Ideal Growing Conditions
Container plants and seedlings thrive best when they have plenty of drainage and start out in a sterile environment. Hence, a good potting medium is a "soil-less" combination of peat or coir, pine bark, and vermiculite or perlite, none of which provide any nutrition to plants. This suggests a potting mix over a potting soil, although what's in the bag counts a lot.
Good potting mediums (whatever they are called on the bag) are designed to stay "fluffy" and not compact too much in the challenging environment of containers. A good potting medium won't dry out too quickly but will resist compacting so that the plant's roots can take up water and moisture from their surroundings. The roots must also have access to oxygen, which means that the medium can't be too dense.
Potting soils/mixes also come in different types. There are specific mixtures for succulents, orchids, roses, acid-loving plants and seed starting.
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