How To Make Well-Drained Soil For Houseplants?

There are so many different houseplants that you can get, each with their own likes, dislikes and different foibles. However, there is one thing they almost all agree on – they need well-drained soil!

Instead of spending a fortune at your local gardening store, why not learn how to make well-drained soil for houseplants, at home? They will love it, and it will save you money too!

How To Make Well-Drained Soil For Houseplants?

How Do You Fix Soil That Doesn’t Drain

Making your own well draining soil is actually a lot easier than you might think. All you need is a little soil, some compost, a bag of perlite, peat moss and vermiculite.

All these ingredients are easily sourced, form either your own garden or your local gardening or hardware store, and it’s really simple to make your own well-drained soil:

  1. Take 2 quarts of soil from your garden, and mix it together with a small bag of compost.
  2. Add in a little peat moss – stirring it with your hands is easier than using any other type of stirring tool, just as a tip!
  3. Gradually add the whole bag of vermiculite, a bit at a time to ensure it is all fully mixed in.
  4. Tip in the whole bag of perlite, and mix together thoroughly.
  5. Once it is all properly combined together, you can use this mix for potting up your plants, or repotting your existing houseplants. They’ll love it!

You can adjust the amounts of the different ingredients depending on what your plants like. You can also add coarse sand or fine gravel, to make the soil that bit more well-draining.

If you have a lot of compost lying about, you might be interested in this article about how to make potting soil from it.

How Do You Fix Soil That Doesn’t Drain?

When you are repotting your houseplants, you need soil that drains well. If your home made potting soil isn’t draining well, there are a few things you can try:

  • Add sand. Sand in the soil will add lightness to the soil and help the water drain away better, rather than sitting in the soil and making the plant too wet for too long.
  • Add grit. Grit, similarly to sand, will add aeration to your soil – grit is ideal because it is larger than sand and so will stir up your soil even more.
  • Add organic material. Adding some mulch or organic compost to your potting soil will help the drainage no end – plus there is the added advantage of bringing more nutrients to the soil too.
  • Add clay pebbles. Placing a few pebbles of Leca into your potting soil will help to absorb some of the excess water at the same time as aiding drainage.
  • Add lime. Calcium Carbonate will not only help your soil drain better, but also adds calcium to it. Watch out though – this will change the pH of your compost to more alkaline, meaning it might not be suitable for plants that like acidic soil.

Well draining soil is a must for happy, healthy houseplants. If your soil is not quite well draining enough, luckily there are things you can do to fix this.

If you notice that you have pots which are holding onto the water, chances are your plants aren’t that happy.

Try one or more of the above methods to help your plants to live their best life! If you want some visual instructions, this video is a great place to start:

Will Adding Sand To Soil Improve Drainage?

In short, yes. Adding sand to soil will definitely improve the drainage of the soil, thus helping your plants enjoy their potted life.

You must make sure that you use coarse sand, however, as using fine sand can compact the soil down into a concrete-like state!

A good scoop or two of coarse sand mixed into your potting compost will help your plants thrive much better, because their roots won’t be sitting in water.

Remember that mixing the sand through the compost itself will be much better than placing it in layers through the pot.

Mixing the sand through the soil will make the whole of the soil lighter and better at draining, which is exactly what your plants want!

Is Sand Or Gravel Better For Drainage?

Is Sand Or Gravel Better For Drainage

It is well known gardening lore that putting stones at the bottom of the pots will help drainage – but would it be better to use sand?

Gravel helps houseplants drain by preventing the water from sitting in the bottom of the pots, potentially causing issues with the roots of the plant.

But, is it better to add sand instead?

If you add a thick layer of sand to the bottom of your pot, you may find that the drainage problem is worse.

Sand can hold water pretty well, especially if it is the fine type – your plants may end up sitting in a boggy swamp!

If you’re going to add sand to your pots, it’s best to use the coarse type, so that the soil doesn’t end up like concrete.

Adding gravel to  the bottom of your pots is a better idea; the water will drain through the soil and leach out through the stones at the bottom of the pot.

However, if the soil is too wet anyway, all that will happen is the soggy layer of soil will sit on top of the layer of gravel and your plants will still get too wet.

If you want to improve the drainage of your houseplants, the best idea is to mix some coarse substrate through the soil itself, not just dump it in a layer at the bottom.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to make well-drained soil for houseplants, you will never have to buy compost again!

Your houseplants will thrive without getting their roots soggy, and your bank balance will be healthier now you’re not spending a fortune on expensive soil! By the way, don’t forget to check my guide on cinnamon and houseplants.

2 thoughts on “How To Make Well-Drained Soil For Houseplants?”

    • In short, no. Play sand is too fine, and will only clog up the soil even more, causing more drainage issues! The sand should be coarse in order to break up the soil enough to allow water to drain away.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Plants & House

6022 S Drexel Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Amazon Disclaimer

Plants & House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Plants & House does not intend to provide any health advice. We try to help our visitors better understand their plants; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for medical guidance. For more information, please read our PRIVACY POLICY.