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Using compost in potted plants


Joined: Jun 29, 2006
Posts: 1
I'm doing some potting, and replanting my gardenia into a bigger clay pot. I wanted to do a mixture of soil and compost, but my mom said she didn't think compost should be used in pots. But she couldn't remember they reason why. Can compost be used in potted plants??

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
Yes - compost is great in potted plants!

Just keep in mind that compost is rich with beneficial microbial life!  Compost in indoor potted plants could be a problem.  There are solutions to the indoor approach, but that's a long winded story!

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John Meshna

Joined: Jul 22, 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont
    Compost is a very good thing to add to potting mixes.  The best potting mixes use compost as a base material.  I sell a few different kinds at Dirt Works.  They work great.
  Another thing that you will love to use when re-potting your plants is worm castings.  Your plants will never look better and, you'll find that any pest problems like aphids and white flies will be a thing of the past.

[Thumbnail for wormcastings.gif]

John Meshna (owner)
Green State Hydroponics
1195 Dog Team Road
New Haven, Vt 05472
paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
It is true, enriching the soil makes for a healthier plant which can then fight off aphids, etc.

But there are many properties to compost (and worm castings).  One is that some products have been sterilized (baked at a high temp to kill all the microorganisms).  A really bad idea for outside use, bug generally a good idea for inside use.  The compost won't be as good, but it will also not introduce bugs, fungi, and other things that there would be defenses for outside, but not inside.

As if that doesn't complicate things a lot, there's more.

Most store bought composts are made from some sort of industrial waste.  And if not that, they often contain traces of something icky, such as long term pesticides.

Nothing you buy can come close to home-made compost.

Gerry Miller

Joined: Aug 29, 2006
Posts: 32
Location: Midlothian, IL Zone 5
One of the problems with compost is the weight. It much heavier than say peat moss, which is a crappy, dead, component of most bagged potting mixes.

Actually, I found this product to be the best potting soil mix I have ever used. With outdoor plants in the ground, I mix with the native soil and my own compost. In pots, I use just this mix.  Here it is:

PVFS Organic Potting Soil

Truly unique, coconut fiber-based potting soil. Besides having the benefits of coco fiber, also contains beneficial mycorrhizae fungi that are beneficial for root systems. The beneficial fungi in this mix are only viable for 2 years.This organic mix is an excellent all-around potting soil. In addition, it contains other great organic ingredients including worm castings, bat guano, bone meal, soybean meal, soft rock phosphate, greensand, fish meal, blood meal, langbenite (K-mag), bark, diatomaceous earth, perlite, and kelp meal. Beware of other potting soils claiming to be "organic", but which contain non-organic materials. Currently, no laws exist that regulate the organic status of potting soils.



Gerry Miller
Organic Consultant
subject: Using compost in potted plants