Choosing the right compost for your plants with David Domoney

Sometimes it can be a bit intimidating trying to find the right compost to buy for your plants - there are many options in the shops but the advice isn't always obvious. Horticulturalist David Domoney breaks down the life of plants into stages to help simplify the compost conundrum.

Young n’ restless

As a plant begins their life, they need the right conditions to grow. Give your plants a head start by potting them in compost designed to allow delicate roots to explore easily.

Compost containing sand is specifically well-suited for seeds and young plants due to their lighter structure. This means new roots aren’t restricted or smothered by heavy soil conditions—vital for early development.

Just like a curious toddler, the plant will want to run wild and explore further. Once you can see that your plants’ roots are filling the container, it’s time to repot them into a slightly bigger home. For fast growers, select a fairly large pot. Slow growers can be moved into a pot that's just a few inches bigger than its last.

Houseplants are no exception. Their soil needs a boost too, especially because they are exposed to drying conditions from indoor central heating. A compost that absorbs water easily will help, and Miracle-Gro Premium Houseplant Potting Mix Compost has amazing Waterlock™ technology, meaning it absorbs up to 25% more water than ordinary compost. Plants will benefit from consistent water levels, rather than fluctuating conditions, which can cause stress.

Houseplants need good water management and drainage

All grown up

Plants need to be transferred to a pot with more room so that root systems continue to spread. This helps build strong foundations, anchoring the expanding vegetation above ground. Even though the plants are better established, there’s plenty more development on the go, so the right nutrients are essential to keep growth healthy.

Keep a close eye on pots and containers. As they only have limited access to soil, they tend to dry out quicker and deplete the soil’s resources much faster. Miracle-Gro’s Premium Moisture Control Compost for Pots and Baskets delivers a delightful mix of nutrients that are the perfect recipe for your plants, incorporating a unique combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Each plays its part in healthy plant growth. The specially-coated granules, with Smart Release feeding, supplies the plants with food gradually when the conditions are right for absorption—now that is smart.

Meet the needs

For specialist plants, like orchids, you need a compost which accounts for more specific needs and encourages them to flourish. Bark-based compost is used for orchids because it needs to have a free-draining structure. Miracle-Gro Premium Orchid Compost fits the bill as it is made up from high-quality pine bark which provides the conditions that will let your orchid's roots explore freely. Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) have unusually green roots and this is because the roots aid photosynthesis. These can be potted in a clean container to help the roots access enough sunlight to maintain energy levels. Clear pots also allow you to keep an eye on what’s happening in the pot.

A variety of plants such as Azalea, Camellia and Rhododendron are ericaceous, which means they’re acid-loving and need environments with a lower pH to be sure that the luscious leaves don’t turn yellow. For a Mediterranean look in your hanging baskets, Pelargoniums are a great choice for adding bright clusters of flowers on long stalks. Many Mediterranean plants are used to stony soils and are fairly drought-tolerant, so overwatering can occur. These plants will love the Aquacoir® formula in Miracle-Gro products. It stores and releases water exactly when plants need it. Meaning, less need to worry about watering!

Improve the soil

Garden soils can be bolstered using soil conditioners to greatly benefit plant development. As garden soils range from clay, sand, loam or chalk, and have differing levels of pH, a variety of soil improvers are available to buy. We can make our soil have better drainage, structure, organic material (for microbes), or specially-added nutrients to fit exactly what our plants need. Products like Miracle-Gro Premium Border Booster Soil Improver supplies the soil with material to aid structure and drainage. This, in turn, produces air pockets to help soil life thrive.

You can add a decorative touch to your paths, and boost moisture retention at the same time, with this cracking product. Levington Water Saving Decorative Bark will look striking and give a protective layer to suppress weeds. This makes it a great addition to a low maintenance garden. It has a natural and fresh pine fragrance and is sustainably sourced, so it’s a win-win for your garden.

Choosing the perfect compost to fit the needs of your plants will supply them with everything they need to keep your garden looking glorious. Each specific formula in Miracle-Gro’s range is designed to suit the varying stages of plant development and that’s a sure-fire way to keep them healthy and strong.

This article is a special feature by David Domoney, professional horticulturalist and television presenter, and our Ambassador for Miracle-Gro.

David Domoney, Brand Ambassador for Miracle Gro

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