Should You Reuse Old Potted Plant Soil?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:57 pm

Do you have small pots where the soil is all rooted and hard? Crush the soil with a shovel or knife and add some to your worm composter! The worms will love it!

You can reuse the rest of last year’s soil! The longer you carefully care for and improve your soil, the more revitalized and rich it will become! Now, at the beginning of planting season, you can empty all the smaller pots into a large container, crumble it up a bit, and mix the different soils together to produce your own soil. When you buy new soil, ask about its quality!

Erdengemisch und Blumentopf über den Winter mit Kefen und Zwiebeln bepfanzt

Should You Reuse Old Potted Plant Soil?

Up the old potted plant soil.

For a crumbly, water-retaining soil (substrate) in your flower pots, you can play with these ingredients:

Sand and stones: make sure that the watering water can drain well & also get inside the pot. You can find sand on the banks of bodies of water or in a sandbox. Mix sand into your soil mix before you refill your pots! If a plant likes it drier and less nutritious, you can add more sand (e.g. rosemary).

With pebbles you can add a drainage layer (about 5 cm) at the bottom of larger pots.

Clay: Absorbs and stores water and nutrients. Earthworms can use clay and decomposed organic material (from your kitchen) to make “clay-humus complexes” that are stable for a long time and very valuable for soil fertility. On your next walk, take a shovel and a small bag and collect some farm or garden soil, it should be somewhat sticky & malleable, this indicates a high clay content. You can add this soil regularly to your worm composter, or just to your soil mix for pots.

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(Worm) compost: brings new nutrients and soil organisms into your soil and revitalizes it. Worm compost should be no more than 1/5 of the volume. If there are still a few eggshell pieces or coarse, woody parts in your harvested worm compost – no problem! Just add it all to the mix and the composting process will continue in the flower pot.

Plant roots: constantly renewing themselves, the dead fine roots are super food for microorganisms. In addition, plants provide root excretions (sugars and proteins) to the soil organisms that live at their roots. This interaction results in a stable soil structure (crumbs) over time. So you can just leave last year’s roots in your soil mix – it would be a shame to remove them, just maybe chop them up a bit and mix them.

Links: unbelebte, trockene Töpfe vom letzten Jahr. Rechts: belebte Erde mit Regenwurmhäufchen

Keep large flower pots animated

Soil should be overgrown whenever possible, preferably by several plants at the same time (mixed culture). This also works in the flower pot! The larger the pots, the better you can combine different plants! For example, plan your tomato pots so large that also basil (has a good effect on the aroma) and some lettuce have space underneath!

If your soil is already really good and you have mostly large pots, it is often enough to loosen the surface a bit and mix some compost into the top layer. Just leave the roots of last year’s plants in! This is the best food for the soil organisms and brings humus and structure into your soil, the “substrate” slowly becomes an almost real “soil”!

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Mischkultur Tomaten - Salat und Winterportulak begrünt Töpfe im Winter


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts. Jones James

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