In the most simple way, I am going to try to explain what a Substrate is (it’s quite easy) aswell as its positive and negative contribution, which is even harder to explain. I hope not to confuse you with technical jargon. So let’s begin:


Practically every decorative plant in the world is in a pot and this has led to continuously growing demand for substrates.

This means that over the years many varieties of raw materials have been used for production, basically due to limited supply of any given material. I will explain this in greater detail in future publications.

Pots have space restrictions and so more fertilizer and more frequent watering is required. Therefore substrates need certain conditions:

A “universal” substrate (which meets the basic requirements of any plant) must:


  • Be a support for the plant

  • Give breathability

  • Provide nutrients and water to plants



  1. Density: We want them to be light for transporting. Both actual and apparent weight.
    Granulometry: The different sizes of grains which determine both breathability and moisture retention.
  2. Porosity: Particle holes. More pores means greater water absorption and increased breathability.
  3. Water retention and breathability: How water is absorbed and the breathability of upright substrates. The most important physical characteristic. The more homogenous xx then the higher the quality.


The three most important are:

  1. Ionic interchange capacity (What are you trying to tell me?) The name is the worst part. It basically means the ability to feed nutrients to plants.
  2. pH: Acid <7, Neutral =7 y Alkaline >7. This is highly important as not all plants require the same pH. For example, acidophiles (Rhododendrons, azaleas, etc…)
  3. Chemical Resistance: This resistance prevents plants from burning when you add manure or fertilizer with a high level of acid or alkaline. This is linked to Ionic Interchange Capacity.


Further on we will consider mineral salt content. Excessive amounts of mineral salts can make it impossible for plants to absorb nutrients and therefore die.


This concludes my theory. To compensate for such deep reading, I will show you In future publications how to easily produce some high quality homemade substrates.

If you still rather using classic soil instead of, then click on this link to see a fantastic Internet article www.urbanfarmonline.com:




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