Published by Chris on June 4, 2021

What is horticultural loam?

What is horticultural loam and why is it so popular? Horticultural loam is a soil mix that has created some controversy throughout the horticulture community. Several companies now produce this “soil” blend and at least one of these companies pitches it as an improvement over peat moss, which has been the standard growing medium for decades.

Many people have used this medium with great success but others (even among professionals) consider it to be nothing but sand, limestone and crushed rock. It should be noted here that when something does not work in your garden, you are responsible for making sure the materials you use are right for your plants and your environment, so do your homework before deciding if horticultural loam is right for you!

Advantages of loam soil

There are many benefits to gardening with loam soil relative to other varieties.

  • Loam is the perfect soil to have in your garden, as it drains quicker than silt or clay but slower than sand.
  • It contains many more nutrients and loam is far easier to work with than clay due to its lightweight and less likelihood of being compacted.
  • In short, loam practically does everything right for a healthy garden.

Disadvantages of loam soil

The disadvantages of loam are very few and perhaps limited to the single issue of it is much harder to choose what to grow in it, given the amount of choice one with loam soil has..

Loam soil is highly recommended for vegetable gardens

This is because it drains out excess water extremely fast, meaning that the vegetables will be easier to harvest and are therefore higher quality. It also contains many nutrients which help with the healthy growth of plants in general. Loam soil also has an amazing ability to hold onto moisture so that when it rains, there is still some moisture left beneath the loam layer meaning that your plants will have a constant supply of water throughout the hot summer months.

Remember, horticultural loam is not right for every garden.

It is heavy in some places and you may find it too porous.  In a container garden, for instance, the weight of the soil may cause your pots to tip over.  If in doubt, you can always add more sand or perlite/vermiculite to lighten up horticultural loam.  You do not want a recipe that is 50% sand and 50% clay! Plants that typically do well in loam soil include:

Fruit trees

  • Soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants
  • Vegetables such as peas, beans, beetroot, onions and salad crops
  • Annual bedding plants
  • Perennial flowering plants