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Reusing Potting Soil from Year to Year

Do I have to change the soil in my containers before planting them, or is it OK to reuse what’s left in there from last year?

pots with potting soil

Answer: When it comes to growing lush, thriving plants, healthy soil is essential. For the most part, you want soil that is loose and full of nutrients—thus making it fertile, well-drained and yet able to retain sufficient water.

It is okay to use container soil for two or three years as long as it has remained nutritious and healthy. One exception would be for starting seeds; in that case, use fresh mix.

Also, you do not want to reuse the soil if last year’s plants showed signs of disease or had an issue of intrusive pests, because the soil is no longer of good quality. Other signs of poor soil include: poor plant growth, increased insect intruders, inability to retain water and amplified growth of weeds, suggesting it harbors weed seed.

There are benefits to using fresh soil, besides the obvious advantage of higher yield in plants. You may find enhanced soil drainage and ability to effectively retain water, reduced chances of disease and pest invasion, less weed growth and overall better plant development with less maintenance.

Image: Laurie Lee
Want to know how to maintain the perfect soil to grow thriving plants? Check out the Horticulture Smart Gardening Techniques: Soil.

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