The success of any indoor gardener starts with a soil able to provide to your herbs the nutrients and moist level they need. However, this is an aspect often neglected by gardeners. Indeed, they focus more on watering and lighting, forgetting that their herbs require soil with specific chemical and physical characteristics.
What is the best potting soil commercially available? The best potting soil as a compromise between quality and price is undoubtedly the Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil Bag (you can check its current price in Amazon). It is soil structure, and chemical content has done marvel for my herbs and for those of many other gardeners.
But what are the characteristics that make this potting mix my best favorite? Let’s dive-in!
Winning Mix Of Components
This potting present a light and airy structure, ideal for indoor application. This is obtained following a recipe that is close to the simple DIY discussed in one of my previous articles. If you are interested in creating your own potting mix, you can check it here.
Fox Farm FX14080 utilizes a mixture of Composted forest humus, sandy loam, peat moss, bat guano, vermicompost, seagoing fish and crab meal whose property and its impact on the soil are described below.
Composted Forest Humus
This increases the porosity of the soil, essential to facilitate the drainage and air circulation till the roots. It also presents excellent water retention properties to allow the release of water to the roots when they need it without waterlogging (this can be obtained also with water crystals, here for more). This component retains nutrients and releases slowly over time, necessary for healthy plant growth
This is a type of soil given by a combination of sand (>50%), clay and silt. This soil provides excellent drainage structure while clay and silt that improve nutrient retention. This is important, especially for beginner gardeners to avoid those nutrients to be washed away with watering making fertilization a less frequent process.
Due to the high component of sand, this soil alone would not be ideal for the potting plants. However, this explains the presence of forest humus.
This is one of the king ingredients in the top-notch soils. It has exceptionally high water retention capability releasing water only when needed by your plant. This is of great importance for beginner gardeners as this soil makes them more forgiving for watering mistakes (how to avoid overwatering read this 21 tips for massive growth article). Indeed, in the case of overwatering the excess will be “stored” in the soil without soaking the roots. In the case of underwatering, the water already in the soil (stored) will be released to the plant as required.
Bat guano, vermicompost, seagoing fish and crab meal: these are high-quality nutrients that increase the content of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus as well as other vital nutrients. Worm casting (or vermicompost) is pretty known among gardeners as the best natural fertilizer.
Mostly you have the benefit of earthworms without the trouble in having them (earthworms are not an excellent idea for potted plants, this article for more info). Bat guano has the advantage of accelerating the decomposition of organic matter in the soil, making nutrients quickly accessible to the plant. This soil composition is recommended to beginner gardeners as it is “ready to go” requiring only watering (no addition of fertilizer for a few months).
The pH Level
This soil has a pH level of around 6. This is ideal for the majority of indoor herbs as well as many other plants. For more info on the pH in which plants typically strive you can check this resource
5-Star Product For The Majority Of Gardener
Around 80% of this product review is a 5 star with a large number of gardeners with way more experience than myself highlighting the benefits of such potting mix.
Below you can find a summary of the most valuable opinions from more experienced gardeners that used the product:
- Immediate benefit: a few gardeners I have interviewed (one of them with more than 35 years of experience!) claimed how their houseplant shows immediate signs of improvement after a few days of a plant transplant using the Fox Farm FX14080 Ocean Forest Soil Bag. Those plants looked more sturdy and vigorous.
- Low maintenance: the gardeners I listened to also claimed, among the good points of such potting mix, its low maintenance. Indeed, having already a good balance of nutrients, it just required proper watering and no fertilizer of pH corrector (at least for the first few months or when the plant shows its need for nutrients).
As always in my review, I try to be honest and transparent as possible, hence time for the disadvantages. This potting soil in Amazon, apparently, is available for shipping only in Florida, Montana, and Indiana.
However, this does not imply that your local gardener shop does not have such brand of soil. Indeed, by looking at the company website, they show retailers all over the USA territory. This hence implies that the limitation is only on the Amazon platform.
Another aspect is that this product is more expensive than other competitors, as shown in the table where the most popular products are displayed.
|Name||Price (Price per quart)|
|Forest Soil Bag |
Miracle-GRO Potting Mix - Amazon
|$15.69 for 12 quarts ($1.31 per quart)|
Dr. Earth Pot of Gold All Purpose Potting Soil 8 qt
|$19.57 for 16 quarts ($1.25 per quart)|
|Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose||$8.97 for 8 quarts ($1.12 per quart)|
|Potting Soil With Control||$4.99 for 8 quarts ($0.63 per quart)|
However, considering that a bag provides around 13 liters of soil, the extra few dollars, compared to cheaper options, needed for the Fox Farm Forest Soil Bag (here an even larger one for more saving per liter on Amazon), in my opinion, are totally worth it.
Does potting soil come with pesticides? Yes, potting soil can come with pesticides. However, this is not the case of high-quality organic soils.
How long the potting soil last? Potting soil, if used, has a lifespan of around 2 years although many sustain that it can last way longer by improving its structure using for instance perlite to improve its structure. For more read this article on why and how often the potting soil should be changed.