Best Soil for Tomatoes in Pots – 5 Go To Choices

Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants for home gardeners to grow. For the most part they’re quite easy but the best way to start the growing season off is with a great soil. Using soil with the proper nutrients is how you can give your plants the best chance possible to thrive. Also in turn to produce tasty crops! 

I have chosen Foxfarm’s Ocean Forest Potting Mix as my top choice. This is because I found it super effective, my plants loved it and it didn’t smell at all! Nevertheless I’ve picked an option to suit everyone, an affordable option, as well as one which is organic, a soil with great nutrients and finally one that’s the best for moisture control. 

green tomatoes growing in vine

My 5 Favorites :

Product Reviews

Best Overall Foxfarm’s Ocean Forest Potting Mix 

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Fox Farm’s soil mixture is perfect for tomato plants, tomato plants in particular are super heavy feeders meaning they need a lot of nutrients – and this soil delivers! This soil is pH adjusted to 6.3 – 6.8 meaning that the plant has the optimum conditions for fertilizer uptake. This soil mix is also ready to use straight out of the bag which is convenient as there is no faffing about. Additionally the soil contains perlite which helps to create a chunky soil and plenty of pockets of air in the soil. In turn this facilitates drainage which is crucial for avoiding root rot. Fox farms have also included peat moss which helps retain moisture, allowing the plant to be happy for longer between waterings. 

Bonus tip: the fox farm fertilizers are fantastic. Using the fertilizer alongside the soil mixture would result in some great tomato plants but make sure you don’t start fertilizing until 4-6 weeks after you first plant into this soil. This is because the soil itself has plenty of nutrients and if you used both products the plants would likely suffer from over fertilizing and scorch. 

Key Features: 

  • Material: A blend of sphagnum moss, earthworm castings, perlite, bat guano, fish emulsion and crab meal
  • Dimensions: 12 Quarts
ProsCons
Retains moisture well between waterings but drains quickly A little bit pricier than some of the other potting mixes on the market
Contains ample nutrients Contains peat moss 

Why Do We Love It? 

I’m awarding this potting soil the title of best all rounder, so in turn it’s suitable for every type of gardener! I love this potting mix because it can be easily shipped to your house, it’s ready to use and doesn’t need any kind of pre-treatment so it’s super convenient if you’re a busy person. 

Best Affordable Choice Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 

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Miracle-Gro’s indoor potting mix combines peat moss, coconut coir and perlite, as well as a wetting agent. This is important for soil mixes which contain peat moss. As a result of no wetting agent the moss will just float and not absorb water. Also the soil blend also has added fertilizer which gives the plants a nice boost. It is important to remember that the plants will not need additional fertilizer for a few months after. 

Key Features: 

  • Material: peat moss, coco coir, wetting agent and added fertilizer 
  • Dimensions: 16 quarts 
ProsCons
AffordableSynthetic fertilizer is used
Retains moisture well, thanks to the coco coir Peat moss included which is not sustainable

Why Do We Love It? 

This soil is just so simple and easy, so it can be used for tomatoes but also it’ll be a great choice for any other plants you have. It’s one of those products that does exactly what it says on the tin! Plus you can see their environmental and ethical pledges on their website. Additionally this is alongside a transparent overview of how much they have achieved so far.

Best Organic Potting Mix Sungro Horticutlure’s Black Gold Organic Potting Soil (2 Pack)

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This is one of the few organic potting mixes available. As a result it is going to exceed your expectations. This soil had been recommended to me a lot and I thought I might be disappointed if it didn’t live up to the hype but this product delivered. It is a mixture of loam and sphagnum moss and it also includes perlite and pumice. The perlite and pumice help to aid in drainage and improve the soil structure by providing a grippy surface that helps to anchor the roots of the tomato plants in place. This potting mix has an OMRI certification proving that the soil is completely natural, organic and free from chemicals. Additionally the processes used in the production of this potting mix are certified non-toxic.

Key Features: 

  • Material: sphagnum peat moss, loam, perlite, pumice, earthworm castings, compost and forest humus
  • Dimensions: 8 Quarts 
ProsCons
Made in the USAA little bit expensive compared to the others
From my experience and the reviews it seems like no one has had any issues with the soil having fungus gnats (which is a fairly common issue with shop bought soil mixes)Peat moss included which is not sustainable as the bogs it is harvested from contain a huge amount of carbon, the carbon is released when the peat moss is harvested 

Why Do We Love It? 

This potting mix is a little different from the others because of its versatility – you can use sungro’s Black Gold potting mix in hanging baskets, indoor and outdoor containers as well as in raised beds. It’s suitable for all types of plants as well so you don’t have to waste any leftovers. I also love sungro for their dedication to finding a sustainable future for sphagnum moss – they’re doing a lot of research with canadian moss which looks very promising. 

Best Soil Mix for Moisture Retention Epsoma Sphagnum Peat Moss Potting Medium 

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This potting mix is a really great choice for potted plants and tomatoes. The medium contains sphagnum moss which helps to provide enough air to potted/ growing tomato plants. The soil also contains peat moss for additional nutrients to help boost the plant’s growth. This combination of ingredients helps to keep the soil pH within the ideal range of 6-7. As well as this the moss also helps to ensure air and water can reach the roots.

Key Features: 

  • Material: sphagnum peat moss
  • Dimensions: 8 quarts 
ProsCons
Affordable, it is around 3 cents per fluid ounceContains peat moss as it’s primary ingredient
Can be used to lighten up heavier potting mixesIt can’t be shipped internationally 

Why Do We Love It? 

I love that this soil can be stored away for ages. You just have to roll the top down (I use laundry pegs to secure the toils of my soil bags) and put them somewhere dry. Also all of the Miracle-Gro products are safe for humans. So in turn there’s no issues about growing your crops in their mediums.

Best Potting Soil with Worm Castings Good Earth Organics Cloud 9 Potting Soil

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This potting mix is a great choice for more mature tomato plants, the brand itself recommends that you use this mixture for when the plants are entering their final stage of growth. The potting soil contains coconut coir, alfalfa meal, pumice, earthworm castings, and other nutrients that support late-stage growth. Whilst it seems like this potting mix is really expensive, you can actually just use a layer of it over the existing soil as it is geared towards supporting later growth. The smaller bag will cover a larger area than you might expect because you only need to put a few inches on top of the soil.

Key Features: 

  • Material: peat moss, coconut coir, perlite 
  • Dimensions: 10 quarts 
ProsCons
Made in the USAVery expensive if you want to use it as your primary base 
Certified Organic Contains peat

Why Do We Love It? 

This potting mix is so good because of its ability to ensure the nutrients get delivered to the tomato’s roots. As a result you get complete control over feeding your plants. Good earth organics are listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (so they are OMRI certified like the sun gro soil). It’s made in the USA so it has a smaller carbon footprint by the time it ends up in your garden which is a great addition too.

Buying Guide and What You Should Know

The factors to consider when buying a soil mixture include nutrients, ingredients, pH levels.

tomato plants growing in a field

Ingredients 

It’s important to understand why each ingredient is included in the soil mix so that you can make the right decision about which soil to buy.

See These Detailed Below:

Bark – from pine or fir trees, the bark will help the soil light which allows the roots to grow 

Peat moss – this is commonly the primary component of soil mixes and it’s almost always included in tomato specific potting soils. Peat moss which is harvested from bogs is very water absorbent. The moss absorbs water and then slowly releases it for the roots to soak up, as a result preventing them from drying out.

Coir – also called coco coir this is plant material from the inside of coconut shells, the coco coir helps to stop the soil becoming compressed. Additionally, the coir acts in a similar way to peat moss and absorbs moisture which it then slowly releases. Many soils are now opting to use coco coir in fact instead of peat. This is due to the negative environmental impacts of peat farming. 

Pelite – perlite helps to prevent soil compaction and keeps the soil light, it is made from mining volcanic glass which is also called perlite. This means that perlite is also a finite resource and is not renewable. Where possible I like to reuse my perlite to be a bit more sustainable but it is not always possible to do so when it has been mixed in with soil.

Sand – sometimes horticultural sand will be added to the soil mixture to help with drainage. The soil also benefits the plant by giving the soil more structural integrity, the sand is easier for the roots to anchor into which is important when the tomato plants get bigger. 

Wetting agent  – not all soil will contain wetting agents. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the potting mixes without wetting agents will be bad. The key factor is whether the soil was packaged dry or semi- damp, dry mixes can be difficult to moisten the first time they are used. This is because of the peat moss as it tends to float on the water instead of absorbing it. To counteract this problem a wetting agent may be added to help the moss absorb the water more easily for example. 

tomatoes growing in greenhouse

Nutrients 

Tomato plants are heavy feeders. This means they won’t thrive unless their growing medium is abundant with minerals and micronutrients for example. The essential things for a tomato plant are phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and potassium or potash. Tomatoes in particular need a high level of phosphorus. When you look at the N-P-K ratio on products you want to get something where the middle number is the highest. 

Nutrients tend to wash out of the soil in containers more quickly than garden soil. Even though the soil mix has added nutrients it helps to fertilize every few weeks. The frequency of fertilizing will vary depending on which soil you use and the amount of nutrients already in the mix. Usually the bag of the potting soil will tell you how long to wait until you begin fertilizing. 

pH Levels

pH levels are measured from acidic to alkaline on a scale of 0 – 14 where 7 represents the neutral value. Tomato plants are happiest when the soil is neutral to slightly acidic, in the realm of around 6-7. The smaller numbers on the scale are indicative of acidic conditions whereas values above 7 represent alkaline material. 

When a soil mix is too heavy in clay the pH often falls too far into the alkaline conditions. However this can be easily rectified by the addition of organic matter like dried leaves and composted vegetable scraps. 

Most but not all potting mixes will say on the bag what pH the soil is. If the information is not available on the packaging it is very easy to test yourself. You can use a cheap piece of litmus paper which you can get in a gardening center or online to test the pH of your soil.

FAQ

Why is it important to use potting mix and not just garden soil? 

Soil from the garden dries out a lot more quickly than potting soil will. Therefore if you have your tomatoes in a container you would likely need to water your crops 2 – 3 times a day. If the roots dried out then the plant’s overall growth would be stunted. Garden soil is also more likely to become compressed which makes it difficult for the roots to grow and can lead to root rot. A growing mix is better suited for tomatoes in pots because the coco coir and bark help to maintain moisture and prevent soil compression.

Is it okay to grow tomatoes in grow bags? 

Definitely, there’s no major advantages or disadvantages of pots or grow bags. The key thing to remember is that the pot or bag must hold at least 10 gallons of soil in order to ensure that the tomato roots have room to develop.

The Bottom Line

With more than a thousand varieties of tomato plants I’d encourage everyone to grow a type of tomato in their garden at home. Set yourself up for success by using one of the tomato soils I picked out – as a result you’ll have healthy plants with a great yield at the end of the season.

While all of the soil mixes are excellent, for me it has to be in fact FoxFarm’s ocean forest! If I had to only use one potting soil again it would be that one without a doubt. It provides a lightweight soil which will retain the moisture well and also allows the water to drain away, while nurturing your plants with a balanced diet. Another humble mention to the Sungro Horticutlure’s Organic Potting Soil for all the environmentally conscience!

Enjoyed Learning About the Best Soil for Your Tomato Plants?

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Katie Riggs
Katie’s love of plants began at a young age, in fact it was the first time she went camping and discovered the medicinal wonders of a dock leaf that the fascination with all things botanical took hold. Spending time in nature and frequently visiting the Kew Gardens, she became obsessed with the diversity of plants you could grow at home. Her favorite things to grow are herbs and vegetables outdoors as well as her prized fiddle leaf fig and calathea orbifolia. Hundreds of mistakes later she has become well versed in how not to kill a houseplant. Her passions now involve sharing her love of nature and all things green to help other people keep their plants happy and healthy.

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