AVOID in ground soil - a better alternative to use for your plants!


Established Member
Hey everyone!

I don't know about you all, but for the longest time I had the WORST luck with my plants and soil. I originally started using Miracle gro's organic in ground soil, but quickly noticed that the soil in my enclosure's plants was becoming foul, stunk like a swamp, and almost overnight, became infested with hundreds of fungus gnats. It got so bad that the little assholes got out of my enclosures and made their way into my collection of 30+ houseplants, infesting literally every plant I had. I was at a loss and thought it was just the batch of soil I got, so I repotted into a new bag of the same stuff, and for a week or two, it seemed better, until they reared their ugly faces AGAIN.

It became my ultimate goal to find a soil that was safe for chameleons, healthy for my plants, and allowed adequate drainage. The problem with the ones that are organic with no added fertilizers or perlite is that they are typically made with compost - which stinks when it becomes wet for a prolonged amount of time, and can cause numerous issues with plants (when wet for a prolonged amount of time), such as the aforementioned fungus gnats. I literally even bought a book at a used bookstore about how to organically eradicate these bastards and nothing worked.

Finally I came across a "recipe" for soil that allowed for complete control of ingredients and "customization" of amount of drainage. The mixture is a simple combination of coco coir, earthworm castings, and your choice of drainage material - pumice, clay balls, or orchid bark.

it's simple:

50% coco coir
25% earthworm castings
25% drainage (Orchid bark/pumice/clay balls)

You can even adjust the amount of drainage for plants that need more aeration, or those that are directly underneath misters.

For more information and a tutorial, here is the source of where I got it:

She also notes that she sometimes uses perlite or slow release fertilizer - these aren't safe for chameleons, so ignore that part.

A quick note on pumice - This is what I opted for my choice of drainage, but in the future I will be using orchid bark. To ensure my chams don't accidentally get into the pumice, I saved a bit of coco coir and put about 2-3" of it (without the other stuff) on top. If you have a female, I recommend putting stones on top as well. This all isn't necessary if you use orchid bark.

I have been using this soil mixture for all of my plants, not only the ones in my enclosures, and they LOVE it. Inside my enclosures, I have had no problems with fungus gnats, and my plants actually seem to dry well between mistings, so you're likely going to avoid any more overwatering deaths!

The ingredients are also super easy to find, and aren't overly expensive. I'll list the cheapest options I was able to find and purchase, but always check local greenhouses and nurseries to see if they have better deals. I was at one today and found a HUGE bag of those coco coir bricks for like $10 which is a steal!

Coco Coir - Amazon $25 OR Petsmart $14
Pumice - Amazon $13
Orchid Bark - Lowes $6
Earthworm Castings - Walmart $5

While I realize $25 all together for soil seems a little pricey, I seriously think it's worth it in the long run!! It makes a LOT too, I was able to use it for both of my enclosures with 4+ plants in each. And you can store it well in a plastic bin!

Hope this helps!


Chameleon Enthusiast
Awesome! I'll have to give it a try! I use FoxFarms right now, and love it, as well as using worm castings as a fertilizer, but I already have all the ingredients for this, and it'll be cheaper for me if I like it more!
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