How To Store Potting Soil Over Winter

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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You can store potting soil over winter using a clean plastic tub with a tight lid. First, sanitize the container using bleach to ensure there are no pests or mold. Then, give it time to dry and set sealed bags of soil in the container. Lastly, store it with the lid on. 

When you store potting soil for a long time, you must sanitize the container and seal the dirt well.

Storing potting soil over winter tips
Storing potting soil over winter

Otherwise, a variety of organisms could move in. This article covers the storage process in detail, so let’s begin. 

How Do I Store Potting Soil Over Winter? 

The best way to store potting soil for months is:

  • To use a large plastic bin. You can pick these bins up cheap from many shops, so they’re widely available. You want to ensure you get a large enough container to hold all your potting soil, and a lid should come with it. 
  • Then, you need to seal your potting soil in bags. These could be the bags that the dirt came in or ones that you got from somewhere else. Check each bag for insects and debris, then remove anything you find. Finally, you need to ensure the soil is dry so mold doesn’t grow while it’s in storage. 
  • Next, you can combine loose soil into the same bags to condense how many you have. Seal all of your soil bags with tape. If you have a lot of loose soil, pouring all of them into the container might be more worthwhile. 
  • Lastly, you’ll need to sanitize the tub before you can store your soil in it. Doing so ensures that harmful bacteria, pests, and mold don’t take over your soil while you wait for springtime. It’s an essential step that you shouldn’t skip! 
potting soil winter time
How to safely store potting soil over winter

How Do I Sanitize a Storage Tub? 

Luckily, it’s pretty simple to sanitize your storage bins.

Before you start, it’s good to ensure you have the right one. A plastic storage tub with a lid that clasps all the way around is best for storing soil because it provides an airtight seal.

You can usually find large 30-gallon bins like this for under $15 or so. 

Once you have the perfect storage bin, it’s time to sanitize it.

Start by soaking the tub in a bleach solution of nine parts water and one part bleach for 10 minutes.

You must ensure you get the tub’s sides and the lid in the solution for the best results. 

After Soaking – Pour out the solution and let the tub air dry for a few hours, then dry off any lingering moisture with a rag. Water causes mold growth, so look for any droplets carefully! 

At this stage, the container is wholly sanitized and ready to use. Just add your bags of potting soil to them and seal them inside with the lid.  

Where Do I Store My Potting Soil? 

Once you have your potting soil in your sanitized container, you’ll need to know where to keep it.

You need to put it somewhere very dry yet out of the way.

Many gardeners prefer to keep their potting soil in sheds, garages, or even the basement. However, wherever you keep your gardening tools will work best for most people. 

You must put the potting soil where it won’t get wet. Moisture can lead to mold growth and quickly ruin the soil, so it’s good to think carefully about where to store it.

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No Matter What – You shouldn’t leave these bins outside where they can get rained on. Keeping your potting soil somewhere dry also ensures that it doesn’t freeze. That way, you won’t have to wait for it to thaw before using it. 

Overall, you can store your potting soil bins in plenty of places.

They can get very heavy, especially if you fill them completely, so take care when moving them.

A single gallon of potting soil can weigh 12 pounds, so if you fill a 30-gallon tub, it will weigh quite a lot. 

Can I Leave Potting Soil Outside in Winter? 

While you can always leave your potting soil outside in the winter, keeping it indoors in an airtight bin is safer.

The cold weather won’t ruin the soil, but the snow and ice will eventually wear out the bag. Rips can cause the soil to spill out onto the ground. 

Plus, openings in the bags can also let in water and bugs, significantly reducing the quality of your soil. For these reasons, many gardeners prefer keeping their soil out of the winter elements. 

Potting soil winter tips
The cold weather won’t ruin the soil

If you want to keep your soil clean and dry for the next season, store it in a plastic bun. You can use any plastic container with a lid, however.

Another great option would be five-gallon buckets with lids or even garbage cans. If you sanitize it first, anything you have at home can work. 

In Short – While you can leave your soil outside in the winter, it’s usually not a good idea unless you have highly mild winters in your area. Storing the soil inside can ensure it’s perfect for use months later, so most people find it more worthwhile and less risky. 

How Long Does Soil Stay Good? 

Soil can stay good for around six months, depending on the conditions that it’s in.

Unopened bags have a strong seal and can last more than a year in storage.

However, you can still get your soil to stay fresh for several months after opening it if you store it in a sanitized and sealed bin. 

Mixing manure with potting soil explained

You can quickly tell if your potting soil went bad because it will show these common signs: 

  • Heavily compacted 
  • Strange or rotting smells 
  • Insects 
  • Mold or mildew 

It’s not good to use potting soil that’s old and showing these signs.

If you do, it could cause a lot of harm to your plants, and nothing will grow in the soil. 

Overall, it’s best to closely inspect any potting soil you stored months ago before using it.

While this storage bin method works exceptionally well, it’s always better to be safe than sorry— especially if the potting soil was already old when you stored it. 

How Long Can I Store Potting Soil? 

You can easily store your potting soil for three months or more over the winter.

Most soil should stay good in a plastic tub for about six to 12 months, so you can expect it to last through the season without issue. 

If you plan on storing your soil for longer than six months, some nutrients in the soil will be lost.

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You’ll want to make sure you add some fertilizer to restore the nutritional content for your plants before offering it to them. 

However, that might not be necessary if you only store the potting soil for a few months over the winter.

Performing a soil test before using stored soil will let you know what amount of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus are in the dirt. From there, you can add more nutrients as needed. 

So, you can store your potting soil easily over the winter because it’s possible to get it to stay good for six months to a year while in storage.

Conclusion

The best way to store potting soil for months is to use a large plastic bin.

You can pick these bins up cheap from many shops, so they’re widely available.

You want to ensure you get a large enough container to hold all your potting soil, and a lid should come with it.

You need to put it somewhere very dry yet out of the way. Many gardeners prefer to keep their potting soil in sheds, garages, or even the basement.

However, wherever you keep your gardening tools will work best for most people.