What's wrong with garden soil in pots?

chrisms(MS z8a)April 19, 2006

I planted some peppers in pots containing Scott's and Miracle-Gro brand garden soils. According to the directions, those products should not be used in pots. I'd like to know why. The two peppers I planted two weeks or so ago seem to be doing well. I planted a third yesterday.

God bless,


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username_5(banned for no reason)

Garden soil = yard dirt. Scotts and Miracle Grow mixes = potting soil.

If you used bagged potting soil in pots then this is normal and not discouraged.

using yard dirt in pots is discouraged because even the best yard dirt is heavy and doesn't drain as well as potting mixes. Yard dirt tends to have clay in it which when dry resists water and these soils tend to pull away from the sides of the pot when dry so watering them is a pain as the water runs down the side of the pot and out the drainage holes.

Don't get me wrong, you CAN use yard dirt in pots and make it work, it is just more hassle than using potting soil and overall results are less likely to be as good.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 1:55PM
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I think Chrisms means Garden soil as in bagged.
Chrisms whats in the garden soil that you bought?
Maybe there's a heavy concentrate of something that needs some room to expand and a pot might be too tight of a space. Also, they formulate the garden soil so that it can amend the "yard dirt". I know the soil I use, Amend has all kinds of stuff in it.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 11:51PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

CKB, the reasons for not using 'dirt' in your containers, bagged or otherwise, are numerous. If you don't mind, I'm going to link you to a long but fascinating thread starring our own Al (tapla). If you take the time to read it, you will be much the wiser. It will answer your questions and then some. Plus, you'll get an honorary degree!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Come on, don't be afraid. It just looks scary.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 1:50PM
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kitha1215(z8/Central Louisiana)

Well, I find that there's absolutely no difference between garden soil and potting soil; except of course that the potting soil is created to hold more water. However, I too once pondered this very same question and after using garden soil in pots and vice-versa I came to the conclusion that they both do the same thing--you know serve the same purpose. Now be that as it may, I don't know what the effect would be when it comes to vegetables but for flowers they both work the same way. All my plants are growing beautifully and I've mixed the soils more than once. I don't know if my zone has anything to do with it, but it works for me.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 12:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Even if garden or topsoil has no clay (finest of soil particulates) in it, it's still to fine for use in containers. Oh, you might get by with using it, but you make your growing efforts much more difficult than they need to be. Air porosity in container soils should be a, if not the, primary consideration when building soils. Introducing garden/topsoil into container soils destroys air porosity, creates unnecessary compaction, and usually causes soil to hold more water than is healthy for roots. Unless your reason(s) for using it arise from economic necessity, I would eliminate its use.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 5:47PM
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