What is Compressed Potting Soil?

Sprouts growing from starter pots

With so many choices of planting and gardening options, it can be confusing to fully understand what you need and why some products may be a better choice over others. No worries, every gardener, everywhere, is always learning!

Have you heard about Compressed Potting Soil?  Yes, yet another awesome addition to a plant lover’s essentials!

Compressed soil packaging with product in a bowl on a sheet of newspaper

What is Compressed Potting Soil?

Imagine adding water to a small amount of potting soil and moments later it has expanded up to 4 times! That is exactly what happens with compressed potting soil. No more lugging big, messy, heavy bags of potting soil when you use compressed potting soil. It is kind of magical!

The dirt on compressed potting soil…

  • A little goes a long way.  Once moist, compressed potting soil can expand up to 4x!
  • Only mix what you need and store the rest!
  • Takes up very little space and is easy to store!
  • Not messy!
  • Not heavy!
  • Generally doesn’t attract pests, fungus, etc because the mixture is dehydrated and sterilized before packaging!
  • Helps maintain healthy soil moisture and aeration, meaning more time between waterings and happier roots!
  • Helps rehabilitate poor soil!
  • Compact size means reduced packaging and waste!
  • Reduced shipping dimensions equals reduced emissions!
Two hands lifting potted soil from a bowl

May contain…

  • Coconut Coir
  • Peat Moss
  • Beneficial Microorganisms
  • Worm Castings
  • Compost
  • Perlite
  • Mycorrhizae
  • Plant Food

Read more about potting soil in our latest blog post 'Does Potting Soil Go Bad'

Can you use Compressed Potting Soil for Succulents?

Succulents in a pot on a table

Succulents need well draining soil, so most potting soils, including compressed potting soil, just won’t do!  The good news is that you can whip up your own succulent and cacti potting soil by mixing…

  • ⅓ compressed potting soil
  • ⅓ coarse sand
  • ⅓ perlite or pumice

Translating this into cups… 3 cups hydrated compressed potting soil, 3 cups of sand, and 3 cups of perlite or pumice, all in equal parts.

Be mindful of the fragile succulent root systems when transplanting and make sure that your pot of choice has plenty of drain holes.  Terra cotta pots, which are porous, are great for beginners. Avoiding root rot is essential with succulents and with the right potting soil mix and the right pot, succulents can be the easiest ‘no kill’ plants for every plant lover.

Can you use Compressed Potting Soil for Indoor Plants?

A woman in a yellow top holding an indoor plant in a pot

Absolutely!  Compressed potting soil has many benefits, like longer time between watering, promoting healthy root growth, and if you choose a soil with beneficial microorganisms, your houseplants will grow bigger, more vibrant, healthier foliage.  Compressed soil can be used as is or mixed with coarse sand, perlite or pumice for those indoor plants that require well-draining, loose soil or are prone to root rot.

The best place to start is to research what your indoor plant’s soil and water needs are, and then make adjustments from there. We like to think of houseplants by their watering requirements… low, moderate, high watering requirement. This can help any level plant lover avoid common pitfalls, diseases and loss of their beloved houseplants.

  • Low Watering Requirement: These plants thrive in dry, more coarse, well draining soil.  Houseplants such as Snake plant, ZZ plant, Cacti, and Succulents fall into this category.  Additions like perlite, pumice, sand and even unscented kitty litter are perfect additions to compressed soil for these plants.  Avoid bark, because it holds onto moisture, which is counterproductive to low watering requirements.
  • Moderate Watering Requirement: Most of the plants in this category are from the tropics. Plants like Pothos, Philodendron, and Monstera love to be not too wet and not too dry, and they prefer that their soil dries out in between waterings. Additions, like a balance of perlite or coarse sand, which helps the compressed potting soil increase its porosity and ability to drain properly, are essential for these well balanced plants with moderate watering needs.
  • High Watering Requirement: On the far end of the watering spectrum are those plants, like Ferns, Calatheas, Peace Lily, that love humidity and moisture. They thrive in 100% compressed potting soil with lots of organic matter like compost and worm castings, with little to no perlite, pumice or sand.

As always, know what your plant needs and then go from there. It is super helpful to keep plant ID tags, and even create a note card of which plants need what to grow up to be happy healthy additions to your indoor space.

Can you use Compressed Potting Soil for your garden?

Sprouts growing from starter pots

Yes you can! In fact, adding compressed potting soil to your garden soil can be a gardening game changer.  When added to your existing garden soil, compressed potting soil increases organic matter, helps maintain proper moisture levels in the root zone, helps retain nutrients that may otherwise leach away, and overall it helps improve soil structure.

If you have heavy, clay soil that tends to get waterlogged, adding a good compressed soil with a coconut coir base can help improve soil structure and increase soil aeration. On the other hand, adding coconut coir to sandy soil that doesn’t hold moisture, can help maintain proper water retention and act like a sponge, holding water in the root zone, providing adequate water on demand for your plants.

You can mix compressed potting soil with your garden soil by…

  • Mixing a handful of either dry or hydrated compressed soil into planting holes.
  • Digging a planting trough in your garden, filling it in with hydrated compressed soil and planting directly into the fresh compressed soil.
  • Topdressing existing plants with a few handfuls of either dry or hydrated compressed soil to help improve soil structure.
  • Mixing either dry or hydrated compressed soil into a new garden plot along with other beneficial soil amendments like compost, leaf matter, untreated lawn clippings, worm castings, kelp, bone meal and other sources of organic nutrients.

Can you use Compressed Potting Soil for your Vegetables?

Range of vegetables in plastic crates

You can absolutely use compressed potting soil for your vegetables!  It is actually the best way to start your seeds and transplant veggies, fruits, herbs and flowers. A high quality compressed potting soil is perfect from seed to harvest for nearly all vegetables.

Starting seeds in compressed potting soil allows for proper root development, thus making transplanting more successful and providing amazing results overall. The texture and porosity of most compressed potting soil is perfect for even the tiniest of seeds. Compressed potting soil keeps the seed coat moist and protected until it is ready to sprout, and helps maintain proper moisture levels around the roots, ensuring your seedlings get what they need when they need it.

If seed starting is not your thing, compressed potting soil is even a great growing medium for container gardens and raised beds, when you are ready to transplant.  You can mix it with old potting soil, and with your existing garden soil. The beauty of using a quality compressed potting soil is that it can help rehabilitate old, spent, nutrient deficient soil. Avoid wasting what you already have, but rather reuse it and bring it back to life. This is especially true if you use a compressed soil that is loaded with the essentials and enhanced with beneficial microorganisms.

Adding seeds to pots filled with potting soil

Compressed potting soil is a great foundation for many annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and more.  Once again, knowing what you plants need to grow their best is the perfect place to start.

Is Compressed Potting Soil Poisonous?

While the ingredients in most compressed potting soil, especially coconut coir and peat moss, come from organic sources, not all compressed soils are created equal. While some compressed potting soils may not be poisonous, it is always smart to keep bags of soil away from children and pets. Why is that?  Well, pets and children are always quite curious and though it may not be toxic to them, it may not be best for them.  And if it does contain synthetic fertilizers, wetting agents, lime and a few other pet and child not so friendly ingredients, it is better to not risk it.

If your compressed potting soil of choice is organic, free of synthetic fertilizers, and other toxic ingredients, you may still want to play it safe and store it away from your loved ones.

A person picking up potting soil from a raised bed with a dog stood to the side

What ingredients should your compressed soil have in it? Look for…

  • Coconut Coir
  • Peat Moss
  • Worm Castings
  • Bone Meal
  • Kelp
  • Alfalfa Meal
  • Beneficial Microorganisms

Steering clear of toxic ingredients is not only safer for your pets and children, but it is safe for all, even wildlife, pollinators, beneficial insects, and us!

What is a Soil Block?

Soil blocks on newspaper

Soil blocking is an ingenious, minimal waste way to grow amazing seedlings with compressed soil. It is simple, requires no seed trays, and it helps seedlings avoid transplant shock. A soil block is a small compressed cube into which your tiniest of seeds can be planted, grow their best, then be transplanted with minimal root disruption. All it requires is compressed soil and a soil blocker!

Why use a soil block…

  • Reduces and even eliminates single use plastics.
  • It has been around for nearly 2,000 years.
  • Creates stronger root systems.
  • Less damage and stress when transplanting seedlings.
  • Saves space. In fact, you can fit 300 ¾ cubes onto one cookie sheet!

While soil blocking comes with a bit of a learning curve, it is well worth it on many levels!


Pair of hands holding compressed soil with packaging in the background

With so many options these days, there is no need to make things more complicated.  Learning what to use, when to use it and how to use it can make a world of difference in your plant and gardening experience.  While compressed potting soil is not the only soil alternative out there, it can be the perfect addition to your plant and gardening supplies!