If the potting soil goes bad has turned white, this is a sign that some mistake has been made in the care of the plant. To fix the problem with bad potting soil, you need to find out why it appeared, and take measures to fix it as soon as possible.

5 Reasons why the potting soil in a pot with plants is covered with a white coating

This is the first reason why does potting soil go bad.

The land is saturated with mineral fertilizers

If you overfeed a plant with a mineral complex, it will not be able to absorb all the fertilizer in its entirety. After watering, the excess top dressing will evaporate along with the remaining water and interact with the carbon dioxide released by the plant.

This will turn the mineral salts into whitish sediment that will remain on the surface of the potting soil. In this case, you need to stop feeding the flower and carefully replace the top layer of earth (1 inch) with a new one.

The main thing is not to damage the root system.

Does potting soil go bad

Overwetting potting soil mix

With each watering, a small part of the moisture evaporates from the ground surface. If you regularly water the flower, the process will become more intense and a whitish salt coating will appear on the ground. The situation can be worsened by heavy undeveloped old potting soil, a poorly organized drainage system, and high humidity in the room.

To eliminate plaque, first reduce the frequency and intensity of watering. Also, don’t forget to check the drainage (if the holes in the bottom of the pot are clogged, the excess water will drain away too slowly). In addition, do not forget to loosen the soil potting mix after each watering.

If you do not perform these procedures, over time, the root system will begin to rot and the flower will die and the potting soil goes bad.

Lack of moisture potting soil

Dry old potting soil is no less harmful than waterlogged, so do not forget to adjust the intensity and frequency of watering.

Most often, this problem occurs when the air in the room is too dry, which happens in winter (due to heating devices) or in the summer months (with extreme heat).

Does potting soil go bad

In such conditions, the moisture evaporates too quickly, and the salt sediment remains on the potting soil potting mix surface. The problem is that salt appears not only on top but also inside the ground, which has a negative impact on the development of the flower.

To avoid this, use a special humidifier or just put a bowl of water next to the flower pots.

Watering with too hard water potting soil

Tap water contains various impurities, such as lime and salt. If you do not defend such water before watering plants, all the harmful substances contained in it will remain on the surface of the soil and turn into a white coating.

Externally, it resembles small whitish granules that can be easily removed from the pot. Since they often have clean land under them, many growers simply remove the lime granules along with the top layer of soil, adding a little fresh.

But this is not the best option, because watering many flowers with undisturbed water can harm. Instead, it is better to let the liquid stand for at least a day or buy bottled water.

Does potting soil go bad

Infection potting mix or potting soil

If you constantly fill the plant and keep it in a room with high humidity, sooner or later this will lead to the appearance of a whitish fungal mold on the ground surface or peat moss. But this is not the only reason for the problem.

The infection can get into a flower pot with new plants or when transplanted into poor-quality potting soil. To fix the problem (peat moss), you can use therapeutic or systemic fungicides.

By the way, the latter type of drug is suitable not only for elimination but also for the prevention of fungal diseases and peat moss.

To avoid the appearance of a white coating or peat moss on the surface of the soil, follow the rules for caring for flowers, and regularly check them for fungal infections. If the RAID still appears, start removing it as soon as possible.

How to improve the potting mix soil

From the very beginning, mix a few handfuls of perlite into the peat-based soil mixture. This will not slow down the rate of decomposition of peat but will increase aeration.

Immediately insert the wick into the drain hole at the bottom of the pot. This will not help in the fight against compaction but will divert excess water, thereby reducing the likelihood of root rot.

old potting soil

At least every month, wash the soil thoroughly to wash away accumulated salts from fertilizers and deposits from tap water.

If you see a clear attenuation of the plant, the appearance of chlorosis, wilting, dropping flowers, and it is impractical to transplant, try to loosen the soil around the edges of the pot with long metal spokes, and at the surface – very carefully – with a toothpick. At this time, start therapeutic top dressing with liquid leaf fertilizer in half of the recommended dose.

Learn how to make soil mixes with your own hands. After all, each culture has its own requirements and wishes. In addition, it is economical: homemade potting soils will last for two or more seasons, while peat needs to be changed annually. The longer a potting soil sits, the more the organic matter breaks down.

Simple methods of soil disinfection for indoor plants

I love indoor plants — they create comfort in the house, delight with juicy greenery, and beautiful flowers even in winter. So I decided to create in my apartment a whole greenhouse of different types of plantings. But before you start planting and creating suitable conditions that are as close to natural as possible, you had to think about decontaminating the purchased soil potting mix.

Many times I have heard that even in the store land there are weed roots, which subsequently negatively affect the growth of cultivated plants, taking all the nutrients from the potting soils. However, there are more serious dangers, such as mold spores, fungi, microbes, and larvae of insect pests that cause irreparable harm and lead to diseases and death of plantings.

Method calcination potting soil

And there is only one way to deal with these unpleasant phenomena — soil potting mix disinfection. The most popular method for flower growers is calcination. The earth is placed in the oven for 30 minutes, heated to a temperature of 80-90 degrees. Another popular method is to treat the potting soil for 10 minutes in the microwave, turned on at maximum power. You can also steam the old potting soil by holding it for 1.5 hours over a pot of boiling water. But I had doubts about the expediency of these procedures.

peat moss

The fact is that along with harmful microorganisms, useful bacteria will also die, and you can forget about preserving the unique microflora of the potting soil that has been formed over the years, and it will not be possible to restore it even with organic fertilizers.


There are more gentle and low-cost ways to disinfect the potting soil, which will help kill parasites and do not harm the soil potting mix. It is also important to take into account that any disinfection should be carried out before planting, and not after it.

The potassium permanganate

Does potting soil go bad

One of the methods I found was quite simple. You need to dilute the potassium permanganate so that the water turns bright pink, and pour the resulting solution into the soil potting mix. Approximate proportions: three grams of the substance per 10 liters of water.


It should also be remembered that along with the soil potting mix, in the same way, you need to disinfect the containers for planting plants. Later, manganese will become a good fertilizer for young seedlings.

Cultivating the potting soil with orange peels

Another effective way of cultivating the potting soil with orange peels also caught my eye. It turned out that the skin of tropical fruit is rich in a useful compound for the plant — limonene, which is contained in essential oils.

Does potting soil go bad

This substance not only has a strong aroma that disorients insects in space and scares them away from plants but also has a destructive effect on the larvae of some pests, literally poisoning them no worse than any purchased composition.

A pleasant bonus was the content of citrus peel of such useful trace elements as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, which can become a wonderful top dressing for plants. In addition, this method can be used for flowers planted in the potting soil. Just spread the orange peels on the ground surface and change them when they get wet. This is a great way to add organic matter to your garden.

The method with sulfur of potting soil

Another good tool in pest control is sulfur. It is necessary to stick a few matches in the pot with their heads down and harmful microorganisms that usually infest the entire upper layer of used potting soil will die.

The method with common tobacco (shag) of potting soil

Common tobacco (shag) also has a beneficial effect on plants, which helps fight fungal diseases and repels pests. You can buy this product in the store, as long as it is as fresh as possible — the old shag is not suitable.

Use it as follows: dilute 0.2 kg of shag in 2-3 liters of hot water, mix thoroughly and leave to infuse. Usually, 2-3 days are enough to get a healing solution for indoor plants in potting soil.


But in such a concentrated form, it can not be used. You need to add so much clean water to get about 10 liters of solution and water the used potting soil with it. This method is effective not only indoors but also for suburban plants.

Bag of potting soil

Many gardeners grow seedlings themselves, on their windowsills. As a ground, they use so-called “purchased” land, which is sold in stores in packages. The contents of such packages are different types of peat, the so-called “substrate”. Not everyone likes the looseness of this potting soil, it would seem that you can grow on one peat? And many people add ordinary mineral earth to this potting soil.


For planting plants, flowers, and seedlings, we recommend using special bags of potting soil for planting seedlings with a low content of mineral and organic substances in bag of potting soil. Such bags of potting soil with soil will not harm the tender, young sprouts and gently stimulate their development. When transplanting flowers, it is best to use mixtures consisting of several types of peat, as well as coconut fiber, various micro/macro organic material, and other additives.

Such a rich organic material nutritional composition will increase the resistance of plants to negative external factors and allow the rhizome to strengthen faster. The substrates are packed in a special bagged potting container that prevents the ingress of moisture and sunlight. Potting soil may preserve useful substances and prevents possible contamination of the potting soil by pests and diseases.

How to refresh potted plants

If your plants are doing well and your potting mix looks good, there’s no real reason for changing potting soil completely. Instead, refresh potted plants by replacing a portion of the existing potting mix with a combination of fresh, healthy materials.

Can you freeze potting soil?

When potting soil is rich in organic matter, there’s a great possibility that your plant will suffer from fungus gnat infestation sooner or later. Since they live in the top of the soil, freezing the potting mix is a very efficient way to get rid of the gnats. Of course, take out the plant first.

How do you know if potting soil is bad?

That potting soil is worn out because the peat moss has decomposed. That peat moss can decompose even if you never take it out of the bag. If your potting soil has been sitting in your shed since last year in an opened bag and it’s gotten wet, toss it. If it somehow stayed bone dry, it should be OK to use.

Does potting soil need to be replaced?

Is it necessary to replace potting soil every year? If the disease was a problem last year, using the same potting soil can be a recipe for disaster. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi will live on in the potting medium long after the plants have withered away.

How Should Used Potting Soil be Stored?

If you’ve used potting soil during the spring, how can you make sure that it’s stored properly during the winter?
There are a few things to keep in mind:
Dry it out, and keep it dry
Keep it in the original bag
Put it in a storage tub with a lid
The store that tub in a dry place like your basement, shed, or garage