While most aroids require a relatively straightforward care routine, growing them in the right soil is crucial. The soil must be well-draining with adequate air pockets to support the optimal growth of aroids.
Such soil blends are available for purchase online, but you can save money by creating your own special potting mix at home using your DIY aroid soil mix recipe.
Even better, making your own soil mix allows you to customize it to your specific aroid species for optimal growth results.
This article provides the DIY soil mix recipe for aroids. It also offers useful guidelines for deciding the ingredients for plants that require good drainage, high organic content, and adequate aeration.
What are Aroids?
Aroids are plants belonging to the Araceae family commonly used as houseplants. These include Monsteras, philodendrons, pothos, peace lilies, ZZ plants, alocasias, and more.
They are naturally understory plants from habitats characterized by forest cover, bright indirect sunlight, high humidity, and plenty of decomposing organic plant matter where their roots grow.
The soil n these plants’ natural habitat is typically light with a loose texture and lots of air pockets.
When growing these plants at home, it is essential to mimic this kind of soil as closely as possible. The soil mix must be highly porous but with good moisture retention and plenty of organic content.
Growing aroids in poorly draining soil may lead to root rot as these plants do not like having their roots in soggy conditions.
What’s in a Good DIY Aroid Soil Mix?
A good DIY aroid mix is as close to the tropical rainforest soil as possible. It has a loose texture that makes it well draining and adequately aerated. More importantly, this soil mix is high in organic content to support plant growth.
To create this mix, ensure you add the key ingredients in their correct approximated ratios, even though you don’t have to be too hung up on the exact amounts.
Different people may have different recipes, but here are the ingredients that you should find in every DIY aroid soil mix recipe.
- 4-part orchid bark mix
- 3-part potting mix,
- 2 part peat moss or coco fiber or coconut coir
- 1 part perlite or pumice
You could play around with the amount of perlite or pumice, interchanging its ratio with that of the potting mix. However, orchid bark must constitute the highest percentage of the soil mix for your aroid.
Also, you can choose between peat moss and coco fiber or coco coir. Either of these two will serve the same purpose, even though coconut coir may be a more inexpensive option.
Why do Aroids Require a Special Potting Mix?
The potting mix used to grow your beloved aroid will directly influence its survival. These plants natively grow in special tropical conditions different from what other plants are adapted to.
- The plants require readily available oxygen for their roots because they are adapted to growing shallow roots along the rainforest floor, which is their native habitat. As such, their roots are conditioned to plenty of oxygen in this loose soil.
- The aroid soil mix must therefore be chunky rather and unlikely to get compacted. This allows for the aeration that these plant rots require to grow healthy and keep the plants happy.
- The rainforest floor is typically characterized by a thick layer of decaying, decomposing bits from the canopy and other plant matter. This makes it rich in organic material, which the aroids have been conditioned to. So the potting mix must have plenty of organic nutrients for your aroids to thrive.
- Since the natural habitat of aroids consists of constantly composting soil matter, the soil’s top layer is generally loose. This explains why these plants do well in chunky soil mix rather than finely textured and easily compacted types.
- While the tropical rainforest soil is loosely textured, it is typically moist. This conditions aroids to prefer soils with good moisture retention. However, the soil mix must be well-draining because the plants do not like their roots staying in wet soil for long periods.
- Water typically soaks into the forest floor and soon seeps into the soil’s lower layers. To mimic this at home, you must create enough drainage holes in the pot where your aroid plant grows to allow the excess water out as soon as possible.
Why Should You Make Your own DIY Aroid Soil Mix?
You can always buy the right soil mix for your aroid houseplant online or from a garden center near you. However, this ready availability does not necessarily mean you should take that option. Creating your DIY aroid soil mix at home has the following benefits.
- A DIY option allows you to give the soil the best aeration for your plant. Regular commercial soil mixes typically include perlite for aeration, but the amounts are often small and may not be ideal for some aroid plant species.
- When you create your own potting mix for your aroids, you can add as many useful ingredients are you deem necessary. This is not something you can enjoy with a regular commercial product. The latter restricts your options to what is already available.
- Pre-made aroid soil mix such as Miracle Gro Potting Mix can have too much of aeration elements that ultimately hurt its water retention. Remember that these plants require soil mix with good moisture retention even though they do not like their roots staying in soggy soil for long periods.
- Too much or aeration elements in your pre-made aroid mix can disrupt your watering routine and risk killing your plant through dehydration. Your options may be limited to more frequent watering or losing your houseplant.
- DIY aroid soil mix allows you to have full control of the ingredients added to the mix. You will also have full control over the amounts of each ingredient. This way, you can play around with the ratios to suit your plant needs better.
- Your indoor plant can grow bigger and healthier in a shorter time with a soil mix made specifically for it. A more customized ratio of ingredients will more likely lead to stronger and healthier roots with a lower risk of root rot.
Creating the Perfect DIY Aroid Soil Mix
When creating the perfect DIY soil mix for aroids, you want to ensure that orchid bark constitutes the highest percentage, followed by a suitable potting mix. Coco coir or peat moss can be half as much as the orchid bark in the mix.
Finally, the soil mix can have half as much perlite or pumice as the peat or coconut coir. If you prefer the soil to be more highly aerated, you can increase the amount of perlite.
The most important thing is to understand the role of each ingredient and decide its ratio based on that knowledge.
- Orchid bark helps create a loose texture that allows the roots to grow and move freely. This texture also helps allow for the free flow of water to prevent overwatering.
- Perlite or pumice helps improve drainage and aeration. With better aeration, the plant roots have uninhibited access to oxygen, leading to a healthier, happier plant.
- Coco coir and peat moss are water retention agents. Both of these ingredients also help improve aeration.
- Activated charcoal (also called horticultural charcoal) is an ingredient that you can add to help drain excess water. It does an excellent job of increasing the absorbent properties of your aroid mix. This property prevents overwatering and protects your plants from root rot.
Notice that the orchid bark mix contains horticultural charcoal, so you don’t have to add the charcoal separately if you have the orchid bark mix. However, you may consider adding activated charcoal if you have pure orchid bark among the ingredients.
Ingredients for the Perfect DIY aroid soil mix
Here is a detailed rundown of the various ingredients in the DIY aroid soil mix. As already mentioned, you can pay around with the ratios depending on how you want your soil mix to be. However, the ratios given in this write-up should be ideal for any aroid plant.
i. Four-part orchid bark
Orchid bark is typically obtained from the barks of trees such as fir, not orchids, as the name might suggest.
This ingredient does an excellent job of holding moisture as a natural substrate. However, there is only so much moisture it can retain, so the correct amount will be crucial to the quality of your aroid soil mix.
You could go for orchid bark or orchid bark mix for your aroid soil mix. Whatever the case, ensure it constitutes approximately 40 percent of your soil mix.
Orchid bark or orchid bark mix has a chunky texture that plays a primary role in providing aeration and allows the roots of your arid houseplant to move and grow freely.
Pure orchid bark mainly determines the texture, ensuring the soil mix is loose enough to allow the plant roots to grow freely. The looseness also does an excellent job of ensuring the much-needed aeration.
However, you don’t want too much pure orchid bark because that might hurt the soil’s ability to retain water. The barks are incredibly well-draining and made up of relatively large chunks of wood, so they will retain moisture but not prevent water from seeping away.
Orchid bark mix is nutrient-rich due to its high organic content, making it an excellent food source for potted plants.
It usually contains orchid bark and additional amendments like activated charcoal, peat, and lava rock or perlite. Since lava rock and perlite or pumice have the same role, the mix can have either of the two.
ii. Two-part peat moss
Peat moss is a great source of organic nutrients for your plants, so you need a significant amount of it. Usually, half as much of this as the orchid bark should be ideal. This means it should constitute approximately 20 percent of your aroid soil mix.
Peat is nutrient-rich and does an excellent job of retaining water. It is an organic matter comprised of decomposing fibrous material. This way, it supplies the plant’s roots with much-needed organic nutrients and water.
Alternatively, you could substitute peat with coco fiber or coconut coir. It is cheaper but possesses the same absorbent properties as peat. It is also lauded for being a more sustainable alternative compared to sphagnum peat moss, which has a disruptive effect on the ecosystem.
Coco peat, made from coconut husk, has the added value as a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal material. This makes it a valuable addition to any aroid soil mix recipe.
Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, popularly referred to as LECA, is the other alternative you could consider instead. It has the same properties and function as coco peat and peat moss. However, LECA might be an expensive option.
iii. One-part perlite or pumice
After using orchid bark, you want to keep the amount of perlite or pumice in your aroid soil mix to a minimum.
This ingredient should consist of around 10 percent of the potting mix, even though some people go for a larger percentage. But we don’t recommend anything more than 10 percent.
You could also use clay pebbles or lava rock instead of perlite. Either material will help keep the soil texture loose and prevent compaction. This way, it does an important job of increasing drainage.
However, perlite has low water retention, so you don’t want to have too much of it in your potting mix. Too much of it can cause accelerated drainage and eventual drainage.
If you want to be more eco-friendly with your recipe, consider pumice instead of perlite or lava rock. However, pumice may cost more than perlite.
iv. All-purpose potting soil
Some people consider potting soil an optional ingredient. However, we have found that aroids do better when you have plenty of all-purpose potting mix in your mixture.
This ingredient should constitute approximately 30 percent of the aroid mix for the best results. If you used pure orchid bark rather than orchid bark mix, it is essential that you include this all-purpose potting soil in the mixture.
If you used an orchid bark mix instead, you could keep the amount of potting soil to a minimum. As little as 20 percent should be sufficient.
While every ingredient included above contributes to a loose texture, all-purpose potting soil has a relatively finer consistency, which can help balance things out. So it may be best to add it at the end after considering the consistency you seek.
Add more potting soil if you want more water retention and less if you are looking for more drainage.
Notice that you can go for pure potting mix, which consists of porous, nutrient-dense compost and zero soil. If you choose this alternative, your aroid mix will have no soil in it.
If you opt for this non-soil substrate, you can have as much as 40 percent of it in the mix without hurting the drainage or aeration. However, if you choose potting soil instead, you must watch its volume because it has a loamy consistency that you don’t want much of.
v. Extra additives (Optional)
If you used pure orchid bark, you might need some horticultural charcoal in your aroid soil mix to help improve drainage. This ingredient does an excellent job of increasing the absorbent properties of your aroid mix, making any excess water drain away fast.
However, it won’t be necessary if you have orchid bark mix because the latter already contains it.
The other extra ingredients that you may or may elect to add in small amounts include.
- Worm castings
- Bone meal
- Fish emulsion
These will enrich your soil mix further, making it nutrient-dense and valuable to your aroid houseplant. The most important thing about these extras is to treat them as extras—that means adding them sparingly, so you do not over-fertilize your soil and risk burning the plant.
Directions for Making Your DIY Aroid Soil Mix
Once you have all the ingredients handy, the steps for creating the soil mixture are pretty straightforward.
- Use a measuring cup to scoop the right amount for each ingredient and empty it into your bin.
- Once you have all the ingredients in the bin, mix them up to create an even mixture with every ingredient well distributed throughout. Watch out for the chunkier ingredients that might prefer sitting at the top.
- Next, cover the bin to retain moisture and ensure freshness.
- When using the soil mix, ensure you stir or shake it one more time to mix everything before using it.
What to Consider When Deciding on Your DIY Aroid Soil Mix Drainage
- Light: More intense light leads to faster drainage and vice versa.
- Temperature: Environments with higher temperatures experience faster drainage.
- Humidity: Indoor plants in high-humidity environments retain moisture for longer, while those in low-humidity environments (under 50 percent) dry faster.
- Watering: Frequent watering goes hand in hand with faster drainage and vice versa.
- Aroid plant type: Aroid plants generally prefer well-draining but moisture-retaining soil types.
What kind of soil do aroids need?
Aroids prefer chunky, well-draining, and well-aerated soil types with lots of organic matter based on orchid bark. These plants are native to tropical rainforest environments, so they prefer loosely textured soil types that resemble the soil on the forest floor as closely as possible.
What is the best Monstera soil mix DIY?
The best potting soil mix for Monstera houseplant is four-part pine bark fines, one-part peat moss, and one-part perlite. You can substitute peat moss with coconut coir and perlite with pumice.
The ideal soil for aroids is chunky and based on orchid bark. The soil must be well-draining, aerated, and have a high organic nutrient content. With this understanding, it should be easy to develop your DIY aroid soil mix recipe.
However, if you prefer to err on the side of caution, take the recommendations in this write-up and stick to the ingredients and ratios provided.
If you follow this guide, you should be able to grow a healthy and beautiful aroid houseplant. If you have any thoughts or observations, leave them in the comments, and we’ll be happy to respond ASAP.
Note: You can also use a well-draining soil mix like cactus soil for regular plants that prefer a soil mix that doesn’t hold onto water. As long as the soil you are using is well-draining, your plants should be happy.