Using good quality potting soil is essential for indoor as well as outdoor plants. It acts as a growing medium for the plants and supplies them with their food, which is nutrients. It is why the healthy growth of your plants majorly depends on the quality of the mixture you use. So some of the common questions asked by the indoor gardeners are: Does potting soil go bad? How do you know if your potting soil has gone bad? What is the shelf life of potting soil?
We have answered some common questions regarding potting soils and their expiration date to clear up your confusion. Let’s have a look at them.
What Is Potting Soil Made of?
It is used for potted plants that have to grow in a confined space. This soil contains the essential nutrients that help the plants to grow properly in a small space. It also contains peat moss that retains moisture and provides better aeration. The loose texture and moisture-retaining ability of potting soil let the roots breathe and keep the plant healthy and fresh. If all the soil constituents can provide the necessary texture, moisture, and nutrients, the soil has not gone bad and is fresh to be used.
Does Potting Soil Go Bad?
Now that you know what makes up the mixture, let’s move to our main concern: does potting soil go bad? Unfortunately, yes, the potting soil does go bad after a certain time. But why does potting soil go bad? This is because all the organic content in the soil decomposes over time, and the soil loses its beneficial features.
Does Bagged Soil Go Bad?
The next question asked by the gardeners after ‘does potting soil go bad?’ is ‘does bagged soil go bad?’
Well, the answer remains the same, yes. But the shelf life of an unopened bag is obviously more than an opened bag. Bagged soil does not come in contact with air or moisture, so it retains its good qualities for a longer time. So why does bagged soil go bad at all?
The peat moss present in the soil decomposes even without coming in contact with the external environment. With its decomposition, other ingredients also expire after a certain time.
Does Potting Soil Have an Expiration Date?
The bags do not have any expiration date printed on them, so the question arises: Does potting soil have an expiration date or does every sample expire at a different time?
Let us clear this for you. The expiration date for all potting soils is the same if they contain the same ingredients. The timer to the expiration day starts when you open the bag for the first time. Each bag expires six months after being opened.
How Long Does Unopened Potting Soil Last?
After learning about the expiration date of opened potting soil, let us tell you how long does unopened potting soil lasts, so you can use your unopened bags without any doubt.
An unopened bag lasts longer than an opened one. It lasts for about a year or two.
How Do You Know If Your Potting Soil Has Gone Bad?
These four signs indicate that your soil has gone bad:
Due to overwatering or lack of oxygen, the bacteria in the soil grow rapidly and give off a rotten eggs-like smell.
The presence of flying insects is an indication that it is no longer good to be used. These insects are fungus gnats that can damage the roots of your plant. It is why the soil is harmful to them.
If you remember ‘how does potting soil go bad,’ you must remember the decomposition of peat moss. This decomposition leads to an increase in moisture and eventually the growth of mold.
As peat moss decomposes, the loose air pockets of soil are lost. The potting soil becomes compact and dense. This soil can kill your plant due to less air flow and less drainage. It is why it cannot be used.
How to Keep Your Potting Soil Fresh?
There are a few things you can do to keep your it fresh for a long time. The most effective one is to add a small amount of perlite to it. Perlite slows down the decomposition of peat moss and maintains it in good condition for future use.
Another method is to water the potted plant thoroughly under a sink. As water drains from the soil, it washes away all the mineral deposits and fertilizer salts. This keeps the soil from going bad.
Storing it in ideal conditions also increases its shelf life. You should always let the old soil dry before storing it in a clean container and dry location.
How Can You Reuse Your Old Potting Mix?
If your potting soil has gone bad, it is still not completely useless. You can still use it for various purposes, so never throw it out. Here are some ways in which you can reuse your old potting mix.
In your Outdoor Garden
Mixing old reserve in your outdoor garden soil can increase its organic content and its volume. This old mixture will boost the features of the already present potting mix in your garden.
In a Worm Bin
The old mixture is a good filler for a worm bin. Other ingredients, such as wet newspapers and soil, will keep the worms happy and surviving.
In a Compost Bin
You can recycle your potting mix after it has gone bad by adding it to a compost bin. It will increase its organic matter and add volume.
We hope you got a clear answer to your question: does potting soil go bad? In conclusion, it does go bad after a certain time because it loses its freshness, loses texture, and healthy nutrients. An unopened bag of your favorite soil stays fresh for two years, and an opened bag can be used for six months. But if your soil has gone bad already, do not worry. There are still several ways in which you can recycle it. Happy Gardening!