Friday, July 22, 2011

soil in pots - cost vs quality

One the most difficult aspects of my balcony garden is balancing cost and quality. Like any interest or passion, it's as expensive as we want to make it - and soil can be an expensive part of the set up.

Here in Malaysia, we can find some really cheap 2kg bags of soil in the supermarket for only RM2.50. It's fantastic, especially if you're filling up a very large tub. The only problem is that water retention is low, and although they have some nutrients, they run out of them quickly.

So how can we maximise our plant potential and keep costs low?

On my balcony, most of my plants have cheap soil, because it's what I can afford. However, I'm constantly having to water thirsty plants - the hibiscus and herbs such a basil are particularly thirsty. To completely replace all the soil is out of the question. So, I've replaced the top layer with a clay soil or a mulch. They both allow the water to come through, but slows down evaporation from the pot.

For new plants, I'll choose the soil according to the plant's needs.

Thirsty plants/plants that don't like dry roots:
- invest in good quality rich soil - it saves so much time walking in and out with the watering can.

Plants that don't like wet roots or don't need a lot of water (such as aloe vera)
- the cheap soil is fine. It's got good drainage and doesn't rot the roots. Just need to add fertiliser from time to time.

What soil do you like using for your pot plants?


  1. Hi Nicola
    I use the basic soil bags from tescos,rm1.69 a bag, they are fine soil but great as small enough to carry home and big enough for the pots. My balcony is 22 floors up in JB and I love it, I have two pond one flowing into the other via waterfall and home made bio filter that keep the water crystal clean using the roots of plants to filter the water.

    Love your blog - Just found online will follow.'

    thanks and keep up the good blog.

    my blog is about my life as an Expat living the good life in Johor bahru.

    regards John

  2. Hi John,
    Thanks for commenting. I'd love to see photos of your balcony. Have you got them on your blog?
    What is your blog address? I'd love to read it.