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How To Revitalize Houseplant Soil

December 21, 2022 5 min read

houseplant soil

How To Revitalize Houseplant Soil 

Here are Some Things To Help You Revitalize Your Houseplants Soil 


What Are Some Things To Know about Houseplant Soil? 

How often are you replenishing your potting soil? Most potting mixes contain peat-based ingredients, which break down fast and require a top of nutrients to maintain plant health. However, there are different types of houseplant soil for different things. Heavier feeders of plants like tomatoes, cucumber and cabbage will use a lot of the nutrients throughout the year, causing faster nutrient depletion in the soil, this means that eventually, you will have to replace or top it up seeing as the soil levels drop. 

houseplant soil

When it comes to figuring out how to know if it would be wise to rejuvenate old potting soil, there are some questions you should ask yourself such as “What did you grow in it last year?”, “did you have any soil problems?”, “what’s your soil level?”, “what’s the ph of your soil?” and similar questions. Some soil problems can include things like wilting, weak growth, defoliation, white or yellow mold-like growth and many other things whichyou can find here. In order to test the pH of your plant soil you can purchase a home pH meter or test or use kitchen supplies (hand trowel, clean glassware & a liquid measuring cup). 

How Do You Do a PH Soil Test With Kitchen Supplies?

To test your soil pH with kitchen supplies, you will need:

  •  a hand trowel 
  • clean glassware
  •  a liquid measuring cup

. For materials, you will need: 

  •  distilled water
  •  a coffee filter
  •  a pH testing kit
  •  vinegar 
  • baking soda.

An acidic solution generally reacts when it's added to something basic. You can use vinegar ( which is acidic) and baking soda (which is basic) for a do-it-yourself quick pH reading of your soil. The do-it-yourself test will reveal whether the soil is relatively acidic or alkaline. It is recommended for those who have healthy gardens that might benefit from a little more targeted care. It is important to note however that soil testing labs provide more complete/accurate results than the DIY methods, for they provide not just the pH levels but a complete analysis of your soil composition including the percentage of organic matter and major as well as minor nutrients. 

soil

Using your hand trowel, dig four to six inches below the soil surface to obtain a soil sample. Make sure to take samples from various spots to ensure you have an average representation of your soil. Next, you’ll want to clean the soil, aka remove stones, sticks, and other debris from the soil. Be sure to break up any large clumps! Add approximately one cup of soil into a clean glass container, and add enough distilled water to turn the soil into mud. Then, add 1/2 cup of vinegar and stir the mixture. If your oil fizzes, foams, or bubbles, your soil is alkaline. Repeat the process if there is no bubbling. If you have to do it again, instead of adding vinegar however you’d want to add your baking soda. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda and stir, if the soil fizzes, foams, or bubbles, that means your soil is acidic.

soil health
How To Test for pH With Soil Strips? 

If you are looking for an exact measurement, a soil pH testing kit provides more definitive results than that kitchen supplies. You can purchase testing kits at most garden centers. You will want to once again get your hand trowel and dig four to six inches below the soil surface to obtain a soil sample. Then you should place one to three teaspoons of soil in a clean glass, and be sure to remove sticks, stones, and other debris. Following that, fill the glass with distilled water to the same level as the soil sample. You should then agitate the soil, and vigorously stir or swirl the mixture. Then let that solution rest for 30 minutes. Then drain the sample by pouring the soil sample through a coffee filter and into another clean glass. Make sure that you are capturing the solids and allowing the liquid to pass through. Now is when you should get out your ph strip. You’ll want to dip the test strip into the liquid, make sure to pay close attention to the instructions on how long to leave the strip in the liquid. When the strip turns colour, compare the colour to the chart on the manufacturer's packaging to determine the pH. Repeat this process several times with samples from different parts of your garden to determine an average pH.

soil test

If you tested your soil using vinegar and baking soda and neither test produces much of an effect, your soil is probably in the neutral range. No further testing is needed. You can mix soil from several different samples of the soil of a houseplant for the vinegar-baking soda test, however. 


How Do You Revitalize Your Old Potting Soil?

The first thing to do is take the batch of soil you want to revitalize, pour it onto a sheet of tarp and start getting rid of debris and also loosen clumps of soil. Use a hand fork or garden rake to loosen the soil. Then add water to your soil, you’re only adding water to the soil to flush it of excess salts. Using a plastic bucket or bin with holes for drainage, fill it with soil and then saturate it with water. Once the water stops draining through the base, pour the soil back onto the tarp, let it dry in the sun then loosen it up with your rake or hand fork. Then, repeat the watering process, letting the soil drain then dry, then work it loose a second time. Once the soil is cleaned and ready to be mixed, the easiest way to revitalize it is by mixing in the same amount of fresh soil potting mix to what you have already. 

old soil

Make a 50/50 Mix. Using this method, you’re only topping up old soil with new soil. To mix the soil, use a soil sieve to sift in your fresh soil, getting rid of any clumps. Then you should test its pH once your soil is prepared, to make sure it’s in the sweet spot of 6.4 or 0.2 on either side of that. If it’s below 6.2, add in a sprinkling of perlite, gypsum or lime to increase the pH of the soil. Then add in a Slow-Release Fertilizer, you should only need a teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of soil. This should be added in after any perlite or another pH adjuster has been added, then let that cure. The final step is storage. Fill suitable containers (plastic or a cardboard box) with the rejuvenated soil and store it somewhere dark and away from moisture. Leave it for at least two weeks before using it. If done right, you’ll be able to reuse your old potting soil for three years using crop rotation.

Ideally, you should use fresh soil every second or third growing season because, after three cycles of rejuvenating old potting soil, most of the nutrients that plants need will be too depleted to be able to recharge it effectively.  Reading up onhow long a plant can go without soil and the relationship between soil and sunlight can also be helpful going forward with your houseplants! 

potting soil

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