I always end up with too much potting soil!
I guess I like to have more of the stuff on hand, so I don’t need to return to the nursery and buy more…
But this leads to the thorny question of how to store potting mix properly. Can you just leave it and forget it? Or does it need special treatment, so it doesn’t lose its “super-powers” before the next time it’s needed?
In truth, storing your potting soil the right way will extend the viable life of the mixture. And if you have an open bag of potting soil, you really do need to store it correctly for later use.
Best Way To Store Potting Soil
Potting soil must be stored to prevent excessive moisture but not let the mixture dry out too much. Unopened bags can be stored in plastic totes or similar storage bins. Opened bags can be emptied into a plastic container with a well-sealing lid.
The main challenges for storing potting soil are:
- Humidity: can lead to mold development.
- Pest: which can contaminate the soil.
- Rodents: can damage the bag and contents.
- Split bags: can spill the potting mix everywhere.
A quick note on vocabulary: “potting soil” is the same thing as “potting mix.” And if you come from the UK, this is also known as “potting compost”! Confusing huh?
Short-term storage of your potting soil can be done simply and efficiently. Still, longer-term storage will require a little more effort and care to ensure your potting soil remains viable and usable for a more extended period.
The best way to store unopened potting soil is in the bag it came in. If the plastic bag is in good condition, stack the unopened bags in a plastic tote with a sealed lid. (Amazon) Storing it in a cool, dry location will extend the product’s lifespan.
Mold can be really pesky! Imagine the waste when the contents of your precious bags start to spoil!
For longer-term storage, the best way to deal with mold is to lower the humidity in the potting soil bags before storing them. This will reduce the risk of mold and fungal development in the moist contents.
An easy way to do this is to stand the bags in the warm sunshine for a day before storing them. The sun’s heat will cause moisture to escape through the perforations in the bag. If the mixture is in a ziplock bag, you can crack the top open a little while it stands in the sun.
When you’re sure it’s dry, put the whole bag in a storage bin to keep it protected.
How Long Can You Store Potting Soil?
The time you can store potting soil depends on your local conditions and how you store the mixture.
Already opened potting soil bags should not be stored for longer than 6 months, particularly if there is only a small amount of potting soil in the bag.
Unopened potting soil bags can last somewhat longer, between 1 and 2 years, if stored with some care.
Incorrectly stored potting soil can go bad!
To learn more about what can go wrong with your potting soil, read “Does Potting Soil Go Bad?”
How To Store Used Potting Soil
If you have a bag of opened potting soil and need to store it for later use in the growing season, you don’t have to get complicated with the storage method.
Roll down the top section of the plastic bag until it is close to the remaining potting soil in the bag. Secure the folded bag with a few laundry pegs to hold it in place. Place the bag in a cool, dark, dry spot that will not attract pests.
The potting soil stored this way will be good for 2 to 6 months.
If there is the risk of rodents or pets getting at the bag, place it in a plastic tote to secure it. The lid on the tote does not need to be airtight for short-term storage, but a sealed cover would be the best option for more extended storage.
When storing opened bags of potting soil, you need to check if the amount is worth the effort to keep it or if you should instead recycle the small amount in your compost.
Suppose there is sufficient volume in the bag to warrant storage. In that case, you can consider emptying the bag into a plastic container with a sealable lid. This is particularly useful if the bags are a little worse for wear and will not stand up to long-term storage.
Merging several open bags into one container will help reduce the storage space needed.
Note that if you want to reuse potting mix from previous plantations, you’ll need to revitalize the mixture next time you use it to get the best results. This can be done by adding some fine compost or organic fertilizer.
Where To Store Bags Of Potting Soil?
The best place to store bags of potting soil is in a cool, dry, secure environment where pests will not infiltrate them or have the bags ripped open by rodents and household pets.
A garden shed or a corner in your garage is an ideal storage location. However, if there is a risk of the bags being compromised or you have a rodent problem in your area, it’s best to store the bags in a plastic bin with a well-sealed lid.
You can store in their original bags or cut the bags open and dump the potting soil directly in the container.
Can You Leave Potting Soil Outside?
Potting soil can be left outside if you have a cool shaded spot where you can pile the bags and protect them from damage.
It’s best to store the bags elevated rather than directly on the ground. Raising the bags will promote airflow and prevent excessive moisture( which could lead to mold).
For example, placing the bags on a wood pallet is ideal for promoting airflow and keeping the bags out of any standing water should it rain. A gardening tarp like this thrown loosely over the bags will also prevent rain from causing a humidity problem. (Amazon)
How To Store Potting Soil Inside (Or In An Apartment)
If you need to store your potting soil indoors, the best method is to use a protective container that also looks good!
This will allow you to store your potting mix in plain sight, and it won’t look out of place.
Do not store the potting soil in a warm location, such as near a heating duct, and don’t store it in a moist or damp area such as a basement.
A pantry or a spare closet would be the best storage location if you cannot store the potting soil in plain sight.
Containers To Store Potting Soil
The potting soil can be emptied into a plastic container with a sealed lid. You can keep the mix in the original packaging and store the potting soil, bag, and all, in the container.
Clay or pottery containers with lids make an excellent decorative storage option, or wicker baskets with plastic inner linings make for ideal indoor storage containers for your potting soil.
If you have the space for out-of-sight storage, you can use stackable plastic totes to store the bags indoors.
How To Store Potting Soil Over Winter
Freezing temperatures do not damage potting soil as long as the humidity content in the bag is not too high. Moist potting mix will freeze, which can damage the peat moss, reducing the water retention capability of the mixture. When the ice melts, it will result in a muddy mess in the bag, promoting mold growth.
The plastic bags the compost comes in can also become brittle with exposure to the winter elements and burst open, spilling your potting mix everywhere.
Suppose you store your potting soil outside over winter. In that case, it is best to keep it in protective containers to guard it against the elements and excessive moisture if you have wet or snowy winters.
Conclusion: Creative Ways To Store Potting Soil
Storing potting soil is not difficult, and the care needed to make proper storage arrangements is not a lot of work. However, a little planning and inventiveness go a long way to finding suitable storage for the compost!
Large ziplock bags, airtight food storage containers, stainless steel, and plastic dustbins of various sizes all make great storage options for potting soil.