another bigbox store warning...

Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))July 15, 2014

I hope everyone else already knows this, but just in case...

I accidentally potted two of my favorite plants in soil/dirt that was not meant to be used in a pot.

It is the Ecoscraps that comes in the orange bag. it is labeled "Garden Soil Mix," but I didn't realize that this means you can't put it in a pot.

That is in small print on the back.

Clearly I am much too naive when I shop. [long sigh]

They have a different color bag online that says it is for pots, but I don't think they had it in the store when I went there.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You've touched on a topic that gets plenty of attention around these parts. The pictures on the bags are often so impressive it's difficult to avoid being misled by the hype. It's always good to remember it's not what's ON the bag, but what's IN the bag that counts. ;-)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:59PM
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but nothing the BBS did to mislead you.

So this thread should be titled

"Another Potting Mix/Soil Mix Maker Warning"

BBS's are not bad. If you do not live in a large urban area, BBS may be the best we have. JMO

I'm no expert. I just have my experiences to go by.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:03PM
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certainly not all potting soils are created equal. Certainly not anything that contains dirt/native soil. You learned a valuable lesson regarding potting mixes. No foul.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:05PM
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I have learned that dirt is OK cause it is in my yard and to never buy anything that has "soil" in the name.

make your own or buy potting mix

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:19PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"Soil" is a general and expansive term that covers just about anything you might find a plant growing in. It can mean a container medium entirely devoid of any mineral fraction as surely as it might mean an aggregate comprised entirely of small mineral particulates. It's just a word whose meaning is made clear in how we qualify its use. Degreed horticulturists regularly apply the word as broadly as the members here and at other forums. Never though, have I heard the word "dirt" used to describe container media by anyone knowledgeable about soil(s) unless the word was intentionally being used to create a desired effect.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:56PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Garden soil can be used in pots, but I would advise against it. It would have to be mixed to give it a better structure for pots. Best to avoid it and make your own dirt. That way you know exactly how much compost (such as peat) and other amendments are in the mix.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 0:20

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

Well, I am hoping the plants will still be okay.

I don't think though that it is good for business to sell things to people that are not suited for their purpose. It ought to say "don't use this in pots" in big letters *on the front.*

I only bought 2 bags -- if the workers there knew anything about anything, that should have been a clue that I was not using it to amend the soil in my (nonexistent) large yard. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened, and yes I do think that the BBS has a lot to do with it.

I also think it should have been labeled better by the mfr.

At this point though, I agree that I need to be much much more suspicious! Never before have I thought anything about the words "soil" or "dirt" when shopping for ... criminy, which is it again? Um, for whatever I am supposed to put my potted plants in. (And I have read about the differences here before, they just don't stay in the front of my mind. In this case, f.e., I was focused on finding something organic to plant in ...)

I definitely agree that making my own would be better! It's a bit of a production though.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:12PM
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This is one reason why I've started making my own soils. There are so many different types of peat-based, bagged soils on the market that many people find it difficult to know which one to buy. Some people don't care what they buy, while others will read every bit of fine print on each bag.

Even the people working at the big box stores (BBS) sometimes don't know what the difference is between the various types of soils.

The good news is that if you decide to make your own soils you will know exactly what's in each soil, and how to customize the soil for different plant types.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I left a reply to a thread on the houseplants forum yesterday. In asking the question (in bold), the OP assumed that a wide range of soils and soil properties would be required to provide a home for a very wide range of plants, but that assumption isn't valid. See what I replied.

1) When you have a plant, or randomly spur of the moment bring one home, how do you figure out what kind of soil that plant needs?? Growers often interpret the fact that because various plants tolerate some conditions with fewer complaints than other plants growing under the same conditions, that plants like or need a set of conditions that is clearly different from other plants. In fact, on a 5 basis, nearly all of the plants you're likely to grow as a houseplant (in containers) will do very well growing under the same conditions as almost all the other plants you're likely to grow. The lesson here is, don't confuse what a plant is able to tolerate with what it likes. If you make a habit of providing every plant you ever buy with a fast-draining, well-aerated soil that you can water properly, you might never come across a plant that shows an objection to your habitual default - including cacti and succulents.
I use 2 basic but very productive soils for everything I grow. One is based on chunky pine bark, the other based on a trio of of chunky ingredients - screened Turface, grower size grit, and pine or fir bark. What soil I choose isn't based on which I think the plant would prefer, rather, it's based on how long I think the plant will be in a particular soil before it gets repotted. I could get by very well if I had only one soil to grow in and no ability to amend it.


We could kick the argument about whether it's advisable to build soils with a mix of topsoil, peat, and or compost back and forth for a good while, but it shouldn't be overlooked that a very high % of problems people arrive here seeking remedies for are related to soils that compact easily and hold water in excess. That fact is inescapable.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:10PM
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It is pretty well documented that veteran container gardeners understand the importance of drainage/air in the medium of our pots. Some of us have even learned the hard way....hehe.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:14AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I guess I am another one who gets put off by the knocking of a product due to the store which sold it. If I buy my Quaker Oats from Costco, where I get a giant size box for the price of a regular size, what is in the box does not change. I live in a town with only one grocery store, who tries hard to meet the needs of his local customers, but he cannot be expected to compete with the likes of Costco. Al

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:45AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Yeah, this is not a "big box store warning" at all .. just a rookie container gardening lesson to be learned.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:28AM
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