We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Seed Starting Soil?

By Christina Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are many choices of seed starting soils and mediums, such as garden soil and compost mixes, soilless mixes that contain mainly sphagnum peat moss, or other environmentally-friendly mixes containing coconut coir, the fibers extracted from the husk of a coconut. Which seed starting soil is appropriate depends on the type of vegetation being grown. Some seed starting mixes actually contain no soil, because soils are sometimes too heavy for seed germination and may contain diseases that could be harmful to plants. There is a current trend toward soilless mixes, but there are many gardeners who use traditional seed starting soil with success.

The seed germinating mix recommended by Cornell University is soilless “peat-lite,” which is a mix of sphagnum peat moss and either perlite or vermiculite. This mix is commonly found in pellet form and is a popular choice, as it prevents plants from damping off. Damping off is caused by fungal diseases that propagate amongst seedlings in growing containers, and using soilless germinating mixes, like “peat-lite,” is a solution to the problem. Sphagnum peat moss is partially decomposed and efficient at water retention, while perlite is a volcanic glass that is light in weight after heat processing.

The harvesting of peat moss and other vegetation can be destructive to wetlands, however, and there are other seed starting mediums available that are deemed more environmentally-friendly. Coconut coir is one of these mediums, as the husks of the coconut are more sustainable and are almost always free of disease because they contain a beneficial fungus. The fibers used in this seed starting soil contain colonies of Aspergillus terreus, a beneficial fungus that resists pathogenic fungi known to cause detrimental plant disease.

When a seed starting soil is used, gardeners can also supplement the substrate with natural additives to fight off fungus and diseases as well. For example, using a fine dusting of cinnamon on the surface of the soil fights fungus, as does frequent misting with diluted chamomile tea. These types of methods, used in addition to seed starting soils, will most often times be conducive to healthy plant cultivation. Some more complex mixes contain traditional soil, coupled with compost and lime, which provides plants with the necessary components for healthy growth and disease prevention. The lime raises the pH of the mix, which is an inhospitable environment for many common pathogens, and it also provides calcium and magnesium, nutrients that are often times depleted in normal ground soil.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.