Accidentally Used Garden Soil in Pots? (Here’s What to Do!)

When you grow many plants inside and outside, you might run into a situation where you accidentally used garden soil in pots. Don’t worry! You can still use your soil for other projects, so you don’t have to waste any of your supplies due to this mistake. Our guide will tell you everything you should do if you accidentally used garden soil and pots and potting soil alternatives you can use if you don’t have any on hand.

When you accidentally use garden soil in pots, you can re-pot your plant and save the soil for other gardening projects. If you don’t have any potting soil, you can find alternative soils to use as a potting mix.

Can Garden Soil Be Used in Outdoor Pots and Planters?

You should not use garden soil in outdoor pots and planters because it could compromise your plant’s health. If you’re growing a sensitive plant, it might not even survive in this soil. However, even though you are growing the plant outside, that doesn’t mean you can be reckless with the material you grow the plant in. Any potted plants need a potting mix to grow successfully and usually cannot thrive in garden soil.

What Happens if You Accidentally Use Garden Soil in Pots?

If you accidentally use garden soil in a potted plant, you’ll run into a situation where you can’t drain the water properly. This situation could cause your plant to drown or cause root rot. Also, plants that require a potting mix typically need more aeration than plants you grow in the ground. When you use garden soil inside of your pots, you don’t allow any air filtration to get through the roots of your plants.

If you accidentally use garden soil in pots, you need to fix the situation immediately, or you can kill your plant. You must ensure you use the right grow medium if you want your plant to thrive for a while instead of dying off rapidly. If your plant comes in contact with garden soil for a few minutes, you won’t have to worry about damage done because that’s not enough time to hurt your plant. However, leaving the plant in garden soil for a few weeks might mean you’re out of luck.

What to Do If You Used Garden Soil in Your Pots

What to Do If You Used Garden Soil in Your Pots?

If you used garden soil in your pots, you must amend the soil as soon as possible. This means you’ll need to keep a potting mix on hand to replace the garden soil immediately. Follow the steps below to resolve your soil problem for your potted plant.

1. Gather Supplies

Gather your supplies, including the plant, the container, and the potting mix you’ll replace your garden soil with.

2. Remove Plant from Pot

Hold your plant sideways inside its current container and tap the bottom to loosen the plant and remove it. You don’t want to yank it because you could risk damaging your roots or plant stem.

3. Gently Remove Soil from Plant

After you remove the plant with the soil from the container, you need to use your hands and gently remove the soil from the roots and slightly separate them. Be extremely cautious and gentile, or you will rip your roots and could damage your plant.

4. Remove Remaining Garden Soil from Pot

Use a small brush or your hands to dust out the remainder of the garden soil from your pot.

5. Add Potting Mix

Add your new potting mix to the new or current pot you want to hold your plant in.

6. Insert Plant into Potting Soil/Pot

Place your plant on top of the new potting mix in your pot and gently add more potting mix until you cover your roots and you don’t have to hold it to set it upright.

7. Water it!

Give your plant a fresh dose of water inside your new potting mix so you can start the growing process where you left off.

If you accidentally used garden soil in your potted plant, you need to replace that soil entirely. There’s not as much nutrients. Re-potting your plants is the best way to get your plant growth back on track and avoid root rot and a dead plant.

Read our related post on How to Loosen Compacted Soil in Pots? here.

What’s the Difference Between Gardening Soil and Potting Soil?

Gardening soil uses a mix of native soils for the plant you’re trying to grow. Typically, gardening soil doesn’t have much aeration because you plant your crop directly in the ground. Alternatively, potting mix is typically composed of moss, bark, and perlite. This mixture makes it easy for your potted plants to drain instead of retaining all the water you provide.

If your potted plant hangs on too much water, then you put your plant at risk of root rot. Root rot will eventually kill your plant by starving it of all the nutrients it needs. Alternatively, garden soil is great for plants to grow in the ground because it ensures that you give your plant enough moisture.

Why Is Potting Soil So Much Better for Pots?

Potting soil is much better for potted plants because you will give your plant enough aeration and the right amount of water. This soil is not as dense as garden soil, so that it won’t hang on to moisture for as long. Many assume you want your plants to hang onto as much water as possible, but this isn’t the case. If you give your plant too much water, it will die the same way it would if you didn’t give it enough water. Potting soil can help you avoid that problem altogether.

Can You Mix Potting Soil and Gardening Soil Together?

Some people like to mix potting soil with gardening soil using outdoor raised garden containers. However, if you only plan on growing your plants inside a pot, it would be best to avoid mixing the two growth mediums. Always research your plants to determine their demands before mixing the soils to determine if it’s the right fit for you. Some plants will benefit from this combination, and others could die from mixing soils.

Are There Any Potting Soil Alternatives?

Are There Any Potting Soil Alternatives

You can use potting soil alternatives like Moss, clay, rocks, and sand. If the materials you use are rich in nutrients and drain easily, they could be suitable potting soil. However, you should never use garden soil or dirt to replace potting soil because it will destroy your potted plants. You can also use compost as a potting soil alternative because it will drain easily, and composting is great for the environment.

Whichever ingredients you use for your potting soil alternative, ensure that you research ingredients to learn if they work for your plant. Some plants have different nutrient demands and acidity levels than others. You need to be aware of that before you create your potting mix.

What is Topsoil, and is it Different than Garden Soil?

Garden soil is a type of topsoil that has additional nutrients and compost. Topsoil gets its name because it is the highest level of soil you’ll find in the ground. Typically, this soil is naturally enriched with plenty of nutrients for plants to thrive. The top layer of the earth’s soil is the layer that has the most natural nutrients.

So, topsoil and garden soil are basically the same thing, but garden soil typically has more ingredients to keep the plant fed. for example, if you buy topsoil for your garden, you might need to add your compost and nutrients to the soil to keep your plants alive.

Can You Use Topsoil in Pots and Planters?

It would help if you never used topsoil for potted plants because they need a mix that allows plenty of drainage and airflow. Using topsoil and your planters might cause root rot and kill your plants because they can’t drain properly. Also, potted plants typically can’t thrive if you give them too much water and let them sit too long. So, if you accidentally use topsoil in your pots and planters, you should replace it with a potting mix safe for your potted plants.

Final Thoughts

If you accidentally used garden soil in pots, you don’t have to worry because you must re-pot your plant. To re-pot your plant, please remove it from its original container, dust the roots, and replace your garden soil with an appropriate potting mix. Also, topsoil and garden soil are extremely similar, so if you accidentally use topsoil, you should also replant your crop in potting mix.

To make your potting mix, you can use moss, sand, and clay to replace store-bought potted plant medium. However, before you make your potting mix, you’ll need to research your plant and learn about its demands to ensure you provide it with the right nutrients. Neglecting to do your research before creating your potted plant mix could cause your plant to die.

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