How Much Soil For 5 Gallon Pot

how much soil for 5 gallon pot

As summer turns into spring, many house plant enthusiasts look forward to repotting their rootbound plants.

While container gardening is becoming increasingly popular, it requires thoughtful calculations, especially when working under a budget.

Knowing how much soil for 5 gallon pot minimizes wastage and ensures enough room for the roots to grow.

Lucky for you, this post highlights several factors to consider for successful container gardening.

We’ll also provide some tips on the best potting mix composition. Read on to learn more;

How Much Soil for 5 Gallon Pot

How Much Soil For a 5 Gallon Pot?

You need approximately 0.7 cu. ft. of soil for a 5-gallon pot. However, different aspects, such as the type of plant and growing conditions, will determine the required soil amount.

So, before acquiring potting soil, you’ll want to research the plants for your container garden.

While pots come in different shapes and sizes, all 5-gallon pots hold the same soil amount regardless of the shape.

This volume is similar whether you’re using potting mixes or hydroponic mediums.

Bearing these aspects in mind, here are guidelines on how much soil you will need for a 5-gallon pot;

  • If you’re potting a fresh plant cutting or planting seeds, you’ll need 1 gallon of potting soil.
  • If potting an established plant in a small container, you’ll need about 1 1/2-2 gallons of potting soil.
  • For larger plants requiring a 5-gallon planter, you need approximately 3-4 gallons of potting soil for the whole bucket.

With these guidelines, determining the amount of soil for your pot will be a breeze. Also, for your plants to enjoy the best growing conditions, ensure you use the right amount of quality potting mix.

A little preparation and planning go a long way, increasing the chance of your plants’ success.

Potting Soil Mix Composition

Potting Soil Mix Composition

In container gardening, it’s vital to use well-draining soil that retains the right moisture amount.

You can purchase a pre-mixed soil mix or create your potting mix. While the latter is time-consuming, it’s also cheaper. Our soil mix comprises the following;

While the compost will provide nutrients to the plants, adding sphagnum moss or coconut coir will enhance moisture retention in the soil.

However, we recommend coconut coir instead of sphagnum moss since it’s renewable and has superior moisture retention properties.

Additionally, perlite aids in drainage and prevents the soil from compacting. The compost will decompose gradually throughout the season, releasing essential nutrients for the plants.

So, consider supplementing the plant mid-season by adding fertilizer to the soil.

Factors Determining How Much Soil You Need

Several aspects determine the right amount of soil for your container garden. These factors include the Size of the planter, growing conditions, and type of plant.

1. Size of your container

The standard Size for planters is usually 5- gallons. However, how to measure plant pots and containers may vary with different manufacturers.

Generally, your 5-gallon planter can hold approximately 20 quarts or 19L of potting mix.

2. Plant type

The type of plant you are cultivating also affects the soil amount you need for your container garden.

For instance, with their shallow roots, cacti and succulents require less potting soil than other plants.

On the other hand, tropical plants such as Monsteras require adequate growing medium lest it becomes rootbound.

3. Growing conditions

The growing conditions also impact the amount of potting soil for plants. If you reside in areas experiencing hot and dry conditions, you’ll need more potting soil for your plant.

Contrastingly, plants that thrive in cooler and wet climates require less potting mix.

Capacity and Size of a 5-Gallon Container

Capacity and Size of a 5-Gallon Container

A 5-gallon pot is suitable for growing flowers, among other plants. Here’s what you should know about a 5-gallon planter before acquiring one;


5-Gallon pots come in different dimensions. Some are wider, while others tend to run deeper.

The shape of the base, whether squared or rounded, should also influence your purchasing decisions.

Your typical rounded 5-gallon container has a 10-12-inch diameter and is about 12-15 inches tall.

On the other hand, squared 5-gallon pots are typically 9-11 inches wide and have a length of 9-12 inches.

Moreover, squared pots have a depth of around 12-16 inches. The mold used to manufacture the pot and the specific design may cause measurement variations.


A 5-gallon pot can support enough vegetables or fruits for one person for container gardening.

Common crops that grow well in these containers include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

What Type of Soil Should I Use for Container Gardening

What Type of Soil Should I Use for Container Gardening

Using the right potting soil composition for container gardening is essential. Unlike regular dirt or topsoil, potting soil is lighter and includes vital nutrients for the plant’s growth. 

Adding nutrients in potting soil is vital since potted plants can’t access the nutrients available in Earth’s topsoil.

Additionally, ensure that your potting soil drains well without compacting. So, you’ll want a pot with adequate drainage holes to dispel excess water. 

Although most pots come with pre-made drainage holes, use a power tool to drill holes, if not with your 5-gallon planter.

What Happens if I Don’t Use Enough Soil

When using larger containers for gardening, you must use enough soil. Using insufficient soil amounts may render your plant unable to get the right angle to access light. This may result in stunted growth.

Similarly, the improper soil amount may result in shallow root growth, leading to overwatering.

Also, since some finicky plants prefer to sway in the natural breeze, insufficient soil level will leave the plant unstable.

Consider filling the bucket at least 2/3 for the plant to grow and thrive.

Can You Use Excess Soil?

Since using less than enough soil is possible, you can also utilize too much. Most plants require less soil to develop taller stems.

For instance, excessive soil can cause stunted growth in baby tomato or pepper plants.

You can add more soil for most plants as they grow taller. However, refrain from adding more soil until you spot at least two adult leaves sets.

How Much Water Do I Need Per Gallon Of Soil?

Averagely, you’ll need approximately 2.5 gallons of water for your 5-gallon pot. However, this will always vary with the type of plant you’re watering and the soil’s drainage properties.

Here’s what you need for other-sized containers;

  • 1-gallon container: 0.5 gallons of water
  • 3-gallon container: 1.5 gallons of water
  • 7-gallon container: 3.5 gallons of water
  • 9-gallon container: 4.5 gallons of water
  • 11-gallon container: 5.5 gallons 

Benefits of Using a Quality Potting Mix

You may wonder why the potting mix is more recommended than garden soil for your potted soil. Here are several reasons why you should use a potting mix in your container gardening;

  • Potting mixes are lighter, making it easier for plants to grow in
  • Potting soil has better moisture retention capabilities
  • A quality potting mix offers better drainage compared to garden soil
  • Potting mixes contain essential nutrients vital for your plant’s growth
  • Sterile potting mixes are resistant to pests


How many quarts of soil do for a 5 gallon bucket?

You require about 14 quarts of dry soil to fill a 5-gallon pot or container. This translates to 0.54 cubic feet of soil or 15.4L. However, this amount can vary slightly depending on how much drainage material you place at the bottom of your container.

How many bags of soil for a 5 gallon grow bag?

You need approximately 0.7 cubic feet of soil to fill a 5-gallon grow bag. Typically, soil comes in 2 cubic feet of bags. This should be enough to fill up to three 5-gallon grow bags. Despite measuring about 13″ by 37″, grow bags offer enough space to grow up to 3 plants.

How much potting soil can a 5-inch pot hold?

Based on the diameters at the top, here is the amount of soil required to fill common sizes of round pots. 5″-6″ pot- 1 quart (0.03 cubic foot) 8″ pot- 4 quarts (0.15 cubic foot) 10″ pot- 12 quarts (0.46 cubic foot.

How do I calculate how much soil is needed for a pot?

You can determine the amount of potting soil mixed based on the shape and volume of the container. Similarly, the soil amount will depend on the type of plant and its root system. Also, whether you keep the soil loose or compress it in the pot will impact the amount you need

How much water for a 5-gallon pot

A half-gallon of water is sufficient for 1 gallon planted pot. For a 3-gallon pot, you’ll need 1 ½ gallons of water. Following this ratio, you will require approximately 2 ½ gallons of water for a 5-gallon pot. While this is the standard amount per watering, the figure can vary depending on the soil’s drainage and water retention properties. 


It can be overwhelming to figure out how much soil for a 5-gallon plant. However, following our guidelines can increase your plant’s chance of success.

Besides the volume, ensure you use a quality potting mix for your plants to thrive.

Gardening in a 5-gallon pot is easy and allows you to use less water and soil. Fortunately, these pots come in different materials and designs.

This makes it easy to settle for a pot that suits you.

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