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If you repot in spring or if a plant has died in the bucket and has to be disposed of, then the question inevitably arises as to where to put the old potting soil. Can this still be used or is it better to put it in the residual waste?
Use again or dispose of the potting soil?

In advance

At the beginning there is the question of why the potting soil is no longer needed. Because the answer already shows whether the old potting soil can be reused or whether it is better to dispose of it in a different way. So there are the following reasons why old potting soil is no longer needed:

  • the plant was repotted
  • she has dried up
  • or by waterlogging
  • reuse in these cases
  • Plant was attacked by pests
  • Plant died on a fungus
  • in these cases, always discard soil

There are various options for reusing or disposing of the earth.

Tip: If you do not know exactly what is wrong with your plant and why it may have died, then you should always dispose of the potting soil by throwing it away and not reusing it.

Discard or reuse potting soil

Reuse bucket soil

If a plant has just been repotted or if it has dried up, then the old potting soil from the bucket can also be reused and does not necessarily have to be disposed of. However, this must be prepared as follows:

  • Mix soil with compost
  • sand is also ideal for loosening
  • also some peat
  • leave for about a month
  • then compost has decomposed

The potting soil can now be used normally again in a bucket. It is important that after about a month of planting, the normal fertilization is started again.

Tip: If a plant has died due to waterlogging in the potting soil and it needs to be reprocessed, it must first dry thoroughly before it can be used again. To do this, spread it out in the sun on a cloth or plastic pad. Then you can prepare the bucket soil as described.


The old potting soil can also be reprocessed without compost. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • incorporate biological long-term fertilizer
  • for example horn meal or shavings
  • Use soil activator
  • like algae
  • microorganisms
  • bedrock meal

Tip: By processing, you can save yourself the trip to the material yard with the old garden soil to dispose of it there if larger quantities of garden soil are actually still good and undamaged.

Put in the compost bin

Small amounts of old potting soil that is not affected by diseases or pests, but which is no longer used, can simply be put in the organic waste bin. However, it must be completely ensured that the potting soil is not contaminated in any way. Because everything that ends up in the bio bin is reused by the community that collects it.

Put on the compost

The old bucket soil can also be put on the compost and lifted in here if it is no longer needed after repotting or the loss of a plant due to drying out or waterlogging.

  • mix well with the compost
  • can be used later in the garden
  • can also be dug directly into the bed with compost

Notice: When the used bucket soil is about a year to two years old, it hardly has any nutrients. It must therefore be properly processed again in order to be used again. However, it is not contaminated by pests, fungi, insecticides or pesticides and can therefore continue to be used in the bucket or garden.

For loosening garden soil

Pot soil is exhausted over time, so plants in the pot have to be repotted regularly and supplied with new soil. However, this old bucket soil can be used to loosen the garden soil.

  • Garden soil often very firm and loamy
  • Mix in old potting soil
  • same effect as with sand and peat
  • don't forget good fertilization with compost

Contaminated bucket or garden soil

If a plant is infested with pests or fungi, the soil in the garden or pot should usually be replaced, removed over a large area and disposed of.

  • is no longer suitable for further use
  • put in bag
  • close well
  • in the residual waste
  • not in the compost bin
  • Diseases can also spread here

Notice: If you compost or spread around the garden potting soil or garden soil that has been discarded due to pests or fungi or other diseases on the plants, you are also spreading the diseases throughout the garden. Absolute caution is required here.

Small amounts

If it is only a small pot in which the contaminated bucket soil is located, then it can be treated as follows:

  • put in the oven
  • or in the microwave
  • use small bowl
  • Heat the oven to around 200° Celsius
  • bake for 20 minutes
  • Microwave on high for ten minutes
  • Bacteria or viruses die
  • Potting soil can be processed
  • then further use possible


Use for mulching

If old bucket soil was found that is very dry and can therefore no longer be used normally, then this can be used for mulching.

  • simply sprinkle over the garden bed
  • protects against dehydration
  • distribute in the rose bed in winter
  • also suitable for tubs as an insulating layer
  • mix with lawn clippings, leaves, brushwood or straw
  • Basis for hedgehog or mouse quarters in winter

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