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What is the Best Potting Soil for Potted Evergreens?

Question: I have been a Fafard fan for years. I am planting my first container boxwoods along with a few containers of evergreen cedars for a westward facing terrace. What is the best potting soil mix for these, and do I need to add organic matter to either container? Question from Angela of Memphis, Tennessee

Answer: Boxwoods have different fertilizer requirements when compared to cedars, false cypress, or coniferous evergreens but will grow well in similar potting mix. Our mixes are rich in organic matter, so you don’t need to add more.

Boxwoods (Buxus spp. and hybrids) grow best in soils that drain very well but also hold water and have a neutral to slightly alkaline pH of 6.8 and 7.5. I would add half Fafard® Professional Potting Mix, which has the right porosity and water-holding ability for box, and half Fafard® Premium Topsoil, which is formulated for trees and shrubs, is a bit denser and breaks down more slowly. Be sure to follow up by feeding them with a good tree and shrub fertilizer (there are several on the market), and follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.

For evergreens, such as cedars (Juniperus virginiana), I would choose the same potting mix blend but opt for a fertilizer formulated for evergreens and hollies because these shrubs often like soil that is a bit more acidic (5-7 pH), though some are quite soil adaptable.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy Gardening,

Jessie Keith

Fafard Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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