What not to put in a greenhouse? Tips for a thriving garden

When it comes to creating the perfect environment for your greenhouse, there are definitely some things to avoid. While it may be tempting to use any old soil or materials you have on hand, there are a few key things to avoid putting in your greenhouse. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using ordinary garden soil in their containers. Here’s why: – Ordinary garden soil compacts easily, which can be detrimental to the health of your plants’ roots over time. As the soil compresses, it can suffocate the roots and prevent water and nutrients from reaching them. – Large containers are especially prone to drying out on top while becoming waterlogged on the bottom. When you use garden soil in these containers, the top layer can dry out quickly, leaving your plants susceptible to dehydration and heat stress. Meanwhile, the bottom of the container is likely to become waterlogged, causing root rot and other issues. – Garden soil may also be more prone to harboring pests and fungi that can wreak havoc on your greenhouse plants. So, what should you use instead of garden soil? There are a variety of specialized greenhouse soils, mixes, and growing media available that are formulated for optimal plant growth in a greenhouse environment. These usually include a combination of ingredients like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and other additives that help to promote healthy root growth, allow for proper drainage, and provide essential nutrients. Ultimately, investing in a quality growing medium will pay dividends in terms of healthier, more bountiful plants in your greenhouse.
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What Not to Put in a Greenhouse? Avoiding Soil Mistakes

As a greenhouse enthusiast, nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing your plants grow and thrive inside your very own mini-ecosystem. That being said, ensuring that your plants are in optimal condition requires careful and knowledgeable attention to details, such as the type of soil you use. In this article, we will discuss what not to put in a greenhouse and how to avoid soil mistakes that could lead to the untimely demise of your prized plants.

Unsuitable Soil for Greenhouses

A common mistake for beginners is to assume that any type of soil will do for their greenhouse plants. This is far from true. Regular garden soil, for instance, may seem like a reasonable choice, but it is an unwise decision. It may contain clay, sand, or other constituents that are not compatible with your greenhouse’s ecosystems. It is important to use a specialized planting mix instead of regular garden soil. This ensures that the soil pH, drainage, and nutrient levels are tailored to your specific plant needs.

The Negative Effects of Compacted Soil

Compacted soil is another major mistake that individuals may accidentally engage in when selecting soil for their greenhouse. Compacted soil fills up the spaces that plants use for air and water circulation, leading to a detrimental impact on root development. Compacted soil can result in:
  • Limited root growth and cells that are unable to replace weaker ones
  • Reduced water absorption
  • Reduced nitrogen availability, which inhibits plant growth

Avoid Fatal Root Damage

When the right soil mix is not used, root damage can be quite severe. Normal garden soil can contain plant pathogens, which are root-killing organisms that can spread very quickly. Root damage from soil pathogens and excess water is a primary reason why plants don’t perform as intended in a greenhouse.
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Avoid fatal root damage by using:
  • A specialized planting mix.
  • Perlite, vermiculite, or sand are great additives that add breathability to the soil mix.
  • Avoid adding pesticides or fertilizers directly to the soil as it’s difficult to measure the amount needed and could result in exacerbating the problem.

The Importance of Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is crucial for healthy plant growth. With the containers in a greenhouse, the upper part of the soil gets dry while the bottom part of the container gets wet and sinks. This is why a solid drainage system is essential. Here are some tips for proper drainage:
  • Always use a pot with a drainage hole.
  • Add a drainage layer to the bottom of your pot or container.
  • Remove any blocking materials once a year to ensure water passes through the pot easily.

Large Containers, Larger Problems

Large containers may seem like a good idea when planting, but they can become a problem very quickly. Large containers can cause soil to become airtight and reduce oxygen levels for the roots of your plants. As a result, the roots of the plants could get choked or smothered, which would ultimately cause them to die. Avoid this problem by:
  • Considering the size of the plant when choosing the size of the container.
  • Leaving a few inches of space between the plant’s roots and the wall of the container so that air can move freely between the roots.
  • Choosing a container with good drainage.

Beware of Soil Drying Out

In a greenhouse, maintaining soil moisture is crucial. Unfortunately, soil may dry out quickly if the greenhouse becomes too hot. Inadequate soil moisture can result in damaged or stunted plants. Here are some tips to prevent your soil from drying out:
  • Add mulch or pebbles on the soil surface to reduce the rate of moisture loss.
  • Don’t water your plants excessively in order to avoid water logging.
  • Use a timer on a hose or drip irrigation system for regular watering sessions.
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Water Logging: The Silent Killer of Greenhouse Plants

Water logging is a common problem for many greenhouse enthusiasts. Poor soil drainage can lead to excess water which is essentially the silencer of your plants. Typically, when plants have too much water, their cells become engorged and cannot exchange nutrients and gases. This may lead to a truncated root system that leads to underperformance. To avoid water logging:
  • Make sure the soil mix you are using is compatible with good drainage.
  • Check and ensure that your water system allows for proper draining.
  • Do not let the pot stand in stagnant water, always empty saucers after watering.


While caring for plants in a greenhouse can be highly rewarding, it also requires attention to details such as choosing soil that is moist, nutrient-rich, and conducive to drainage. From the negative impact of compacted soil to avoiding fatal root damage and water logging, the tips outlined above can help ensure your greenhouse plants thrive and flourish. Remember to treat your greenhouse ecosystem with care, precision, and patience, and you will enjoy years of enjoyment and rewards from a healthy and thriving garden.

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