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The Quick and Dirty Guide to Effective Soil Amendments

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Soil amendments are various materials mixed into the soil your plants are growing in, in order to improve plant health and growth. They’re also called soil conditioners, and they can be used in outdoor or indoor gardens. Potting soil typically comes balanced with the nutrients your plant needs, but over time amendments may need to be added. Here’s the quick and dirty guide to effective soil amendments so you know which ones your plants need.

Purposes for soil amendments

Before you go out and buy a soil amendment for your indoor plants, you need to know what each type does. They are not just general nutrients that you toss into the container with your plant and get amazing results. The wrong things added to your soil can seriously harm your specimens. Here’s a rundown of the various purposes for soil amendments.

  • Increase the pH level of soil (how acidic the soil is)
  • Reduce soil pH level
  • Increase nitrogen levels
  • Increase phosphorous levels
  • Increase trace minerals
  • Improve water retention
  • Improve water flow to roots

As you’ve probably guessed, there’s no one soil amendment that can do all these things, so you need to select the amendment or amendments that cater to your plants’ needs.

Selecting the indoor garden amendments you need

Let’s break up those soil amendment purposes into three groups, those for pH levels, those for nutrients, and those for water levels in the soil. Your indoor garden may need something from each of these groups, depending on your setup and what type of soil you use. Or you may only need one item to optimize your soil.

Soil pH levels

Potting soil generally starts at a reasonable pH level for growing most plants. That being said, different plants require different levels, and even slight variances can make a big difference. So find out what level your plant prefers, and test your soil with a soil pH test kit. You can then find organic solutions that can be mixed into the soil to help reduce or increase pH levels, depending on whether the soil is too alkaline or too acidic.

Nutrients for growth

The primary nutrients your indoor garden needs are nitrogen and phosphorous, and these are both used up by the plant and typically need to be replaced in the soil. Most plants only need phosphorous amendments early in the growing cycle. You will likely use nitrogen fertilizers, like organic blood meal or neem cake, more often to boost your plants’ health. There are also a variety of organic fertilizers available that will boost trace minerals, less talked about but certainly important to maximizing the health of your garden. They’re like the multivitamin for plants.

Water levels in the soil

You likely try to set up the most efficient indoor garden possible. But no container or soil combination is perfect. You may end up with some specimens that don’t retain enough water around the roots and others that don’t drain well enough. When you can’t repot, soil amendments can help. Use a charcoal supplement to absorb extra water for pots that aren’t draining well. And try vermiculite additive to help retain water around the roots.

If you’re confused or need more information, don’t stress. Chat with our garden experts at Indoor Cultivator.


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