What to Do with Old Potting Soil: Can You Use It Once Again to Plant? Reusing It is Cheap!

by Snezhana Besarabova

Gardening enthusiasts often find themselves facing the dilemma of what to do with old potting soil, wondering whether simply toss it out or use for something. However, recycling old potting soil is not only environmentally responsible, but extremely cost-effective, especially when your green area is large. So, what to do with old potting soil – you can efficiently revive, and reuse it! How to benefit most from this sustainable approach?

Do You Throw Away Old Potting Soil?

how to sterilize ootting soil what to do with old soil after repotting

It’s a common misjudgment that old potting soil should be thrown off without a second thought. But is it a clever solution, if you decide to use it for something else and ask for an advice: what to do with old potting soil? While it’s true that soil can become exhausted with almost no nutrients and lodge potential pests and diseases over time, outright outing tends to be not the proper solution. If your decision is simply to throw it away, the positive aspect is that you stop the distribution of its pest and disease. It’s evident that old potting soil is most likely to contain pathogens and pests, which could harm future grown plants, if you want to reuse it. Discarding it is beneficial in terms of omitting these risks. In that way you start with a fresh, instead of old one, which normally contains balanced nutrients, aeration, and drainage, useful in ensuring healthier plant growth, which is a must for sensitive or high-value plants.

what to do with old potting soil reuse it


Alternatively, the cons of discarding is, in the first place, the negative environmental effect, as this action contributes to waste and can be adverse for the ambiance. There is a real concern that landfills are overflowing with organic matter. Instead of throwing away, but reusing it reduces the need for additional resources to prepare a new soil. Purchasing new potting soil is not cost-effective, especially if your garden is large. So, reusing is an investment in the long run.

What to Do with Old Potting Soil: Can you Reuse?

what to do with old used potting soil aerate it


Considering whether it’s okay to use it again depends on the soil’s condition, and the types of plants you are going to grow:

Signs of Usable Old Potting Soil

what to do with old potting soil sterilize it

When you notice that the soil remains loose and friable, it’s generally a good sign that it can still be used. Then, it should not have a foul odor or visible mold and fungal development, which means it’s healthy for future planting. Finally, check if your soil is free of weed seeds or roots, which is vital to not overrun your garden with unuseful plants.

Can You Revive Old Potting Soil?

what to do with old potting soil add amendment

Let’s make this used soil suitable for gardening once again, enhancing its nutrient availability and structure:

  1. Test with soil kit: Before reviving it, it would be a positive step to test for nutrient deficiencies. Soil testing kits could be found at gardening centers or on local agricultural extension offices. Performing the test is helpful in determining which nutrition elements need to be recovered.
  2. Mix with compost: Apply composted organic matter to your old potting soil, which is rich in nutrients and microorganisms that improve the soil structure. Prepare a mixture, adding one part compost to every three parts of old soil.
  3. Add balanced nutrition: Add a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to enrich the soil with essential nutrients. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the quantity of fertilizer to mix in, based on your soil test results.
  4. Help it aerate: Old potting soil tends to become thick over time, lowering its ability to drain in the right way. With the help of a fork or a tiller, lightly loosen it’s surface to help it aerate.
  5. Sterilize: If you suppose your old potting soil might have harmful bacteria, fungi or pests, it’s better to sterilize it. You should heat it in an oven at 180°F (82°C) for 30 minutes, or cover it with a clear plastic tarp in direct sunlight for several weeks.

How to Reuse Old Potting Soil?

what should you do with old potting soil empty the old containers

Benefit from reusing it by refilling pots and garden beds, contributing to eco-balance. There are some steps to perform this:

  1. Examine it: Check the old potting soil for signs of deterioration, pests, and diseases to be sure it can be used again.
  2. Free containers’ content: When reusing soil from containers, take away the old plant particles and empty the containers entirely. This assures that possible lingering pests or diseases will not contaminate future plants.
  3. Apply amendments: Mix in fresh compost, organic matter, and slow-release fertilizer.
  4. Refill containers and beds: Refill your pots, containers, or raised beds with the revitalized potting soil. Ensure it’s leveled and slightly firm, though care they not to be overly compacted.
  5. Plant cautiously: Plant your favorite crops or flowers, taking care not to overcrowd the containers or beds. Water thoroughly after filling the containers.

what to do with old potting soil in pots free from old plant particles


Read also: What Is the Best Fertilizer for Citrus Trees in Pots? When Is the Time to Fertilize?

And: Fertilizer for Petunias: How to Nourish to Keep Them Flowering and Look Healthy?

Embedded image

Copy code to embed the image: Big picture: Small picture: BB-Code: