The Hidden Costs of Cheap Potting Mix: A Guide to Smarter Gardening Choices

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Potting Mix: A Guide to Smarter Gardening Choices

Feb 08, 2024Nate Littlewood

As we wander through the aisles of big-box retailers, the allure of budget-friendly gardening supplies can be tempting. Among these, cheap potting mix often appears as a savvy choice for those looking to save.

Unfortunately the true cost of this seemingly economical option extends far beyond the initial price tag. In this article, we’ll dig into the hidden costs of cheap potting mix, and make the case as to why paying more up front might very well save you money in the long term.

Beyond the Bargain: The True Value of Quality Potting Mix

1. The Price of Poor Ingredients

The bedrock of any thriving plant is its soil. Opting for low-cost potting mixes can lead to a host of issues, from inadequate water retention to poor aeration.

Have you ever heard the term 'we are what we eat?'. Well consider what your plants 'eat'. They are feeding on the nutrients and materials in the soil. The soil becomes a plant, and the plant goes into your body. 

Here at Urban Leaf we have a pretty stringent screening process that ensures only premium quality soils with ingredients you can trust make it onto our (digital) shelves. 

2. Nutrient Deficiencies: More Than Just Dirt

Plants thrive on a balanced diet, something cheap potting mixes often lack. Products like Rosy Soil's Potting Mix with Biochar is not just soil; it's a nutrient-rich foundation that supports your plants from the ground up, eliminating the need for constant supplementation and ensuring your greenery stays vibrant and healthy. If your plants do need a nutrient top up (which is likely the case for fruit and vegetable growers), we recommend an organic fertilizer or worm poop.

3. Uninvited Guests: Pests and Diseases

Another downside of inexpensive mixes is their susceptibility to pests and diseases. By choosing sterilized and carefully formulated options like these, you can safeguard your garden against these unwelcome intruders, ensuring your plants remain pristine.

4. Balancing Act: The Importance of pH

The absorption of nutrients is heavily influenced by the pH level of your potting mix. Low quality soils may struggle to maintain the optimal pH balance, thus making it difficult for the plants to optimize their nutrient uptake.

5. Water Management Mastery

Whether it’s retaining moisture for hydration or draining excess to prevent root rot, the ability of a potting mix to manage water is crucial. The soils Urban Leaf offers are designed to achieve this delicate balance, ensuring your plants remain perfectly quenched without the risk of overwatering.

6. Eco-Conscious Gardening

Traditional potting mixes are made from peat moss, the mining and recovery of which releases more carbon into the atmosphere than the global airline industry. Coco coir is better, but it's washing (to remove salts) if very water intensive. We are a fan of biochar based potting mixes, that not only have the benefit of actually capturing carbon, but also offer a host of other plant health benefits. To learn more about this check out our recent interview with Chad Masura, founder of Rosy Soil on YouTube.

Considering DIY?

For those who love a DIY approach or seek to further personalize their gardening experience, crafting your own potting soil can be a rewarding endeavor. Check out our guide on Making Your Own Potting Soil if you'd like to learn more! 

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