using compost in houseplants

west9491(6)December 13, 2009

can you or would you advise against using pure compost in houseplants for potting mix, or would it be recommended to mix it in with a sterile potting mix??

i have heard something about insects being attracted to then indoors, i know my dog sure likes to sniff on em :)

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The primary problem with compost, peat, or coir-based potting soils is that they are very water retentive right out of the bag and they become MORE water retentive as the particle size breaks down after planting in them. Compost based soils are not a good choice because if you water properly (so that a good portion of the water you applied exits the drain whenever you water) the soil retains so much water that it creates anaerobic conditions and roots die or rot. If you DON'T water properly, salts accumulate in the soil and slowly kill the plant. Mixing it (compost) with another fine product like peat or (sterile) seed starting mix doesn't do anything to solve the problem.

If you mixed 1 part of compost with 5 parts of pine bark fines and 1-2 parts of perlite and a little garden lime, you would have a very good houseplant soil, but there are still soils even better than that you can easily mix yourself, if you're willing to go to a little effort.

Al

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 11:26AM
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west9491(6)

i'm all ears.....er....um eyes....

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 8:42AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You'll find the open end of a long discussion about container soils for houseplants, here.

You'll find the same original post here, but lots of additional conversation on the same topic.

The basic soil requires you to find a few ingredients, but once located, you'll be able to build a soil less expensive than commercially prepared soils, but more importantly, a soil that is far more forgiving and much easier to grow in. I promise your plants will love it - especially if you cultivate a couple of very basic fertilizing and watering habits.

Al

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 9:31AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Just from past experience.....

It is known out in the market that "vermicompost" is one of the best products and compost to mix in your soil for houseplants..They call it Black Gold!

I did just that. I used only a few teaspoon per 1 gallon pot in most my citrus and other tropicals a few years ago..Unfortunately I lost most of them to root rot because this product causing my once beautiful open and airy soiles mix to compact, breakdown and suffoctae the roots to my plants in just one growing season..

All the leaves showed signs of vibrance at the begining, then stress within just 6 months,for a lack of a better word. I will never turn back to these ways, especially since my local nursery took a good look at the roots and couldn't believe himself what manure could do in a pot..

After reading what Al as suggested you do, you will be opend to a whole new growing expereince for the better. My plants do awsome without the need of any of the compost you think they might need.

If you decide to take the gamble, goodluck..I am sure there must be some out there that know how to grow in this type manner, but that is not the chance I am ever willing to take, ever again...

Mike...;-)

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 1:13PM
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birdsnblooms

West, 'in my older plant books,' authors recommended using compost in certain house plants. Ferns are one example. Nowadays, there are other mediums that takes the place of compost. Offhand, I can't recall what they are..lol.

If I ever decided to use compost, 'yuck' mice, spiders and worms, lol, it would definately need baking..Use a disposable pan, bake at 375 for 40 mins..But I must warn you..it stinks up the house..lol..Still, if you feel a need to use it, it's worth the odor..
I baked soil many times, 'in the past' so believe me, I am familar with the smell. lol.

I don't know if it was you who mentioned manure. If you use it, the manure should sit at least 1 yr..fresh Manure WILL burn roots. Do you plan on adding compost/manure to your indoor plants? If so, which plants? Toni

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 3:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As noted, compost is a poor choice as any significant fraction of a container soil because of its fine particle size. Trying to amend it with products like perlite is like trying to amend pudding with perlite. Perlite does not change the drainage characteristics of compost, only the total volume of water the compost holds. If you start with a given volume of compost and add even as much as an equal volume of perlite to it, the perched water table remains at the same height and aeration remains minimal.

Manure is also a poor choice in container soils. It is extremely high in salts, it clogs air pores as it very quickly breaks down into sludge, and it's high N content makes it very difficult to add enough fertilizer to satisfy the plant's needs for other nutrients w/o elevating o/a fertility levels higher than favorable. It simply provides NOTHING in the way of nutrients you can't get in a good fertilizer and is a structural disaster, presenting a laundry list of issues to be dealt with.

Al

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:24PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Compost used indoors is not the best of ideas, it won't have the opportunity to interact with other things of nature (germs, microbes maybe) which it would if used as an amendment in outdoor plantings.

If anything, I've used Worm Castings (earthworm poop) collected for this purpose. The recommended amount was something like 1 Tablespoon per pound of mix. I think I used a bit less (2 tsp per lb. of mix). The plants perked up nicely.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:29PM
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west9491(6)

1 part turface
1 part soil conditioner
1 part grani-grit (growers)
1 tsp. epsoma lime granules

is that what i was supposed to get from that? lol
the soil conditioner would be fine pine bark mulch??
where can i get granigri and turface???

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 5:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Scratch the lime and use gypsum in the gritty mix.

If I knew where you live, I might be able to help with the 'where' part. The bark is best if it's main fraction is very close to the 1/4" size range or slightly smaller (1/8-3/8) and uncomposted.

Al

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 6:04PM
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