I need some potting soil help please

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Hi!
I am a huge indoor houseplant enthusiast, as I am lacking the ability to garden or even be surrounded by nature where I live.
Through trial and error and internet searches I have been learning more as I go, but I am afraid my houseplants are not as happy as they could be.
I understand that different types of houseplants prefer different soils. Originally I began filling my apartment with spiders, pothos, etc. that did well enough in whatever cheap potting soil I could find. Fairly hardy plants, they've been my gardening guinea pigs.
I have a hard time keeping other plants alive however. My fern and pink star is doing well but I've killed about 3 scheffleras in two years (and the current two seem stunted in growth.) I am convinced that my palm (majesty?) is dying a slow painful death, definitely a potting soil failure on my part. My peace lily has a continuous unhappy droop. A newer plant I picked up at Home Depot came down with a case of those little white bugs, they must've been on the plant when I bought it. My home remedies so far have not fixed it, may be time to trash it?
I have battled with fungus gnats that came in either a Scott's or Miracle Grow bag. Miracle Grow has absolutely given them to my plants in the past but otherwise grows most of my plants so well that I reluctantly keep buying it. I managed to tame the gnat problem using a variety of natural methods, but I would rather not fall for this again.
I have been eyeballing some of those aqua beads for a long time. Are those any good for plants like pothos and spiders?
What do I need to re-pot my palm in?
Does my peace lily need a different soil to be happier, or is it just sad from the dry indoor heat right now?
Is there a not terribly expensive potting soil I can find at a store like Home Depot that is good quality and not full of bugs?
Are there houseplants that absolutely REQUIRE a self draining pot in order to be happy? Some of my pots drain and some do not, I've mostly just learned how to control the amount that I water. I have limited space and small curious children, the less free-flowing liquids around the better.

Appreciate any help!
 

zigs

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Welcome to Gardening Forums

House plants aren't my area i'm afraid, and i'm the wrong side of the pond to advise on brands.

But I have battled fungus gnats.

I water just the bottom of the pot, they breed in damp soil at the surface. A layer of Sand, grit or vermiculite helps too :)
 
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Yes fungus gnats are annoying.

I wish I could give you advice but I only use bargain store brand soil.

I have to be cheap because I go through about 400 plus liters og soil each year for my pots.
 

Pat

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You have a lot of issues with your plants. The peace lily likes to be cool, if it is too hot it will bot thrive. If the soil for your plant is dry fill a bucket or dish washing tub with water sit the plant in the water for about an hour, the plant will absorb all the water it needs, sit the plant away from direct heat or direct sunlight, now that the plant has been watered well only water it once a week or when the leave get droopy.

The scheffleras is picky, it does not like to be moved or in drafts, have you feed it recently, you may want to cut it back to about 2 inches tall so that you can handle it, loosen the soil so you can see if there are bugs in the soil and how dry the soil is. If the plant is pot bond, cut the roots loosen the soil, have new soil handy and repot the plant. Also clean the pot with soap and water to make sure there are no bugs.

To control the nats I take a clear plastic bag set the plant inside the bag and spray the inside the bag, close the bag up with a twisty for about 2 hours, you may need to do this a few times to get rid of all of the bugs.

This is a lot, hope it helps.
 
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All pots should have drainage so that the roots are never just sitting in water. It seems your plants are only getting water on the top, or maybe water is pooling in the bottom of some of your pots. You don't necessarily need anything other than general purpose soil, depending on the plant, but some plants may require special food.

Your climate will also have a lot to do with the health of your plants, as well as your indoor temperatures. Most houseplants should not be sitting in direct sun, but don't need to be watered very often. There are some products for potting and feeding specific plants that take the guessing out that you can get at the big box stores - can't speak for the Depot, but we definitely have a decent variety at Lowe's.
 

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