How to Make Potting Compost


Plants that are grown in containers require very rich soil that contains a lot of organic materials. The best way to get organic materials for planting is to use compost, but container plants cannot be planted in regular garden compost due to the fact that garden compost tends to hold more moisture and less air than potted plants need. Producing a special mix of potting soil compost can help to overcome many problems that potted plants sometimes face. With proper nutrition, plants can grow strong, healthy and resistant to disease.

Step 1

Layer the compost bin with several 1- to 2-inch layers of various composting materials, such as shredded leaves, garden waste, grass clippings, shredded paper, coffee grinds and livestock manure, spraying each layer with water after each addition. Alternate these layers with 1-inch of topsoil for every two or three layers. Continue layering until the bin is no more than two thirds full.

Step 2

Mix the ingredients in the compost bin using the pitch fork, shovel or--if the bin is equipped as a tumbling bin--by tumbling the bin until the materials are mixed well.

Step 3

Turn or tumble the bin every week and add water as needed to keep the compost moist. In the summer, if temperatures reach more than 140 degrees F in the middle of the compost pile, the materials can be mixed two or three times per week, which will speed up the process.

Step 4

Check the compost for consistency and after six weeks to four months--depending on the temperature and conditions in and around the compost bin--the compost should turn to a dark, crumbly, sweet smelling black dirt. When it has reached this stage it is ready to use.

Step 5

Mix one part compost with two parts sphagnum peat moss and one part perlite. Remove any large chunks of un-composted materials from the compost while mixing these materials together. These are pieces that have not fully decomposed and if allowed to be in the potting mix, can rob the growing plant of nitrogen while it continues the decomposition process. After the mixing process, the soil is ready to use.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Compost bin
  • Dried, shredded leaves and yard waste
  • Kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Spent coffee grinds and tea bags
  • Shredded paper
  • Crass clippings
  • Livestock manure
  • Pitchfork or shovel
  • Water


  • University of Vermont Extension: Organic potting mixes
  • University of Minnesota: Composting and mulching
  • University of Florida: Composting center
Keywords: making potting compost, potting compost mix, composting potting soil

About this Author

Robin Lewis Montanye is a freelance artist, designer and writer. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, national magazines and on several self-help areas of the web. Montanye specializes in gardening articles with information from several universities. She has Internet articles published on, and