In order to keep our home feeling clean..
..we should avoid a musty odor coming from our houseplants’ soil.
There is always a problem where people face foul odor in potting soil.
But what causes foul odor in potting soil, and how can we get rid of it?
Hear it from Lana!
I once encountered a smelling potting soil…
It was in a nursery in my hometown..
At first I thought that it was just how the plant smells like..
But the smell got worse, the longer I was there..
So I asked the gardener there and she hurried right away..
She took the plant where the smell is coming from..
..and try to revitalize the plant.
She told me she was sorry for the inconvenience..
.. but I still wondered ’til this day..
..what was the cause of all those bad odor?
Let’s find out!
An unappealing odor in potting soil is caused by poor drainage, insufficient aeration, and overwatering.
It is also possible for inadequately decomposed organic matter to produce an unsavory odor in potting mix.
Let the soil dry out, then blend a third cup of charcoal into four quarts of potting mix to neutralize the odor.
The purpose of this guide is to explore the reasons for the bad potting soil odor and the ways we can prevent it.
Overwatering is a common reason for potting soil odor.
However, is that the only problem?
What Does Bad Soil Smell Like?
Having fresh soil in your hands is pleasant, and it carries an earthy odor.
That odor of soil you get after a rainstorm..
..isn’t that one we always need?
Normally, rotting soil emits a strong odor, similar to that of rotten eggs..
..and smells as if it has traces of ammonia and sulfur.
There is a bad odor to the soil even when there is no oxygen present and when the soil is overwatered.
Bad drainage causes numerous problems for plants.
Why Does My Potting Soil Stink?
The potting mix does come with an expiry date. It is not the soil that goes bad..
..but the potting mix ingredients, such as peat moss..
..have a short shelf life of one to two years.
A change of potting mix should be considered after this time to avoid the unpleasant potting soil smell.
What Happens When The Potting Soil Goes Bad?
Once the soil completely utilizes the peat moss..
..its salt content increases..
..thereby reducing the soil’s ability to drain.
A reduced drainage system will cause the soil to clog..
..resulting in the plant being overwatered.
In addition, a reduced water supply also means that the supply of oxygen is reduced.
Whenever the soil is too wet, the plant is susceptible to root rot..
..and lots of fungal and bacterial infections can develop.
If left untreated, root rot can destroy the plant.
Sometimes we find mold growing in the soil of the pot.
This indicates that the water was not thoroughly drained from the pot.
To avoid root rot caused by overwatering..
..you should let the soil completely dry out before watering the plants thoroughly.
In addition to preventing mold from growing in the soil..
..this also ensures the potting soil won’t stink.
Can I Still Use A Bad-Smelling Potting Soil?
Among the most important factors for plant growth is the soil..
..which provides nutrients and moisture.
There are a lot of microbial activities in the potting soil..
..as well as fertilizers and nutrients we apply to the plants.
A typical bag of this potting soil is good for about a year and a half.
But what happens with the unused soil?
Following these simple steps enables us to reuse unused and old potting soil:
- Plant material like weeds or roots should be removed from the soil.
- Break up larger clots of soil by spreading it on a table.
- After the soil has been filtered, it should be sprayed with water on the topmost layer.
- Sunlight should be used to dry the soil for a week.
- In order to avoid weed invasion and rain, it is suggested to use a plastic sheet after two days.
Checking The Soil
We must check our soil after a few days to determine its suitability for planting.
To do this, we use a simple hack.
You can create a soil ball by taking a handful of soil and gently tapping it.
The soil will be ready for revitalization when the ball falls apart.
A few dent marks or a ball that retains its shape may suggest that the soil needs to be dried out more.
It is possible to test the pH of the soil by using a pH meter to determine whether it is acidic or alkaline.
Adding Some Nutrients To The Soil
Next, we need to add the required nutrients to the soil after drying out the soil and checking its nature.
The soil should be amended with compost in a 1:1 ratio or at least 35%..
..along with 10% neem cake powder in order to combat pathogens.
The coco peat, perlite, and pumice are the ingredients that we need to make a universal potting soil..
..so they can be added together.
It is important to mix everything well..
..so that our plants receive the right proportions of everything present in the potting soil..
..when they are ready for use.
Unless we intend to use the potting soil right away..
..we should store it in a cool, dry place away from dampness.
Make sure the humidity is also low in that area.
Now that we have a ready supply of unused soil, we can start using it right away.
How Do You Know When Soil Is Bad?
In some cases, determining what type of soil we use is difficult and can be dangerous for the plants.
It might be easy for a plant to develop root rot if it is overwatered.
If not, it is susceptible to pests.
In order for plants to grow and provide all the necessary nutrients..
..we always want to ensure our soil is healthy.
If the soil is poor or not functioning for plants, we can determine this in several ways.
Let us examine a few of them:
Check this out:
Amount of Nitrogen
Nitrogen is one of the most important chemicals that plants need to grow..
..and the amount matters a lot.
Neither excess nitrogen nor a deficiency of nitrogen are good for the plant.
If you fertilize the plant with too much nitrogen..
..the plant will wilt even though its foliage will be lush.
Additionally, if your soil lacks nitrogen, we may see leaves that are discolored and shed.
We can address this problem by adding compost.
Moss on the Soil
It is common to see moss on the top layer of soil.
If the plants don’t receive direct sunlight, we can see moss growth.
Moss indicates that there is high acidity in the soil.
Lime can be added to reduce the acidity.
Wood ash is also suggested.
There are many reasons for soil going bad.
Overwatering is the most common reason.
If the soil is not aerated and the water stands still..
..then there is a chance of the soil going bad.
It is important to check the soil before watering.
If it is still mushy, we should not water the plant.
We should first let the soil dry, and then water the plant.
In order to determine if the roots are healthy, we must inspect them.
This will ensure the plant is safe.
The roots of the plant should be the same color.
Pull out a strand and compare.
What’s the bottom line?
A white and crusty color means that the roots are perfectly healthy.
However, a dark black or brown color means that there are problems with the soil.
How Do I Stop My Potting Mix From Smelling?
When it comes to the soil, the plant needs some attention.
It is important to address the issue of how to stop the potting mix from smelling..
..before we tackle the question of how to stop it.
In order to prevent plants from becoming overwatered..
..it is important to check the soil before reaching for the watering can.
When watering, it is important to test the soil by feeling it.
If it looks dry, water the plants thoroughly before allowing the soil to dry out.
The soil can become too moist and sticky if the plant is overwatered..
..which might lead to a root rot situation, along with various insects and diseases.
There is also the drainage issue.
Maybe we have an ideal watering regime, and we are fully watering the plant.
This could be due to the soil being too dense, or the pot not having a sound drainage system.
A hole at the bottom of the container is critical. It allows water in the soil to drain freely so adequate air is available for the roots. While various kinds of plants have differing drainage needs, few can tolerate sitting in stagnate water. Healthy roots mean healthier plants. So be sure there are holes for drainage.University of Illinois Extension
It could also be due to poorly aerated soil or a dense pot.
If the pot does not have a sound drainage system..
..then make sure it will not become overwatered.
In addition, if you have poorly draining soil..
..you may need to add some pumice to the soil to increase its aeration.
The soil could be poor and your plant would benefit from repotting in a new pot with better drainage..
..as well as a good potting mix.
Here’s what you need to know on how to prevent potting mix from smelling.
If we notice any mold or fungus growing on the soil..
..or if there is a musty odor coming from the soil, we might have to repot the plant in fresh soil.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to change this situation..
..and we don’t want our plants to grow in bad soil.
While repotting, there are certain considerations.
Always examine the roots before repotting.
If the roots are not hard and crusty, but black, then the roots may have rot.
It might be better to repot the plant if there is a large amount of root system left on it..
..as the plant might not thrive in a new pot.
I would rather take a shot at it than neglect it.
Last but not least,
..adding activated charcoal (one-third of cup) to four quarts of fertilized soil..
..along with a well-drainage system, minimizes the odor of indoor plants.
How To Prevent Bad Odor In The Soil?
Here, we will give you some information about how to prevent bad odor in your garden..
..by adding different substances to the soil.
After we followed the ideal watering conditions and checked the drainage..
..we were able to get rid of almost 80% of the issues.
You can prevent bad soil odor by using the following chemicals and compounds:
Adding compost, sand, and peat to the soil will improve the soil’s aeration and drainability..
..which will allow for more oxygen to get into the soil and reduce the foul odor.
Sour-smelling soil indicates a deficiency in essential nutrients.
Calcium and lime are often applied to change the pH level in the soil.
Mixing activated charcoal along with well-fertilized soil..
..will increase oxygen availability as well as drainage in the potting soil and reduce the bad-smelling soil.
To sum it up…
You should be aware of your plant’s potting soil at all times..
If you happen to smell bad odor coming out of the potting soil..
..it’s probably time for you to examine what’s wrong with it.
It may be cause by root rot or rotten potting mix material..
Nonetheless, you can still save it if you hurry..
..or reuse them with some steps to take for revitalization.
Let us know how helpful this article have been for you..
..by sharing your experience with us in the comment section below.
You can also contact us if you still have further queries..
Have an awesome gardening journey!