Can I Re-use Soil From A Dead Plant?

It’s always sad when a plant dies. You have nurtured it for possibly even years and even though you didn´t do anything wrong it just died. Plants can die for numerous reasons but when a plant dies what can you do with it when you don’t want to throw everything just away?

Can I re-use soil from a dead plant? Yes. Soil from a dead plant can be reused as the natural nutrients remain in the soil. There is no need to dispose of the soil from a dead plant as most plants die due to reasons that are not related to the soil.

What Do I Have to Care For When Reusing Soil?

When reusing soil there are some things that should be done to ensure that the new plant grows healthy.

Mix up the old soil well to make it lose and “fluffy”. Remove any rocks and other hard items from the soil.

Spread the soil on a tarp and sprinkle some water while mixing so that it retains some moisture.

If the soil is older than 6 months then it is a good idea to mix it well and leave it in sunlight for a couple of hours. This will help to remove mold and any small bugs that might be in the soil. The sun’s heat will act as a natural anti-bacterial treatment for the soil.

How Can I Reuse Soil Properly?

Soil from a dead plant should be mixed properly to make it lose.

Plant roots will spread easily in loose soil but they are going to have a hard time in very dense soil. So if your soil is too dense you should break it up and mix it until it is loosened.

The soil must be checked for the presence of bugs, ants and other harmful insects. If there are any insects or bugs then they have to be removed from the soil before using it for planting. Introducing earthworms is a great way to make the soil become nutrient-rich.

You can also fertilize the soil.

Does a Dead Plant Affect the Soil?

Yes. But not in the way, that you might think. A dead plant can affect the soil by making it more fertile for the next plant. Any matter left behind from the previous plant, like roots, leaves etc., will decompose in the soil and add nutrients to the soil.

The bacteria and fungi in the soil help to speed up the rate of decomposition.

The organic matter left after decomposition is absorbed by the soil as nutrients. These nutrients are essential for plants as they help them to grow faster. Soil taken from dead plants is rich in nutrients and is ideal for reuse.

Should I Add Fertilizers Before Reusing Soil?

Fertilizers can be added to old soil before reuse to improve its fertility.

In general, the soil has natural nutrients in it that are sufficient for plant growth. Plants that have adequate water and sunlight absorb the needed soil nutrients.

Using organic fertilizers is a great way to improve soil nutrition without chemicals. These organic fertilizers can also be made at home with kitchen scraps.

Avid gardeners keep compost pits/bins to make their own mix for their plants. The improved nutrition value of the soil makes it beneficial for plant growth. Fertilized old soil can be reused for a long time as the enhanced nutrient value gives great results.

How Many Times Can We Reuse Old Soil?

Soil can be reused for many years and for many different types of plants.

The natural nutrients in the soil help the plants to thrive and grow at a good rate. Old soil which has been reused many times will develop a white layer on the top.

This white layer is caused due to overwatering the plant or due to fungus in the soil. The white layer needs to be removed and the soil has to be treated before using it for planting. A good treatment is to mix the old soil with fresh potting soil and leave the mixture in direct sunlight.

The heat and sunlight will kill any harmful fungus or bacteria in the soil and make it ideal for use.

Can Plants Grow in Old Soil?

Yes. Plants can grow in old soil if the soil is prepared well for planting. Old soil should be prepared for planting by following these steps.

Mix the old soil well and break any lumps in the soil.

Aerate the soil well and make it soft so that it can absorb more water.

Place the old soil in sunlight if it smells or looks moldy before you being potting.

Organic fertilizers can be added to the old soil to improve its nutrient value. If the old soil has been used for many years then it is a good idea to mix new soil to the mixture to encourage plant growth.

Which Plants Help to Improve Soil Fertility?

Old soil can be reused for many years if it retains its nutrition value to promote healthy plant growth.

A simple way to ensure that the old soil retains its nutrition is to plant soil-friendly plants. These plants add nitrogen to the soil and improve its nutrient levels.

Some soil-enriching plants are soybean, velvet beans, and cowpeas.

Buckwheat and millet can also be planted in old soil as they improve it and prevent weed growth. It is a good idea to plant these nutrient enhancing plants on a regular basis to improve soil quality.

How Should We Store Soil for Future Use?

Allow the soil to dry out completely before you start to pack it up for storage.

Spread out the soil on a tarp and lay it out in the Sun to dry out all the moisture. Soil should be stored in an airtight container or bag to ensure that it does not get affected by the elements.

Check the stored soil periodically to check for fungus, bacteria or insects. Ensure that the soil is stored away from direct heat and moisture to enhance its longevity.

Store soil used for planting flowers separately from soil used for planting vegetables. This segregation helps to avoid plant diseases caused by different bacterial strains.

What is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is a medium in which plants can be grown in pots. Potting soil and potting mix are similar products that contain the same elements in different quantities.

It is mainly made up of different kinds of fillers and substrates that allow a plant to grow. Most potting soils contain peat moss, organic compost, tree bark, and coconut fibers.

Some potting soils also contain special fertilizers and nutrients that enhance plant growth. Potting soil cannot be used to grow all plants as some plants require organic soil or topsoil to grow. In such cases, it is ideal to mix in topsoil and potting soil to create an ideal environment for plant growth.

What Qualities Should Soil Have for Promoting Plant Growth?

Correct pH Levels

The use of chemical fertilizers and insect sprays can change the pH levels in the soil. This will cause diseases and death in plants.

To avoid such situations lime is added to the soil to help it to regain its pH levels.

Moisture Retention

The soil should have good moisture retention capability.

This is essential as the plant needs to be able to draw water from the soil for its survival.


The planting pots should have proper drainage to move excess water out.

Excess water in the soil can cause rot in the roots which lead to the plant’s death.

Air Circulation

The soil should be loose enough to allow the air to circulate around it.

Fillers are added to most soils while potting in an attempt to prevent the soil from hardening.

What are the Different Types of Soils That Can be Used for Growing Plants?

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is rough to touch and it has large particles in it. This soil resembles sand and like it, the sandy soil cannot retain water.

This soil cannot be molded into shape even with moisture. Carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes can grow well in sandy soil.

Silty Soil

This soil is smooth to touch and can retain moisture well.

Silty soil can be rolled into shapes when it is wet although it does leave traces of dirt behind.

This soil is fertile but it does not drain properly as it compacts easily. Roses, herbs, and ferns are ideal plants that grow in silty soil.


Clay soil has very small particles in it and is easy to recognize.

This soil can hold a lot of moisture and can be molded easily by hand. Clay soil retains most nutrients and is ideal for plant growth.

Plants like Iris, Aster and other ornamental grasses thrive in clay soil.


This soil is darker in color and contains a good amount of organic matter.

Peaty soil is often used in potting mixes to enhance water retention and plant growth.

Peaty soil is great for growing a variety of shrubs and vegetables.


A whitish layer on top of the soil is an indication of high salt levels.

Many plants cannot grow in saline soil as the soil prevents water absorption.

Wheatgrass, sunflower, and barley are some plants that can withstand and grow in saline soil.


I enjoy all things outdoors and I love plants! I've never considered myself to be one with a green thumb, but it's my mission to learn, so I figured I would bring you along for the ride. :) Happy planting!

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