Homemade Potting Soil


Potting soil not only provides a place for container plants to set down their roots, it also must provide adequate nutrition, drainage and moisture holding capabilities for the plants to thrive. Soil straight from the garden isn't suitable as a potting soil. It is often filled with weed seeds and disease organisms that can plague any plant planted in it. Making a homemade potting soil that is suitable for most plants requires combining the proper, sterile components together to create the best soil environment possible.

Step 1

Sift compost or garden soil through a piece of window screen material. Remove any roots, uncomposted chunks of material and rocks from the compost or soil, keeping only the fine textured material.

Step 2

Place the soil or compost into a roasting pan and sprinkle it with water until it is evenly moist. Cover the soil with a sheet of foil and stick an oven thermometer through the foil and into the soil.

Step 3

Place the soil in a preheated 200 degree Fahrenheit oven. Bake until the soil reaches an internal temperature of 140 to 180 Fahrenheit, then maintain this temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the soil to cool to room temperature.

Step 4

Mix the sterilized compost or soil with one part peat moss, which helps maintain proper moisture levels in the mix, and one part sand or vermiculite, which prevents the mix from becoming soggy or waterlogged.

Step 5

Mix a complete fertilizer into the potting soil at the rate recommended on the fertilizer bag. Alternately, add 1 ¼ cup agricultural limestone, 1 cup 5-10-5 analysis fertilizer and ½ cup superphosphate fertilizer per every two bushels of homemade potting soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not reuse the pan or thermometer in the kitchen. Also, open windows and turn on ventilation fans when sterilizing the soil as it may cause odors or gases.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil or compost
  • Pan
  • Foil
  • Thermometer
  • Peat moss
  • Vermiculite
  • Fertilizer
  • Limestone
  • Superphosphate


  • University of Illinois Extension: Growing Media
  • New Mexico State University: Homemade Potting Soil
Keywords: homemade potting soil, sterilizing soil, potting mix recipe

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.