If you love to garden, you most likely have plenty of extra potting soil bags around your home and garden shed.
Why let good dirt go to waste when you can store it? To help you learn how to store potting soil the right way, I put together this short guide.
Do your potting soil a favor, and don’t leave it sitting in open bags.
The best way to save money and keep insects, moisture, and mold out of your potting soil is to seal it up for future use, so stick around to find out how!
How To Store Potting Soil
Exposure to moisture, snow, sun, insects, and animals can ruin potting soil, wasting your money.
Storing potting soil the right way will keep it fresh, bug-free, and mold-free. That way, you’ll be ready to pot plants during the winter months or refurbish your container gardens in the spring.
You Will Need:
- Large zip-top plastic bags
- Storage bins with lids (airtight containers are best)
- Disinfecting wipes or cleaning solution
- Mesh strainer or large flat tray
Step 1 – Gather Your Potting Soil
Collect all your stray bags of potting soil. Full and partial bags will both need special storage treatment.
Determine which soil you can leave in the bag and which thin, torn, or damp bags you’ll need to empty into a new container.
Group similar potting soil mixes. For example, you’ll want potting soils with fertilizer in the same bin, so you aren’t opening all the containers to locate one particular type of potting mix.
Related | Does Potting Soil Go Bad?
Step 2 – Clean Your Storage Containers
Gather enough containers to hold all your potting soil, even those you plan to leave in their original bags.
Wash or wipe down both the lid and the inside of the storage container with a disinfecting bleach water solution to stop mold, fungi, or bacteria from possibly infecting your potting soil.
Let the container air dry.
If you plan to dump soil directly into a bin for storage, make sure it has an airtight seal.
Step 3 – Check The Soil For Contaminants
For open bags of potting soil, pour out the mixture onto a large flat tray, or dump it through a large mesh strainer.
You want to look for insects, egg sacks, larvae, seeds, plant growth, or mold within the soil.
If you spot a few of the above items, remove them and keep the remaining soil for storage.
If the potting mix appears to have a full infestation of mold or insects, take it outside and dump it into your composter to recycle it for later use in your garden.
Step 4 – Dry The Potting Mix
If you store damp potting soil, it’ll grow mold or mildew, especially if you keep it in a warm environment.
Large bags of potting mix (unopened) that have been sitting outdoors are most likely to be damp inside as these bags often have tiny perforations across the plastic for airflow.
Mold may harm the growth of future plants, and it can look unappealing and possibly start to smell.
Inspect the potting soil for dryness. If the soil is moist, leave the tops of the bags open and mix up the contents for a day or two so it can dry out.
Step 5 – Seal And Pack Your Potting Soil
If your potting soil bags are sturdy, you can leave the mix inside, squeeze out all the air, and seal the bag.
You can roll non-sealable bags downward to force out the air, tape them shut, and place them inside a larger zip-top plastic bag to avoid any dirt spills.
Place sealed bags of soil inside a larger plastic tote, or go with a more decorative solution like a plastic-lined wicker basket or stoneware crock, as long as you’re confident small children or pets won’t mess with it.
If you can’t reuse the bag or wish to consolidate all your potting soil into one storage container, empty it into an airtight container with other similar soil mixes.
Lastly, label your storage containers, so you know what is inside.
Storing Potting Soil Over Winter
Having potting soil available during winter is handy to repot plants you may purchase or receive as gifts around the holidays.
Keeping a stash of potting soil indoors keeps it in good condition. This video highlights some good ways to store potting mix indoors that are inexpensive yet hide it in an attractive container.
It’s better to use smaller totes with lids for indoor soil storage, so it’s easier to stack them on a shelf or slide into a cabinet.
If you don’t store soil in the original bag, cut off the bag’s front and tape it to the lid to quickly see what product is inside.
Place bins in a location free of high humidity. A closet or pantry is better than a damp basement.
It’s perfectly safe to store potting soil outside over the winter.
The cold temperatures won’t harm the soil, but harsh weather can degrade the bag. Tears or cracks in the plastic let in insects or water and leave behind messy piles of dirt.
Moving potting soil into a large bin with a lid is the best solution.
If you don’t plan to reopen the bin for several months, use duct tape around the edges to ensure a tight seal against moisture and bugs.
Leave the bins outside or place them in your garage or shed for more protection from humid conditions.
Depending on how much soil you have, you can use thick plastic totes. My favorite is a lidded plastic garbage can with wheels. You can roll up and seal bags of soil and stack them inside the can or bin or empty all the partially-full bags into one container.
I like using a garbage can because it holds lots of soil. It’s easy to open the lid and toss in good dirt from outdoor pots as plants die off in the late fall for reuse next spring.
At planting season, I wheel the can from my gardening shed to any location where I need to fill pots. I use a scooper set to easily access the soil at the bottom without having to tip the can.
Pros And Cons
You don’t have to store potting soil. You can always offer it to gardening friends or pour it out around your landscaping plants.
The pros of storing potting soil are:
- Saves money over tossing the soil at season’s end
- Allows you to have fresh soil on hand when you need it
- Deters insects from laying eggs or living in the soil
Related | Reusing Potting Soil
The cons of storing potting soil are:
- Moisture can get into the soil and form mold
- Containers may take up too much storage space
- Bags can rip or bins can spill, making a mess
Knowing how to store potting soil the right way will keep it fresh, pest-free, and convenient for unexpected off-season planting needs. Proper storage also keeps potting mix bags from spilling and making a mess on your floors or shelving.
Storing excess potting soil is a budget-friendly option that isn’t difficult. When you follow the steps above on storing potting soil, it’s easy to keep all your garden supplies neat and tidy!