Reusing Soil With Roots

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Last Updated on August 28, 2022

Some gardeners often wonder if reusing soil with roots is ideal. Plants may die off at the end of their growing season or they may die from inadequate care.

Discarding off an old soil with its root may be the ideal thing to do. But is there any chance that the old soil to still be viable for reuse?

Well, the answer will majorly depend on the type of garden you’re using. These types of gardens may be open gardens, raised bed gardens, or potted plants.

In this post, we will be discussing if it is proper for you to dispose of the soil any dead plant must have used, or if reusing the soil with roots is possible. So, let’s begin.

Is Reusing Your Old Soil With Roots Ideal?

It is certainly possible reusing your old soil that still has roots in them for your new plants. However, this will depend on some things. Like we mentioned, reusing your old soil with roots will mainly depend on if you’re using an open garden, a raised bed garden, or a potted pot.

Is Reusing Your Old Soil With Roots Ideal
  • Reusing Raised Bed and Open Garden Soil – When it comes to reusing old soil with roots in them, you can still leave the old roots in the soil. However, make sure the old plant did not die from diseases. But to be on good standing, try to look for spots that have vacant space in your open garden or raised bed. This is so the old roots will not be an issue for the new root system when they begin to emerge.
  • Potting Soil – Regarding reusing old soil with roots in potting soil, this is usually not an ideal thing to do. The best thing to do is to remove the old roots from the potting soil in your plant pot. This is done so the old roots don’t hinder the growth of the new plants. We don’t want to have issues with limited space so the new plant can have adequate space to grow its roots.

Can I Reuse Soil From A Dead Plant?

Questions such as can you reuse soil from a dead plant may come to different gardener’s minds. Or can you use old soil for new plants? The answer is pretty simple. It is very possible for you to reuse your old potting soil rather than toss it at the end of the season.

Plants dying or coming to an end is always a sad thing to experience as a gardener. When you must have carefully nurtured the plant, sometimes for a long time, then they just die all of a sudden. There are so many reasons why a plant may die off. But what tangible thing can you do with it especially if you do not wish to discard everything?

When it comes to the potting soil mix, it is possible to salvage the dead plant potting soil rather than you buying new potting soil. However, this old soil from the dead plant may contain some bacteria, fungi spores, and unwanted insects. Now we don’t want all these infecting our new plant. The good thing is that you can sterilize the soil in an oven to destroy these bacteria and fungi spores. Then you can have your soil almost as good as new.

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer

You can as well make use of the old potting mix that way after salvaging it. All you need do is to mix it with new potting soil or compost to restore its organic content and this creates a better growing medium.

However, make sure you avoid reusing old soil from plants that died from diseases. Even if you sterilize the soil that died from diseases, viral organisms may still survive and infect the new plant you plan on growing the soil with.

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Soil Sterilization

We have established that it is ideal and advisable you sterilize your old soil especially when they are from dead plants. Generally, soil can harbor pests, diseases, and weed seeds. Hence, sterilizing your soil before planting is a good thing.

So far you didn’t notice any pests or diseases in your former plant, you can go ahead to reuse the soil. Just ensure you sterilize the soil so bacteria, fungi spores, insects, and weed seeds don’t come showing up after reusing the soil.

So, below are ways you can sterilize your old soil so you can safely use them for your new soil.

How To Sterilize Soil

  1. Oven Sterilization

Put the soil to be sterilized in an oven-safe container covered with foil. Then bake at 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool down and leave the foil in place until you’re ready to use the soil.

  1. Microwave Sterilization

Put 2 pounds of damp soil in a polypropylene bag. Then put it inside your microwave and leave the top open for ventilation. The soil should be heated for 2 to 2 and half minutes on full power. Then close the bag and let it cool before you remove it.

  1. Steam Sterilization

You can steam your old soil for at least 30 minutes until the temperature is 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Learn How To Store Used Potting Soil Over Winter

Once temperature drops and your plant begins to fade, that’s a sign to empty your potted container and put them away for the winter.

You may then wish to store and reuse your old potted plants. It may be even more tempting going for this option especially when you have lots of potted plants and purchasing new soil may be quite pricey.

It’s possible to store your potting soil at the end of the season and ensure they maintain their quality over winter and be safe to reuse.

So, to store your used soil over winter, do the following:

  • We recommend you sterilize your used soil first before storing it.
  • Then get a plastic storage tub and soak in water and bleach. This is to sterilize it to prevent bad organisms from harboring and infesting the soil. Wipe the container and allow it to dry.
  • The soil should then be poured directly into the storage tub and seal it tightly with its lid.
  • Then store the tub in a very dry spot.
Learn How To Store Used Potting Soil Over Winter


What can I do with old soil roots?

If you have a nice, healthy soil, you should be able to use the roots to build compost or mulch. If you don't have a nice, healthy soil, it will take a lot of work to get it back on track, and you will need to purchase organic soil if you want to keep your plants growing well.

You can add it to the garden. The most important thing is that you don't get it on your plants. I would recommend not using them at all. They are likely to be full of bacteria and other organisms that can make you sick.

If you want to use the soil for bricks, you can leave the roots in the soil.

How do you get compacted soil out of roots?

There are several methods for removing roots from the soil. The first one is to cut them off using a sharp knife.

If you do this, be careful not to injure the plant because it will send out new roots to replace the lost one. Another method is to use a small shovel or trowel and scrape away the roots with the tool. Another way to get rid of the roots is to cover the soil with sand and then water the plants until the sand becomes soft. After that, just lift the plant out of the sand and pull off the roots. If you have a large root mass, you can try to break it up by placing the root mass in a tub filled with water and rocks. This will help loosen the soil so you can remove it. When removing a root mass, be sure to leave at least two inches of healthy top growth. If you are removing a root mass from a tree, be careful not to injure the tree or it will die.

Shoul you sterilize soil?

We have been told that sterilizing soil is the key to growing healthy plants. Some people even go so far as to say that we should never add manure to our gardens because it will contaminate the soil and cause disease. My experience is that this is not true at all. In fact, I am not sure that it is possible to sterilize soil, and if you do try, you may end up doing more harm than good.

Can you use the soil from dead plants?

I don't know about compost, but I can tell you that the answer is yes for growing plants. Plants need nutrients, and if you kill them and bury them in the ground they will take up the nutrients in the soil. You can take that soil and put it in your garden, though you might have to amend it a bit. I would suggest adding some compost to the soil when you're ready to plant.

Conclusion On Reusing Soil With Roots

So, we have seen that it is possible to reuse old soil with roots in them. Just ensure the old plant did not harbor any pests and diseases.

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