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PortWatch

January 29, 2014

Tim's Tips: Choose your potting soil wisely

Last week, I told you about fungus gnats on your houseplants. One of the things that can contribute to an increase in the number of fungus gnats is keeping the soil too moist. If the soil remains too moist, it may not be your fault.

If you read this column, you probably know what potting soil is used for when you garden. There are many different companies making potting soil.

Over the years, I have seen the evolution of potting soil from dirt added to a bag to a scientifically blended product that is specifically designed for a particular type of plant. You can find potting soils that are for cactus, and you can find soils that are specifically for African violets.

There are potting soils that are great for growing plants outdoors in containers. The soils that are best for growing plants in containers outdoors are probably not the best for growing houseplants. Let me tell you why this is the case.

Take a moment to think about growing plants outdoors in containers. The biggest challenge is keeping the soil moist during the summer months. The sun and wind can dry out the soil.

To overcome this problem, many of the potting soils that work well for growing plants outdoors have things added to the soil that help retain water. There can be granules that are added to the soil that hold water, or there may be materials added that hold water in the soil. Either way, the flowers or vegetables that you grow outside get the extra water that they need.

Your houseplants, on the other hand, don’t need as much water. Yes, they may be getting a lot of sun in your home, but they definitely aren’t exposed to the wind. If they are exposed to the wind this time of the year, you may want to consider buying new windows!

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