What's the difference between soil and seed starting mix?

TheCakePlantMarch 17, 2013

I got both of these but I'm wondering if I didn't need to buy seed starting mix in the first place. Like when I first plant my seeds will there ever be a difference between using this dirt? Is it healthier for the plant? Can I use potting soil to germinate? Like what is the actual difference as far as health of the plant goes when deciding which one to use?

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Potting soil and "seed starting mix" are about the same thing, both made from peat moss, coir, finely shredded bark, or a combination of those. None of the commercially available soilless mixes will contain any mineral soil particles. I have found that products sold as "seed starting mixes" are usually a bit more expensive then most potting soils and may have more "fertilizer" (unnecessary) in them.
I have seen no difference in germination and growth between one or the other.
Of course the manufacturers and sellers of these products will tell you different because they make more profit selling tghe "seed starting mixes".

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:52AM
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Mixes like Fafard #2 (vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss) are used by lots of professionals because it gives the seeds the right conditions for germination. This mix really doesn't have any nutrition to speak of, but the seeds themselves provide nutrition to the plant for awhile.

So, seed starting mixes aren't really soil, but they are good for starting seed. You get a high percentage of germination. You have to transplant the plant to real soil within a month or two, or it will get sick from lack of nutients.

"Potting soil" really isn't soil from a soil science perspective, though it may have some nutrition. Soil is the mineral stuff in the earth's horizon.

I used to be skeptical about seed starting mix, but I'm sold on Fafard. I buy just one bag a year, because it goes a long way.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:59AM
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the difference between soil and seed starter mix?

vast, if you grow plants from seed. particle size, for starters. see below for more. porosity, fertility.

we can further separate seed mix from potting soil. seed mix is a much finer material than regular potting soil. and if you ever try to grow snapdragons from seed, this is important. or any extremely small seed, and in particular those that require light for germination.

as an fyi, you may want to check claims of added fertilizer. seed mix seldom has fertilizer added, unless a custom mix for a specific purpose.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:18PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Unless sterile, soil mixes can contain fungus spores and pathogens in the _soil_ part which can attribute to damping-off.

Generally, starter mix is soil-less which can dramatically help to prevent damping-off.

Neither will make a difference in a healthier plant other than using a soil-less media for germination/seedlings increases the chances they will live.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:18AM
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