I'm interested in making my own container soil for some potted citrus and figs as well as something that'll work for other house plants. I've heard of Al's Gritty Mix. Does anyone have a mix that's worked well for them over a several year period?

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  • These seem decent but will they be long-lasting?
    – Tim Clymer
    Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 23:40
  • I use a mixture sold at a gardening shop, I think they are okay. Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 1:09
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    I made $2 breathable pots out of chicken wire and burlap. Supposedly good for aeration. Make a cylinder of the chicken cage wire, weave together with galv. steel wire. Make 4 cuts at equal distances on one end. Fold like a you would a cardboard box without tape. Line the interior with burlap or cheap fabric and pin it using the galv. wire. Sewing the bottom box-fold is optional since the weight of the soil will hold it, but if you need to move the pot... Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 21:57
  • So have you tried anything, and are you able to tell us what worked best for your case?
    – J. Chomel
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


Below is a good general purpose container soil mix formula I've heard mentioned on a few different gardening podcasts that I listen to:

  • ⅓ sharp sand
  • ⅓ screened high quality top soil/loam
  • ⅓ high quality compost
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    I can never agree sand...there are industrial sea sand and river sand. If mistaken, the cons will be serious. And people just can't distingush them by looking. I will suggest perlite and vermiculite. Commented May 24, 2012 at 2:29
  • Stupid question: Which is the good one? I'm pondering making my own soil and I have the pacific at my doorstep. Is rinsed sea sand good or bad? And why would it be bad? Isn't it just for aeration and silicon?
    – Mantriur
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 1:36
  • Look closely at the sand grains. they should have sharp edges, like salt crystals. If edges are rounded, like the grains have been through a rock tumbler, it's the wrong stuff. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 13:18

Al's Gritty mix is:

For most kind of woody plants

The basic mix is 1:1:1, pine bark fines:Turface:crushed granite. It's perfect to grow that go 2-3 years between repots.

It's a little different for houseplants

(note that the 3 parts of all the primary ingredients still works out to a 1:1:1 ratio).

  • 3 parts pine or fir bark fines
  • 3 parts Turface MVP (or equal)
  • 3 parts crushed granite (turkey or chicken grit - not crushed shellfish)
  • 1 part vermiculite
  • 1 part coarse silica sand
  • 1 tbsp gypsum/gallon of soil (1/2 cup per cu ft) -- if you use gypsum instead of lime, add 1/8 tsp Epsom salts/gallon of water each time you fertilize

Some tips:

  • If you want to increase water retention, use 4 parts Turface and 2 parts granite, To reduce water retention, use 4 parts granite & 2 parts Turface. If you vary the recipe to suit yourself, try to keep the organic component at 1/3 or less. No peat/coir is necessary or even desirable in this mix.

  • Though there are a few exceptions, most plants will perform extremely well if you use a 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6, are all examples).

  • Fertilizing frequently at lower doses works better.

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