Is Compost Good For Houseplants

As we come to an end with our Fall Compost Back program, we are aware that many of our subscribers may be spending less time getting their vegetable gardens ready for September than they do during our Spring rotation. However, there are still many methods to make the most of your finished compost at this time of year even if you don’t have a garden. Using finished compost in your indoor plants to promote soil health and plant growth is one of our favorite suggestions!

This is a favorite among the Compost Crew because it doesn’t call for a sizable backyard and can be applied to any plant! To make the most of your nutrient-rich black gold with your houseplants, we wanted to share some recommendations with you.

Compost must be used in the proper quantity to ensure that your plant receives the necessary nutrients without causing harm.

When using completed compost, you can either repot the plant in a mixture of 30% finished compost and 70% of your regular soil mixture, or you can apply a few inches of compost on top of the soil.

A house plant may get root burn if its pot contains an excessive amount of finished compost because the surplus phosphorus is held in the soil and overwhelms the plant. Keep a watch out for browning leaves and generally reduced growth to see if this is happening to your plant. Browning roots are another sign of root burn, however that is harder to spot from the surface. Cleaning the nutrient-rich dirt from the plant’s roots and repotting it in a soil mixture with more balanced nutrients are the best ways to care for plants that have experienced root burn.

Apply compost once or twice a year to your indoor plants to get the most advantages from it.

Given that completed compost often has very fine particles, it makes sense to combine it with soils that have larger pieces in order to promote drainage and prevent soil compaction.

Even though houseplants are sometimes overlooked when utilizing finished compost, doing so can be a simple approach to boost your plants’ general health and encourage growth. The long-term health of your indoor plants can benefit from finished compost since it can help them retain nutrients and moisture. We always enjoy seeing pictures of how you’re putting the compost to use, regardless of how you use your completed compost. Keep an eye out for our customer portal’s upcoming opportunity to acquire your soil amendment in the spring.

Which type of compost is ideal for houseplants?

Yes, technically. You can use potting soil or compost that is described as “multipurpose” or “all-purpose” and suited for both indoor and outdoor plants.

It’s important to keep in mind that multipurpose compost frequently has a high level of organic matter. Less air will circulate as it becomes thicker as it decomposes.

Most houseplants prefer well-aerated compost. A mix prepared especially for indoor plants, which will have a lighter texture, will work best for them. As an alternative, you might improve drainage and aeration by adding perlite or vermiculite to a multipurpose compost.

Should you compost your indoor plants?

The usage of compost aids plant growth. It is composed of a range of organic materials, including plant and animal debris (such as grass clippings or manure), to give plants the nutrients they require. Some people do, however, wonder if compost may be utilized for plants in pots or even interior house plants since the majority of compost elements are things found outdoors.

Can indoor plants and containers be grown in compost? Compost can be used for containers and indoor plants, which is the quick answer. Regardless of whether you are growing plants indoors or outdoors, compost is a nutrient-rich component that can work wonders for your plants.

As long as they receive the right amount of sunlight and moisture, compost can work nicely with home plants and containers. No matter if the plants are inside or outside, in soil or in a pot, compost is prepared to enhance plant life.

Can I repot indoor plants using compost?

I repotted my houseplants instead of cleaning my home as I should have been doing for a visitor who would notice if my floor wasn’t spotless. However, I would hate for anyone to notice that my mother-in-tongue law’s is anything but sharp. Life is too short to be judged by your housework.

The majority of houseplants acquire their name not because they really enjoy living in them but rather because they can endure extreme neglect and low light conditions while surviving year after year in the same pot.

You shouldn’t ignore them just because you can, though. Repotting a houseplant gives it more space for its roots to spread out and a new food source, both of which increase the plant’s lifespan.

If your houseplant is really slow-growing or you don’t intend it to grow any larger, you can repot it into its existing pot by only renewing the compost. You will need a new pot, though, if you wish to divide your houseplant or let it grow larger.

Don’t overpot; if you do, the roots of your small plant will end up sitting in a lot of moist, anaerobic dirt. Like sitting in wellington boots that are half full with water, you will eventually develop trench foot. Select a pot that allows you no more than an inch or two of space around the circumference of your current root ball.

Compost for many uses that includes some grit or bark mulch to help with drainage works just as well as the houseplant compost you can buy. It is a fallacy that shattered crocks at the bottom of a pot would increase drainage.

Put down a plastic sheet before repotting indoor plants if necessary. Turn the plant upside down with caution. If it’s overgrown, you might need to give it a good thud; if that doesn’t work, try cutting around the pot’s edge with an old kitchen knife.

Divide or root prune the plant if you wish to keep it in the same pot. You can accomplish this by removing a few inches of the root ball’s outer layer with a sharp knife, then replanting it in fresh compost.

Put a little amount of compost in the bottom of the pot if you are potting up, then drop the plant into the pot, ensuring sure the stem is at the same height as before, and fill up the spaces with fresh compost.

Gently press the compost into place, then immerse the pot in a pail of water to thoroughly soak it. Add a top-dressing of stones, grit, or bark mulch. You are freed of feeding for the remainder of the summer because your new compost is probably going to have food added to it.

Can compost be used for houseplants in pots?

Especially when it comes to gardening, compost is quite important. It is the ideal tool to utilize in order to promote plant growth. Animal waste and plant detritus are some of the naturally occurring components of compost.

The additional nutrients the plants may need to thrive properly are subsequently provided by the compost. Compost is formed from organic matter that is found outdoors, thus some people question if it can genuinely be used indoors.

You will be relieved to learn that compost can be used for indoor house plants and pots. Given that compost includes so many nutrients that are essential for your plants’ growth, doing so is actually advised. It doesn’t matter if it’s inside or outside.

As long as the plants continue to receive the moisture and sunlight they require to thrive, compost is typically a fine option for your indoor houseplants and any pots that you maintain indoors. In the end, compost is there to improve the life of the plant, and this is true of every plant, wherever it is.

Can compost be used in place of potting soil?

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Simply put, compost is a combination of organic materials that you can use to produce plants instead of soil. It is possible to manufacture it by mixing water, manure, hay, straw, and organic items like leaves. Although it initially seems unusual, compost offers numerous advantages over regular soil.

Compost can be used in place of soil to encourage plant development. To cut down on waste, you can combine the two. By giving plants nutrients, it also contributes to improving soil fertility. Compost as soil eliminates the need for artificial pesticides and fertilizers, which studies have shown to be harmful to the environment.

Is potting soil the same as compost?

How often have you visited a nursery with the intention of purchasing something to amend your soil (since that’s what they advise you to do before planting anything) and left feeling even more perplexed than when you entered?

Potting mixes, composts, soil conditioners, mulches, and manures are just a few of the many bags that appear to be available. The labels for mixes and blends include standard, premium, organic, natural, regular, certified, standardized, and so on. How can one tell what is what?

To find out the solution, I recently attended the briefing conference for the publication of the new Australian Standards on Compost AS4454 (2012). (I know, you’re right; I hear you.) I should really get a life. I arrived late due to traffic in Sydney and was surprised to see a room full of males wearing ties and collars. There were also very few women present, so my Veggie Lady polo shirt felt a little out of place. Who would have imagined composters wearing such fancy attire? Later, I discovered that the majority of them were managers or lab testers. However, as a composter and backyard grower, my curiosity was not quenched.

Compost vs Potting Mix

Early on, it was crucial to distinguish between a growing medium and a compost. Plant growth is the purpose of potting soil. Compost is designed to be incorporated into the soil, not utilized as a growing medium on its own. As a result, a compost will differ from a plant growth mix in terms of mineral balance and moisture holding capacity. Therefore, if you’re a home gardener, be sure to always combine bagged compost with other soil in the yard or with other potting mixes and materials when using it in container gardens because it can be too strong for your plants and actually hurt their growth.

The strict requirements for copper and zinc levels were actually loosened by the new standards because compost is intended to be integrated into background soil rather than being used alone as a growing medium. Unfortunately, we will continue to have high amounts of copper residues as long as we have copper water pipes. Under the revised criterion, higher concentrations of zinc and copper were considered acceptable when they were balanced off with other components or soil.


The particle size is the only criteria used to classify mulches, composts, and soil conditioners. Coarse, fine, or soil conditioner are the three definitions listed in decreasing order of size.

Therefore, a wide definition of mulch is coarse debris that make it easy for rainwater and irrigation water to filter through. Their carbon:nitrogen ratio will be higher and they are primarily woody in nature (you may now find that the C:N ratio figure is listed on the label of the bag). Mulches will take longer to decompose because they are designed to sit on top of the soil rather than be incorporated.

Fine ingredients make up composts, which are intended to be incorporated into the soil. It will have more readily available nitrogen to feed your plants because the carbon:nitrogen ratio will be lower.

Even smaller particles exist in a soil conditioner, which may provide your plants with more nourishment. It should be buried in the ground because it decomposes most quickly. More moisture will be retained in the soil as a result.


Composts are further categorized according to their maturity. This informs you of the level of decomposition and whether the compost is still “hot” or totally rotted and prepared for use in any circumstance. By measuring the mixture’s heat, it establishes the level of biological activity there. The options include unpasteurized, composted, mature, or raw.

A single source of plant material (i.e., just one type of tree that has been chopped into sizeable pieces suitable for use as mulch) and the absence of any recognized pathogens are indicators of raw mulch. Composting has not occurred.

Utilizing composted materials may cause further decomposition even when they are still biologically active. It is described as being prepared for some commercial landscaping applications where established plants can resist additional material deterioration. A mature mix is required for some delicate or young plants.


It’s crucial to comprehend the necessity of pasteurization in the manufacture of compost for commercial use. Commercial operations rely on the collection of “resource from waste disposal systems, unlike the home compost, which can use fresh kitchen scraps and possibly free range home fowl manure. Before being collected, food leftovers can putrefy for days, and animal feces can contain diseases that are dangerous to people. Collection frequently takes place in highly unhygienic settings. Kerbside green waste plant debris may also carry pathogens that are fatal to plant life, such as phytophthora or myrtle rust, which have the ability to obliterate entire stands of native flora.

The process of pasteurization involves heating the materials to destroy any bacteria that could be hazardous to human health. The sad problem is that it kills both healthy and dangerous bacteria without discrimination. Compost in a home garden typically won’t reach the pasteurization temperature of 55 °C, preserving the beneficial microorganisms. The drawback of home composting is that not all dangerous diseases, weed seeds, or plant propagules will be eliminated.

A compost heap needs to attain a temperature of at least 55 °C for three days in order to pasteurize it effectively. This temperature is typically only attained with long windrows that are approximately 4.5 meters wide and 2 or 3 meters high. The heat given out makes it hot enough to make you want to remove your hand. While the outer 300mm layer surrounding the heap will remain colder, the pile’s center will heat up. Turning the heap is necessary for this reason. To ensure that all materials are pasteurized adequately, the exterior material is to be turned into the center of the heap. To guarantee that all of the material is pasteurized, commercial composters are obliged to turn the heap five times while maintaining temperatures over 55 °C for at least 15 days. By turning the heap to re-oxygenate it, you can feed more biological activity, which in turn produces heat as a byproduct. For the end user’s health and safety, pasteurization is crucial.

Labeling of chemical contaminants

If the producers want to disclose the outcomes of the new testing criteria for pollutants, the labeling guidelines increase the amount of information that is made available to us as consumers. When you first see the quantities of mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals stated on your bag of compost, you might be horrified. Don’t let this deter you; it’s a positive thing. Today, producers of organic composts are required to test for them under the strictest conditions possible. Due to the greater expenses associated with these tests, many compost companies have skipped them, allowing composts with heavier metal concentrations than are presently allowed to pass inspection. You can be sure that heavy metals are under acceptable levels if test results meet requirements.

Some composts may contain other chemical components at concentrations that induce phytotoxicity (i.e. dangerous levels of nutrients that can cause plant death but no significant effect to human health). Standards compliance provides protection from such phytotoxicity.

Pesticide residue is also evaluated in addition to heavy metals. Compost that complies with Australian Standard AS4454 (2012) is guaranteed to contain minimal or no residues. Although first upsetting for the user, test reading listings actually give the producer’s assurance of transparency. This is preferable to the compost bag that hides the results of these new tests due to noncompliance with the norm that protects your health and safety.

Other listings on the label

You could anticipate seeing the pH level displayed on the label in accordance with the new regulations. By knowing your compost’s acidity or alkalinity, you may decide whether to apply it on plants that prefer acidity, such azaleas and camellias (who need a pH around 4).

You can make a decision knowing that it will benefit the environment by increasing carbon sequestration if organic carbon levels are also given.

Take home messages:

Never use compost or soil conditioners as a potting mix; always combine them with soil.

To demonstrate safety compliance, it is preferable to include chemical residues and heavy metal levels on the label rather than keeping them hidden from the consumer.

Turn your mix to rotate the components from the outside to the inside when composting at home.

There is a danger of pathogen reinfestation if your home compost is allowed to dry out before completing the breakdown process.