Perfect for philodendrons, monsteras, pothos, and more!
As a beginner, all of my houseplants were potted in the same soil – Miracle Gro potting mix (*shudders* – more on that later). The idea that different plants needed different types of soil in order to grow best honestly wasn’t even on my radar. However, just as certain plants require more sunlight or more water than others – they also require different soil conditions. Now, I make sure to pot my plants in soil mixes that are designed for their unique needs. This DIY chunky soil mix is perfect for aroids and any plant that requires good drainage, aeration, and high organic content.
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Aroids are plants in the family Araceae and are common as houseplants. Popular aroids include philodendrons, pothos, monsteras, ZZ plants, peace lilies, and more. In their natural habitat, aroids are forest understory plants and generally tolerate low light well. They require soil that is porous but also retains water and is high in organic content.
This DIY soil mix for aroids checks all of those boxes and is also easy to make with ingredients you can find anywhere!
- Peat moss
- Orchid bark/orchid bark mix
- (Optional) All purpose potting soil
Generally, I will mix 1 part peat moss, 1 part orchid bark (or an orchid bark mix which usually contains peat and horticultural charcoal) and 1 part perlite with a dash of the all purpose potting soil. I like to mix a big batch together so I have some readily available at all times.
Don’t worry too much about the exact ratio of the ingredients though! You can even change up the ratios depending on the exact plant you are working with. Understanding the role that each of these ingredients plays in the overall composition of the soil will help you to make those decisions:
Peat moss: Nutrient rich and great for water retention, peat moss is an organic material comprised of dead fibrous material. It helps to provide water and nutrients to the plant’s roots.
Orchid bark/orchid mix: Orchid bark and orchid bark mixes are typically used as potting medium for orchids – as the name suggests. Orchid bark is chunky and helps to provide aeration in this soil mix and it is also rich in nutrients thanks to the organic content. As mentioned, you can use either pure orchid bark or an orchid bark mix which usually contains amendments other than bark such as horticultural charcoal, lava rock, and/or peat and perlite. I have used both successfully, but usually choose an orchid bark mix so my plants get all the added benefits of charcoal (provides oxygen and absorbs excess moisture).
Perlite: Used to help prevent soil compaction and increase drainage, perlite has high permeability and low water retention. It is a naturally occurring volcanic glass.
All purpose potting soil: Depending on the consistency of the chunky soil mix once the other ingredients have been added, I will usually add a handful or so of all purpose potting soil (I stay away from Miracle Gro as a rule). This isn’t always necessary, but I find it helps to make the soil mixture more loamy if it’s feeling dry.
Optional: Extra Additives
If you feel like taking your chunky soil mix to the next level, there are a couple of additives that will help to increase the nutrient content in the soil. You can find most of these natural fertilizers at your local nursery or garden centre as well as online. Some of them, like compost, can even be made at home!
- Worm castings
- Fish emulsion
- Bone meal