• Greeny_Lab


Bijgewerkt op: 13 feb.

The Internet throws you to death with it, all kinds of different mediums for your plants to root or grow in. But which is which? And where do you use it for?

When I first started growing houseplants I used potting soil from the local supermarket and soon I started having problems. The potting soil stayed wet for a long time and crumbled together, resulting in a weak root system and ultimately in an unhealthy plant.

This has led me to research and test out all kinds of products. In this blog I will give you a basic explanation of several growmediums. I will also tell you about my experiences with them, both the good and the bad. Just keep on reading!


Normal potting soil

What do I define as normal potting soil? The basic potting soil that you can find in the supermarket as well as in the garden center. Without additives such as perlite or charcoal (I'll come back to these later).

Potting soil contains peat, and peat is not exactly sustainable. This is one of the reasons why I stopped using potting soil a long time ago - there are also bio-potting soil products nowadays, but I don't know the ins and outs of this -.

Peat is extracted from peat moorlands. An area that has been extracted of peat restores only after thousands of years, so the flora and fauna are terribly disturbed. Moreover, when we drain the peat we release a lot of CO2, which in turn contributes to global warming.


The name implies this, it is made up of coconut fibers! It's a lot airier than potting soil and better for the environment, at least....

Cococoir may be a waste product from coconuts, but it is not directly usable as soil. First it has to be rinsed with a chemical and a lot of water. However, if you look carefully - and pay a little more - there are companies who process cococoir with little damaging to the environment. Unfortunately it still has to be transported from the tropics to here.

I myself always use coconut soil as the basis for my mixes. I add perlite, tree bark, active charcoal and worm poo. I adjust the amount per plant, you can read more about this on my instgram, under the highlight soil

LECA balls

LECA balls (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) are round, clay based, sand-colored granules. They are often used as a drainage layer at the bottom of the planter because they absorb water. Not only from the potting soil, but from the roots as well. This reduces the risk of "over-watering" your plant. You can also use LECA balls without potting soil, we call this semi hydro. In principle this has the same function as plant substrate. Click here if you want to learn more about this subject


Perlite is a volcanic glass that is heated to 871 degrees Celsius, after which it pops out like popcorn and expands to 13 times its original size, resulting in an incredibly lightweight material. In addition, it can hold and release water as soon as the plant demands it. This makes perlite very suitable for mixing with potting soil or cococoir. You can also use it to root cuttings, you can read more about this in this post.

I myself use perlite a lot. I always mix it with my cococoir and use it mostly to root cuttings in. My experience is that it results in a stronger and healthier root system.


Huh, water? Can I grow plants in this stuff? Yes you can!

You have probably rooted a cutting in water before, the advantage of this is that you can see how the roots grow, yet most people repot the cutting after a while in another medium. While this is not necessary! A plant can continue to grow on water, but only if you change the water regularly and add nutrition. Choose a nutrition that is suitable for plants on water.

Spagnum moss

Spagnum moss is usually in the form of compressed and dried packets. After adding water, it creates a fluffly light weight moss. It is commonly used for orchids and anthuriums. Personally I only use it for rooting cuttings. The moss holds water well, but does not become soggy, so the chance of root rot is small.

Mineral substrate

Mineral plant substrate is also known as 'pon'. There are many brands that sell mineral plant substrate, for example Seramis and Lechuza Pon. Pon is an excellent substitute for potting soil or coconut soil. It consists of a mixture of rubble, lava and/or clay pebbles (varies by brand). Pon 'behaves' like a buffer: It absorbs water and nutrients and releases them when needed. In other words, the 'pon' absorbs the water from the water reservoir and releases it when the plant is thirsty.

I myself have had both good and bad experiences with pon, root rot was a common problem for me. But since I've been using pon in combination with elho's self-watering pot, things are much better. Click here if you want to learn more about this topic


I am incredibly curious about your experiences! Share them in a comment.

Or visit @Greeny_Lab for more inspiration!

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