I am trying to pot some houseplants, but did not have much luck with the last ones I planted. They suffered from what I now believe was root rot. I am trying to figure out what kind of soil I need to buy to plant some basic houseplants in and what tips you can give me so I can have good drainage but the plant is still stable in the pot. With the last plants I had, the water just ran right through them any time I put a drop of water in them, even if it had been weeks since I watered them.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Using a regular, well-draining potting soil should be sufficient. You should water when the top of the soil of the plant is dry. With good drainage, the water will run through, but the organic material in the soil will soak up the water as it passes through like little sponges and then release it to the roots as they need it. Any more water than this, the plants roots will start to rot. This article will have more information: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/watering-your-houseplants-properly.htm
The description you give of water running right through the soil sounds like soil that is too dry. If you buy "potting mix", as opposed to "potting soil," it is made principally of peat, and if it gets too dry, it has to be "wetted" before it will absorb water- you need to submerge the pot in a bucket of water for a couple of hours, then allow the water to drain out. However, you thought your plants suffered from "root rot." This is caused by soil that stays too wet and never dries out. The roots drown and rot; is this what happened to your plants? In any case, no matter what kind of soil you use, you need to water the plants correctly. I would suggest you get a good quality potting soil for cactus ( it has enhanced drainage properties,) and follow the suggestions in the above-referenced article.