How Much Soil for a 5 Gallon Pot?

Container gardening is becoming an increasingly more common gardening technique, especially for gardeners who don’t have a lot of green spaces to work with. Using 5-gallon pots to plant your garden is the best route to take as they provide a deep enough area for roots to grow. But how much soil do you actually need for a 5-gallon pot?

To fill one 5-gallon pot with soil you need two thrids (⅔) from a full cubic-foot bag. The amount of soil you use in each pot depends on how much drainage material is added, it will also depend on what you plan to grow. While shallow-rooted plants may need you to fill the pot higher, deep-rooted plants won’t.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about soil in 5-gallon pots.

What Type of Soil Should I Use?

When doing any type of container gardening, it’s important you use potting soil. Unlike typical topsoil or simple dirt, potting soil is much lighter and contains important nutrients a plant needs to grow. These nutrients are added to potting soil because your plants won’t have access to the nutrients in the Earth’s topsoil.

Miracle-Gro Potting Mix 1 cu. ft.

The easiest and most popular option is Miricle-Gro Potting mix, this stuff is available in 1 cubic foot bags making it simple to fill up 5-gallon pots. 

Does the Type of Pot Matter?

The most important aspect of container gardening is ensuring there is adequate drainage. Because the plants are contained in a pot, the soil can’t dispel excess water without help. Most pots will come with premade drainage but that isn’t always the case.

If your 5-gallon containers don’t have pre-drilled drainage holes, you can easily make some with a drill.

Can I Use a 5 Gallon Plastic Bucket?

 5 Gallon White Bucket & Lid - Set of 6 - Durable 90 Mil All Purpose Pail - Food Grade - Contains No BPA Plastic (5 Gal. w/Lids - 6pk)

Plastic 5-gallon buckets are the perfect container for container gardening vegetables, in particular. They’re deep enough to support deep roots while also being wide enough to plant multiple vegetable seeds.

With that said, these buckets aren’t made with drainage in mind. If you use 5-gallon buckets, you’ll need to use a drill to create drainage in the bottom. When drilling, it’s best to make one hole in the middle and consecutive holes further toward the edge at around 5-6 inches apart.

What Happens if I Don’t use Enough Soil?

When using larger containers like these, it’s important to use enough soil for a few reasons. First and foremost, not enough soil means your plant may not get the right angle or amount of sun it needs to grow properly. Not enough soil may also lead to shallow root growth when it shouldn’t be and even overwatering.

Finicky plants may also prefer to feel the natural breeze in some cases. Each plant has its own unique needs and soil levels are a pretty big part of that. If you want your plants to thrive, you should fill your bucket at least ⅔ of the way full.

Can You Use Too Much Soil?

 Just like it’s possible to use not enough soil, you can also accidentally use too much. Some plants may need less soil to allow the stems to grow taller. For example, using too much soil with a baby tomato plant can cause stunted growth. You can always add more soil as the plant gets taller, but this step shouldn’t be taken until you see at least two sets of adult leaves.

Final Thoughts

Plants need three things to survive: sunlight, water, and soil. Because of that, it’s important to make sure that your containers have the correct amount to allow your plants to thrive. By paying close attention to the specific needs of each plant, you can ensure they’re getting the right amount of soil.

Whether you use a 5-gallon bucket or a container with pre-drilled drainage holes, we hope this article has helped you.

Leave a Comment