Moving to Soilless

After almost a year into my gardening hobby, I finally looked into soilless potting mixes. Supposedly soilless mixes would eliminate or vastly reduce the presence of bugs. Originally, I wasn’t too bothered by soil indoors, but I somehow accumulated several plants in my bedroom, and I was not comfortable with the thought of so many bugs crawling in such close proximity to my bed. Since I kept my favorite plants in my bedroom (I wanted to see them when I woke up), I didn’t want to risk killing my them with an untested soilless mix.

Anyway, what would I use? Peat moss? Sphagnum moss? Coco peat? Will plants really survive without soil? I had seen plant enthusiasts talk about soilless for some time now, but it took me some time to switch: it didn’t seem convenient. If I were to move to soilless, I would prefer to use media that I could use with my other plants as well.

Around the same time I was considering going soilless, I noticed one of my carnivorous plants also needed repotting. Domesticated carnivorous plants were typically grown in soilless mixes—my byblis and venus fly trap were in sphagnum moss from their past owners, and my nepenthes in coco peat. I thought I’d need to buy sphagnum moss for my byblis and venus fly trap, but this frustrated me because sphagnum moss isn’t exactly cheap, and I would only use it for my carnivorous plants. So I asked other carnivorous plant enthusiasts, and I figured out that most carnivorous plants can survive in coco peat, which is affordable and readily available here.

Perfect. I can use coco peat for both my ornamental and carnivorous plants.

For my soilless potting mix, I use coco peat as my base and add pumice for drainage and CRH for good luck. I like to sprinkle in a bit of perlite to the mix when I have some on hand, but I’m not sure if there’s truly a benefit to using both pumice and perlite. (No harm done anyway.) I use the same mix as amendments to loam soil for my outdoor plants.

The first plants I repotted into soilless were my golden pothos and njoy pothos. I figured that if my most resilient plants couldn’t survive in a soilless mix, none of my other plants would. I also started new propagations: I cut a stem of my byblis and propagated it in my cocopeat mix (no CRH) as a safeguard before repotting it into a new medium, and I trimmed my leggy pothos and stuck the nodes into the new mix.

Two weeks after testing, my golden pothos started showing new growth (I guess it was business as usual), so I was appeased. After that, I repotted a few others (not all just yet) into soilless.

In particular, I planted two calatheas (plant enthusiasts know these to be diva plants) into my soilless mix and prayed the plants would survive. They’ve been in the mix for over three weeks, and the results are good so far. I have yet to see new growth, but, well, they haven’t died. I recently started spraying a soil conditioner into the pots, so I’m hoping it will encourage new growth soon. For now, I’m considering the move to soilless a success.

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