Dirt. It’s not a pretty word and initially it doesn’t evoke a sense of beauty, by any means. We think of earth worms, microbes, and tons of bugs. We don’t necessarily think of “life” in that word map. However, for our beloved house plant, “dirt” is the foundation of where our air purifying friends live and sustain themselves from.
Soil is a composition of organic and inorganic material that allow for plants to grow. The composition of what makes up the soil are rocks, humus (dead leaves), minerals, and various other materials that are found outdoors.
There are different variations and types of soils that make up our planet Earth. Depending on the environmental pressures presented, soil undergoes through different types of categories and as such are classified dependent on their composition, texture, and minerals.
The six main types of soil that can be found are:
- Sandy-described mostly as “free-draining”, this soil is easy to cultivate in but is not high in nutrients and generally dries quickly. The soil has a gritty feeling to it.
- Silty-Described as “well-drained”, it is similar to clay in how it is able to cultivate easily and it is high in nutrients. It feels heavier than sand and much more fertile than sandy soil. It cannot hold very much shape but it is easy to compact inside a pot.
- Clay- Difficult to dig in, clay, as you can imagine, is felt like play-doh but stickier and with a muddy feeling to it. Most wet plants can grow from this soil type and is nutritionally high in comparison to the other soil types. During the summer time, it can be baked-dry (like when you leave your toy clay out for a long time) and therefore needs continuous water to sustain plant growth.
- Loamy- This soil type is like a master key/holy grail to all plants—almost anything can grow from it. Like the clay, it is high in nutrients so our indoor plant friends find this soil type favorable in their mixture. It is described as brown and crumbly.
- Peaty- Dark and very black, this soil is generally seen as Earthy and found mainly in conditions similar to the UK. It is acidic because of so much decomposition (this is the earth worm dirt that comes to mind when one thinks of soil) and therefore it is not very nutritious. However, with fertilizer, generally indoor plants may also thrive in this. It feels as it looks- spongy.
- Chalky- Also a “free-draining” soil, it is embedded with formed rocks, stones, bedrocks, and limestone. Very difficult to cultivate in and not a lot can be done with it for growth but if mixed and if fertilizer is added, it can assist with plant growth because of the available minerals and nutrition that sustain plant growth. Hope is not lost with this soil!
So how does this relate to our air purifying plants?
Well, each type of soil provides different kinds of nutrients for our indoor air purifying plants, the poorest being sandy. However, because of the nature of indoor gardening, mixing these soils is encouraged. Take a succulent for example. They need their soil mixed to ensure their survival. Succulents make wonderful first time owners of indoor air purifying plants because they don’t take much to grow from. They generally grow well with any soil type.
However, they mostly thrive in dry soil and therefore grow very well with sandy soil, just as long as it is mixed with well-drained soil, such as the loamy type.
Other air purifying plants such as the snake plant and the money tree are similar to the succulents, which needs a mix of peaty textured soil to prosper.
Other indoor air purifying plants thrive on mixed, wet soil. The Lotus, for example, may be maintained indoors provided that it has a mixture of clay soil. Anything requiring a wet environment will thrive with wet soil like clay and silty.
Overall, like us, the diet of our air purifying friends are varied throughout different soil types. Therefore it is important to distinguish which is which.
Author: Morena Guerrero