Is potting soil necessary for your plants? What to do if you accidentally used garden soil in pots? The truth is that even if it sounds trivial, you should only use garden soil for its purpose (which is, as you might expect, in your yard).
Using it in containers to grow plants will result in too much compaction and won’t provide your plants with the necessary nutrients for their growth.
Plus, because of its characteristics, you’ll probably struggle with drainage. If you can, you should avoid using garden soil in pots.
But what can you do if you accidentally used garden soil in pots? It is a common issue, especially among beginner gardeners.
After all, the soil terminologies can be confusing. But don’t worry: we are here to help you. And don’t think you are alone in this: many people still don’t know that using garden soil in pots isn’t the way to go.
The Difference Between Garden Soil And Potting Mix
You can use a variety of soils to grow your plants: the dirt from your garden, compost, potting mix, or the products you buy at your favorite gardening store.
But what is the difference between garden soil and potting mix? And why can’t you use the two interchangeably? The answer is much less complicated than what you expect.
Garden soil, the one you purchase at a store, usually consists of topsoil (a balanced mix of sand, clay, and silt that compares to what you’d find in the ground) and organic material such as pine bark or vermiculite.
So, garden soil is very dense. Using it in a potting mix might result in a lack of proper aeration and water movement, which will negatively affect the growth of your plants.
Your plants will be more likely to suffer from fungal infections and root rot. The compaction, poor drainage, and low oxygen availability make using garden soil undesirable in containers. However, it is ideal for growing plants in the ground.
On the other hand, potting mix is lighter and more suitable for growing plants in containers (as the name suggests). There are different types of potting mixes out there. Some are better to grow certain species of plants and vegetables. Always check the products’ ingredients before purchasing one.
Usually, the typical potting mix includes organic material, peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, fertilizer, and some wetting agent. Such a combination is ideal for potted plants as it ensures your green friends will get all the nutrients they need to thrive without struggling in a suboptimal environment.
You can mix potting soil and garden soil to create raised beds, but avoid doing so for your containers, as you’ll need to amend the mixture to prevent your plants from dying.
But what if you accidentally used garden soil in pots? Is there something you can do not to kill your plants? Jump to the following section to find out.
What to Do If you Use Garden Soil in Pots?
Let’s get things straight: using garden soil in containers can kill your plants. However, if you realize that you accidentally used the wrong kind of soil, you might be able to minimize the damage.
The best thing you can do is move your plant to a different substrate. But don’t throw the garden soil away: you can amend it to improve moisture retention, aeration, and nutrient content. Consider adding some peat moss and perlite.
Perlite improves drainage and aeration, while peat moss is best for increasing water retention. However, if you prefer a more natural option, switch to vermiculite: this mineral absorbs water very well and can even protect your plants from fungal infections. Coconut coir also works well in combination with perlite.
Don’t forget to add some fertilization to your substrate to boost your plants’ growth. Purchase a balanced slow-release product for best results. If you grow flowering plants, ensure the nitrogen content isn’t too high: you might get dense foliage but no blooms.
What to Do if You Accidentally Used Garden Soil in Pots: The Bottom Line
While using garden soil in pots isn’t ideal, you can fix the issue by amending the soil. Ensure you reach optimal drainage, water retention, and nutrient content to recreate the optimal environment for your plants’ growth.
If you can, save yourself some time and purchase a suitable potting mix for your containers. Don’t forget to read the products’ labels!
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