Best Potting Soil for Herbs — Use The Right Potting Mix For Your Herbs

Last Updated on September 6, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Growing delicious herbs at home makes cooking gourmet dishes easier and gives you healthy flavors to your food. But some herbs can be difficult to grow, especially indoors or in a garden without direct sunlight. If you don’t have the right type of soil, your herbs might never reach their full growth and flavor potential.

Finding the best soil for your herbs can make or break your herb garden. But there’s more to know about growing herbs, so make sure to read our tips and get those aromatic plants growing!

If you’re in a hurry, these are the best soils for herbs:

  • FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil
  • Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix
  • Miracle-Gro Expand ‘N Gro Concentrated Planting Mix
  • Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil

Reviews of the Best Potting Soil for Herbs

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil

The FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is a favorite of many home gardeners thanks to its nutrient-dense mix. It includes crab meal, shrimp meal, and peat moss ingredients for a rich profile with nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and calcium for your herbs. Thanks to its micronutrient content, it also works well with other vegetables that need more nutrition.

It’s ideal for growing herbs in pots in indoor and outdoor environments, for container gardening as well as greenhouses.

The pH is between 6.3 and 6.8, nearly neutral, which helps your herbs draw as many nutrients and fertilizers from the soil as possible. It’s also well-aerated, so it lets your herbs grow their roots and gives them enough space to breathe.

The FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil is also natural and organic, so you’ll know it’s safe to use on your edible plants. However, some customers found spider mites in their soil upon opening. While this isn’t common, it can happen with natural products like this.

Another possible negative for some gardeners is the crustacean content in this potting soil. While it has plenty of nutrients, it’s not vegan, and some people have found it to be too “hot” for their delicate herbs’ roots. A couple of users have found it to cause nutrient burn, so it can be ideal for mixing it with ordinary garden soil.

Pros

  • Rich in micronutrients.
  • Organic.
  • Well-aerated.
  • Nearly neutral pH value.
  • Works in indoor and outdoor environments.

Cons

  • Some customers reported finding spider mites in the package.
  • Can be too hot in some conditions.

Espoma AP8 Organic Potting Mix

The Espoma Organic Potting Mix is another favorite for people planting an indoor or outdoor herb garden. It works on all types of containers, from small growing herbs in pots to full vegetable beds or greenhouses.

This potting soil mix contains peat moss, limestone, earthworm castings and alfalfa, kelp, and feather meal. These ingredients give it a varied nutrient profile, and the added yucca extract helps with water retention and combating fungi.

It’s also enriched with the brand’s proprietary Myco-Tone blend to help with water retention. This is especially helpful if you live in a dry climate and you’re growing herbs like basil or mint that require a lot of water.  

Most customers have great experiences with this potting mix, but some consider it too fine for certain plants. The texture does retain water well, so it’s not the best for growing plants that require fast-draining potting soil, especially indoors. If you’re looking to plant rosemary, thyme or sage, it’s not the right pick.

Pros

  • Organic and rich with nutrients.
  • Fine texture for water retention.
  • Yucca extract to combat funghi.

Cons

  • Retains water too well for some herbs.

Miracle-Gro Expand ‘N Gro Concentrated Planting Mix

The Miracle-Gro Planting Mix is made with compressed coir and designed to regulate moisture, so it’s great for thirsty herbs. It promises to hold up to 50 percent more water than other planting mixes and give your herbs nutrition for up to six months. This helps keep plants such as basil, oregano, and coriander well hydrated and fertilized.

What’s unique about this concentrated soil for herbs is that it expands up to three times its size when you add water, creating an airy mixture. According to Miracle-Gro, it forms up to 90 percent more air space than traditional bagged organic compost.

Thanks to the expanding properties, this potting mix is also a space-saver in your home or garden shed. But you’ll need to remember that less is more when planting, or your herb containers will overflow.

You can use this planting mix on its own in any type of raised container or herb garden bed, indoors or outdoors. It also works as an addition to your garden soil to give it a little boost in nutrition and improve water retention.

If you’re looking to go the truly natural route, note that this product incorporates fertilizers and is not organic. The fertilizers can also make your herbs grow too fast, which can mean less flavor.

Another possible issue is water retention, which can be too effective when you’re growing herbs in pots indoors. Some customers have had their indoor herbs suffer from too much moisture and gather mold. We’d recommend this product for a sunny and dry outdoor herb garden, where it helps your plants retain enough water to survive.

Pros

  • Includes coir to regulate moisture levels.
  • Contains fertilizers for nutrition.
  • Expands with water to save space.

Cons

  • Not organic, includes fertilizer.
  • Can retain too much water for indoor planting.

Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil

The Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil includes a blend of soil for herbs and natural fertilizer. As the star ingredients, it includes peat moss, bark, sun-coir, coconut coir, compost and earthworm castings. Unlike many natural fertilizers, this one doesn’t smell terrible but rather fresh and earthy.

This potting soil is ideal for herbs and vegetables, as well as other houseplants. You can use it on any type of raised bed or container herb garden, both indoor and outdoor. The texture is loamy, between fine and coarse.

If you’re looking for a really nutrient-dense soil for herbs to use in a rough climate or to mix with dry, sandy soil, this one might be the right pick. What customers love about it is that it gives your soil an incredible nutrient boost, making it easier to grow herbs and plants in areas with dry, infertile soil.

Just remember that it can be so full of nutrition that it ends up working against you and ends up killing sensitive herbs. This depends on your soil and climate, as well as the type of herbs you’re looking to grow.

Some customers have also had bad experiences with fungus gnats on this potting soil. Insects are always a possibility with these types of products, but organic potting soils give them a lot of room to grow and multiply.

Pros

  • Includes an all-natural blend of soil and fertilizer.
  • Nice, earthy smell.
  • Amazing nutrient boost.

Cons

  • Some customers have experienced fungus gnats.

What Are the Soil Requirements for Herbs?

For those looking for soil for herbs, it might not be as easy as just picking up a potting mix for herbs and adding it to everything. Herbs are a varied group of plants, and they don’t all act alike. The location and amount of sunlight will also have an impact on the soil you need, so make sure to read through our tips to find the right one for you.

PH Level

Most herb plants grow best in soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0, as close to neutral as possible. Some potting soils for herbs can have a more alkaline or acidic profile. Acidic soils make nutrients more available, so if you want to supercharge the nutrition of your plants, it’s good to pick an acidic one.

If the manufacturer doesn’t give you the information on the pH level of the soil, you can test it at home with a soil testing probe. This way, you can create the best potting soil for herbs for your needs.

Remember that the pH in your pots will also depend on the water you give them. Make sure you test your water’s pH, so it’s at the level you want it.

Fertilizer

Many potting soil types include fertilizers to help supercharge plant growth, but surprisingly, most herb plants don’t need nutrient-dense garden soils to grow.

Using fertilizer can actually work to your disadvantage because when you’re using fertilizer on your potted herbs, they’ll start growing more leaves and flower buds. When the plant is putting all its effort into growing fast, you might lose some flavor.

Another possible issue is what is called a ‘hot’ soil that’s so rich in nutrients that it causes a nutrient burn. If you’re not sure and you want to err on the safe side, you can mix a couple of different types of soils for your container herbs.

For example, use common garden soil and mix it with one of the supercharged, nutrient-dense potting soil options in our review. Your herbs may thrive and give you more delicious flavors when you’re not giving them too much nutrition.

Water

There are also major differences in the water needs of different herbs, and this impacts the soil selection. Not all soils are ideal for all species of herbs. For example, rosemary, sage, and thyme are from rocky, dry areas, while coriander, parsley, and basil require more water.

If you’re going for a dry-area herb, you should prioritize good soil drainage, often present in sandy soils, with drainage holes. For a more water-intensive species, soil that has more clay or silt will help with water retention. In potting soil, using a good vegetable garden mulch and some coir will often help you retain water well.

However, what will also have an impact on your soil needs is where you’re planting your herbs.

Location

Taking into account whether you’re planting your herbs indoors or outdoors and in what type of climate will have a significant impact on your gardening success.

Outdoors

If your herb garden is outdoors and receives a lot of rainfall, you’ll often do best with a soil that allows water to drain out. A potting soil designed for maximum water retention can make your herb garden too humid, especially for the dry herb varieties. As a result, your plants can wither and die from too much water, or from fungus.

In sunny and dry climates, such as Southern California or Arizona, drought-resistant herbs are the ideal pick. They’ll thrive in the sunlight and don’t need much nutrition from your soil. But, if you decide to plant chives, basil, or parsley, you’ll need to look for a potting soil with better water-retention capabilities.

Indoors

When you’re growing herbs in pots indoors, you’ll need to be extra careful with the amount of water they receive. Since you don’t have wind and, most likely, all-day sunlight, your potting soil needs to have good water drainage to prevent fungus formation.

The best option in these cases is to look for the fluffiest, airiest potting soil possible. You can also blend it together with another type of soil that’s faster-draining, and add drainage holes to the pots. This is especially important if your home is darker and your herbs don’t get much sunshine.

Can You Use Potting Mix For Herbs?

Yes, a good potting mix is generally ideal for growing herbs. It’s lighter than normal garden soils, and the fluffy texture allows for the herbs to grow their root system and draw moisture better.

However, some potting mixes can be too strong and nutrient-dense to use on their own for some delicate herbs.

What Every Gardener Needs to Know About Soil Types

There are three major types of soil—sand, clay and silt. Here are some of their characteristics.

Sand

Sandy soils are the least nutrient-dense and the most porous. When you water sandy soil, water and nutrients tend to wash out quickly. When you’re growing grass or plants, you’ll need to water more frequently and with a light hand.

While it’s not nutrient-dense, sand allows for good aeration of your herbs. The best herbs for sandy soils are the ones that are native to dry areas, such as sage, laurel, rosemary, and thyme.

Clay

Clay particles are smaller than sand particles, which makes it less porous. This means that water and nutrients stay longer in the soil without drainage. However, clay also tends to cake up easily.

When you’re watering soils with a high clay content, it’s best to saturate them completely and infrequently. If you water clay every day, it will form a tough layer on the top and not let in nutrients or water, or allow the roots to breathe.

Silt

Silt particles are between clay and sand particles in size. This also means that they’re between the two in porosity and nutrient retention.

If you have silt soil, you might also benefit from blending it with a potting soil that aerates the soil. This will keep your herb’s root system healthy and allow you to maintain good nutrition and watering.

Loam

These three soil types aren’t often completely pure. Most soils are a mixture of two or three, and if they’re present in equal parts, the soil is loamy. You can also have silty, sandy, or clay loam, depending on the proportions in which these three types of particles are present.

What type of watering and nutrition does loamy soil need? It depends on how much of each type of soil there is in the mix. For sandy loams, you’ll need more frequent watering, while clay loams will benefit from a potting mix that helps air them out.

What Kind of Soil Do I Have?

If you’re not sure what type of soil you have, you can do a soil test at home to get the exact nutrient profile. Touching wet soil will also help you figure out the texture. Sand feels granular and rough on your fingers, while clay will be sticky, and silt will have a smooth texture, in between the two.

Your local state university’s agricultural department will often also perform soil tests or have other specific information on your soil type.

The Winner

The best soil option for herbs in our review is the FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil. It’s fully organic and full of nutrients, thanks to its mix of plant and animal sources. The pH level is close to neutral, which is ideal for growing herbs.

It’s designed for indoor and outdoor environments, especially to add more nutrition to otherwise dry soils. This potting soil is also highly aerated, which allows water drainage from the roots of your plants. But you can also mix this potting soil with common garden soil to give your herbs a bit of a nutrient boost.