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Potting Soil Recipe for Annuals

High in nutrients, this mix pumps out the flowers without extra feeding

Fine Gardening - Issue 125

Just as creating a healthy soil environment is crucial for your in-ground plants, providing a suitable growing medium for your container plants is a key factor to success. Most gardeners do fine with bagged container mixes available at the nursery, but these one-size-fits-all options might not be the best options, especially if you are growing plants, like annuals with specific soil needs.

Making your own container soil might sound like a lot of unnecessary work, but it can improve your plants’ performance. And because these mixes have the optimal amount of nutrients and proper drainage, they reduce the amount of time you spend feeding and caring for your containers. And in the end, your container designs are only as good as the soil you fill your pots with. Insufficient soil, with too little drainage or too little nutrients will cause your plants to suffer and decline, never reaching  their full potential.

The following recipe can be mixed in a wheelbarrow or garden cart and tweaked based on your needs or what is available to you. You can also save time and money by purchasing the items in bulk and making large batches to set aside for a later date or to share with your gardening friends.


1 part expanded slate
1 part composted chicken manure
1 part worm castings
1 part composted pine bark
1 part coarse river sand

Because the worm castings and chicken manure provide enough nutrients to last throughout the season and the pine bark continues to increase fertility as it decomposes, this mix requires little or no extra feeding on your part.


—Robert (Bobby) Saul has degrees in horticulture and agronomy from the University of Georgia, and he ran a landscaping business before opening a nursery. Along with his brother, he owns Saul Nurseries, ItSaul Plants, and ItSaul Natural (a soil company).

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