The Best Organic Potting Soil for All Your Gardening Needs

Espoma Organic Potting Soil is our top pick for container gardening.

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Planting a young plant

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When you use organic potting soil, you can be sure you’re starting with a strong foundation for any container garden. You can also be sure you’re doing your part to be sustainable and support a healthy environment. 

Organic soil is often made up of decomposed, natural materials, which tends to have built-in benefits like having minerals, microorganisms, and other good nutrients. There are no chemicals added or unknown ingredients, promising to make your plants bigger and better. As you start looking for a good organic soil brand, be sure to check out local sources as well. Farms, landscape companies, and local garden centers will often create their own, which you can order by the bag or even in bulk.

For smaller areas and containers, here are some of the best organic potting soil options.

Best Overall: Espoma Organic Potting Mix

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Espoma Organic Potting Mix

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Espoma is a respected name in the gardening community with a special focus on organic gardening, which is why it's our top choice. The company offers more than a dozen different organic soil options. From seed starting to growing cacti, there's a range of mixtures to choose from. There's even have the option to buy specific compost like earthworm castings or mushroom compost.

Espoma potting mix is a good all-around option for containers and includes sphagnum peat moss, humus, and perlite. It’s also fortified with earthworm castings to give your container plants a good start, without any synthetic fertilizers.

This soil and all the Espoma products are a great way to garden more organically. We also like the company's overall commitment to sustainability, including installing solar, using a plant-based resin on many of its fertilizer bags, and zero waste manufacturing.

Best for Vegetables: Burpee Premium Organic Potting Mix

Burpee Premium Organic Potting Mix

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Burpee’s premium potting soil is an affordable, reliable option for gardeners. It includes organic plant food as part of the mix, which will feed plants for up to three months. It’s perfect for flowers, veggies, and herbs, whether you’re gardening in containers, raised beds, or starting seeds.

The soil itself has coconut coir, which will help retain moisture and water less. Burpee is known for being an excellent source for all things veggie gardening and has committed to having an entire line of organics, including seeds, plants, and soils.

Best Budget: Gardener’s Supply Company Organic Self-Watering Potting Mix

Gardener’s Supply Company Organic Self-Watering Potting Mix

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Gardener’s Supply Company is one of the most trusted names in gardening, especially when ordering online. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this self-watering potting mix. This 20-quart bag is designed to have good aeration and water-holding capacity. It’s especially effective in self-watering containers, further reducing your need to water. The soil has microbes called Mycorrhizae, which works to promote strong roots, boost nutrients, increase water uptake, and improve drought tolerance. If you’ve never tried Gardener’s Supply Company, definitely take a chance.

Best for Succulents: Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

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Hoffman is another company that has gained a lot of respect in the organic gardening world. This blend has been specifically created with cacti and succulents in mind. It’s airy, lightweight, and has just the right pH balance for growing these popular plants. The organic ingredients include Canadian sphagnum, peat moss, reed sedge peat, perlite, sand, and limestone. You can use it straight out of the bag, so it’s ready to go right away.

It’s a great choice for those of you who want to go beyond a general potting mix as you’re looking for a good blend for these specialized plants.

"I like to keep some Hoffman succulent soil mix on hand to top-up my houseplants. It helped me revive a very sad ZZ plant, and I've also had success using it re-pot a snake plant. I'm happy to say both plants are still thriving." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Senior Editor

Best Premium: Brut Super Soil

Brut Super Soil

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Think of this super soil as the perfect boost to your existing soil. It’s considered a soil concentrate, meaning you can mix it in with what you have to immediately increase the microbes and overall nutrients. Some of the natural ingredients in this soil include worm castings, composted cow manure, mycorrhizal fungi, azomite, granite dust, and kelp. Then some of the nutrients include magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, sulfide, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

This company also has a potting soil and a pure worm castings product available, so check those out if they sound like a better fit. But this one is perfect for those looking to boost the quality of your current soil.

Best without Perlite: FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil

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FoxFarm soil is quite popular among gardeners. Once you discover this soil, it’ll likely always have a place in your garden. It combines a mix of good things from both the earth and the sea, mixing everything from earthworm castings and bat guano, to fish and crabs.

Along with composted forest humus, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat poss, it has a light, aerated texture you can use for many gardening scenarios. The soil pH sits around 6.3 to 6.8, which is a great, general level to allow good nutrient and fertilizer absorptions. As your plants get bigger, consider combining an organic fertilizer with this soil, and you’ll get optimal results.

Best for Indoor Plants: Dr. Earth All Purpose Potting Soil

Dr. Earth All Purpose Potting Soil

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This all-purpose potting soil is perfect for containers inside or outside. You can use it to fill your pots or as an amendment to existing pots, containers, or raised beds. Some of the ingredients include alfalfa meal, wild-caught fish bone, cold water kelp, peat moss, composted greens, fishbone meal, dolomite lime, and other organic materials. The added microbes you get with this soil will ensure a healthy, rich start for your plants.

The soil is also certified safe for both people and pets, so you don’t have to worry about your furry friends. Look for it online or at your local garden center. 

Best for Seed Starting: Purple Cow Organics Seed Starter Mix

Purple Cow Organics Seed Starter Mix

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When you’re starting plants from seeds, you’ll take any advantage you can get. This seed-starting mix from Purple Cow is one of the best, helping ensure you have better germination, healthy seeds, and strong transplants. This compost-based mixture has built-in fertilizer that is good for 45 days. This is ample time to start your seeds and get them moved to their next growing spot.

A good seed-starting mix can make all the difference for establishing a good garden. Spend a little more in this area, which will ultimately save you money long-term.

Final Verdict

If you haven’t tried out Gardener’s Supply Company yet, test them out with their Gardener’s Supply Company Self-Watering Potting Mix. Otherwise, you can find at least a dozen options, including this Espoma Organic Soil with the well-known, organic gardening brand.

What to Look for in Organic Potting Soil

Ingredients 

This is the most important thing to look for when trying to find a good organic potting soil. The product should absolutely list the ingredients in the bag. You might not necessarily recognize every single item listed, but you should be able to pronounce it and get a general sense of what’s inside. If you’re unsure, google it. And if it sounds like something odd, unusual, or potentially chemical-based, it might be best to skip the brand altogether. A lot of times, simple is best. You want to see ingredients like bat guano, manure, and worm castings on there. This indicates natural ingredients, which should be plentiful in organic soil. 

Size 

With buying soil, go big! It’s easy to think you’ve bought plenty, and then before you know it, you’re running low but still have four containers to go. Companies tend to list quantity in all different ways, so make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you’re shopping for soil. It’s easy to see how much you’re getting when you’re in person or at a store, but it’s much harder to figure this out online. Look at the overall weight of units you’re buying to make sure you order enough. 

Source 

Look up the company online or on their website. Do they list where their organic materials come from? Not all will, but transparency tends to be a good sign. This alone can be a great indicator of the quality of organic matter, thus the quality of the soil overall. Companies that are certified organic and have a history in the organic gardening community are proud of this. They will often put this information front and center, so be on the lookout for it. 

Purpose 

Look for the purpose of the soil right on the bag. Is it a general potting soil? Is it a concentrated product that should be mixed with general soil? Is it created with something specific in mind like indoor plants, veggies, or even starting seeds? This can make a difference in your overall success, especially if you need potting soil with a specific pH or a different blend overall (more sandy for instance). Read the fine print. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Does organic potting soil go bad or expire?

    While some people will recommend keeping potting soil for a limited time, it’s often fine to use it even years after you’ve purchased it. Do the smell and visual test, making sure it doesn’t smell bad and ensuring there are no weird growths or insects that have infested it. If you have potting soil that is a year or two old and it looks (and smells) fine, try mixing it with new soil to stretch your dollar.

  • Can you use organic potting soil in garden beds?

    Yes, you can, though the general rule of thumb is that garden beds should be made up of potting soil, compost, and top soil at a ratio of around 10/30/60. This means a bed made up entirely of potting soil might not be the best mix for your outdoor plants. If you have a large area to fill, look into a good, organic soil source in your area so you can order in bulk. Ordering soil in bulk also has the advantage of cutting down on packaging.

  • Is organic potting soil sterile?

    Having sterile soil is actually a myth and isn’t all that important. It’s pretty much impossible to get an all-sterile soil because there’s so much exposure to microbes happening with soil at all times, even airborne. In fact, many microorganisms are beneficial to soil and plants, so you don't need to worry about getting rid of them. Instead, just focus on getting a good quality, and this should get you going in the right direction. 

Why Trust Treehugger?

To make this list, we combine and gardening expertise with deep market research. Our team also shares their our first-hand knowledge and experience with organic products.

The author, Stacy Tornio, is a gardening expert who has been growing with organic soil for years. She gets her base soil from a local compost company where she and then supplements with some of the ones on this list, especially for her containers.