soil in a shallow, rectangular cake pan with a chunk of potato placed in the center and bake in the oven until the potato is tender. After planting your seeds in sterilized soil, feed the seedlings after the "true" leaves appear.

Specialty Potting Soils

Depending on the type of plants you wish to start or repot, there are specialty potting soils available tailored to one particular species of plant that provide all the necessary nutrients and preferred soil density for that plant's optimum growth and vigor. Some potting soils may be rich in organic humus; some may be loamy, ideal for succulents like cacti; while other potting mixes may contain bone meal, excellent fodder for bulbs.

Keywords: seed starting, moisture absorption, potting mix, soil drainage

About this Author

Victoria Ries is a freelance writer whose work has been published in various print magazines, including "Guideposts," "BackHome" and "Mother Earth News." Ries enjoys working on diverse topics, such as travel, animal rescue, health, how-to and home business.