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Peat vs Peat Free - Choose the right Potting Compost

5 Minute Read
Potting composts are designed to be the best growing medium for plants. Peat has been used as a component because of its ability to retain water and nutrients. Nowadays, with more awareness around peat-bog depletion, and peat as a limited resource, many gardeners prefer to use peat-free composts.
Peat-free composts are great for water retention but, for plants that require good drainage, adding a bit of grit and sharp sand to the mix will help support growth.

Most peat-free composts are carefully blended to provide optimum growing conditions and the quality and reliability continue to improve. Where necessary, a liquid feed can be used in conjunction with peat-free compost to boost nutrient levels.

If a potting compost is not labelled peat-free, it most likely contains some peat. Peat-free composts tend to be more expensive because they require more processing.

When choosing peat-free potting compost, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be prepared to alter your watering and feeding patterns if you previously used peat-based products.

If you are concerned about peat use in your garden, you can also support reduction by buying only potted plants which have been grown in peat-free compost.

Peat factoids
“Peatlands contain one of the world's most important carbon stores - when they're drained the carbon is released back into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming.”

“Peatlands are important water stores, holding about 10 per cent of global freshwater; peat takes so long to form - it grows by about 1mm per year - that it cannot be regarded as a sustainable material. Commercial extractors typically remove up to 22cm of peat per year.”

“38 per cent of the peat used in the UK comes from within the UK, 56 per cent from the Republic of Ireland, 6 per cent from Northern Europe.”

“In 2008, the Growing Media Initiative scheme was launched, managed by the Horticultural Trades Association in conjunction with the Growing Media Association, DIY and Garden Centre retailers, Defra, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Horticultural Society. It aims to increase awareness of the plight of the world's peatlands and the need to use more sustainable materials in gardens, and in so doing, develop a practical way forward to achieve peat-replacement in the UK.”   

“Amateur gardeners use 66 per cent of the total peat consumed in the UK, most of it in growing media such as multi-purpose compost and growing bags.”
(*source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/today_in_your_garden/ethical_peat.shtml)

Shop peat-free compost

We stock a wide variety of peat-free composts from trusted brands to suit all gardening jobs, from planting seeds to potting on.

Take a look at our range of peat-free composts and make the switch today!


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Comments (6)

Chris McGrath24/02/21
I used New Horizon last year and the tomato plants withered and died. I resowed with Growise with excellent results. What seed compost do readers prefer?

The Garden Superstore02/03/21
Hi Chris, thanks for your comment, we've got a great guide to some of our seed composts here: www.thegardensuperstore.co.uk/advice-and-inspiration/our-guide-to-seed-sowing-compost - it depends on the preference of the growers but we have heard a lot of good feedback from the Melcourt Sylvamix Seed & Cutting Compost which is also Peat-free!

Let us know if you have any further questions at all and happy gardening!

^ The Garden Superstore

David Leadbetter29/06/21
I grow Japanese maples in containers. I want to know the best compost for growing them on into ever larger containers successfully.

The Garden Superstore02/07/21
Hi David,

Thanks for getting in touch, it looks like Japanese maples prefer slightly acidic soil, so an ericaceous compost is one option or a loam-based compost such as a John Innes No.2 or 3. Don't forget to mulch regularly to help with moisture retention, too.

If you have any further questions, please let us know!

Happy gardening ^ The Garden Superstore

Frank Wood. 25/07/21
I am finding that no peat compost dries out too quickly when I water my flowers in containers and pots. I water very early in the morning. Sometimes watering in banned in my area when there is a heat wave, so what can I mix safely with my non peated compost to retain dampness?

The Garden Superstore26/07/21
Hi Frank,

Thanks for getting in touch, we recommend you add some vermiculite to your compost, not only will this mean you can water less, but it also helps with aeration.

The Sinclair Horticultural Grade Vermiculite - 100 Litre Bag is great and goes a long way - https://www.thegardensuperstore.co.uk/plant-and-lawn-care/compost/compost-additives/sinclair-horticultural-grade-vermiculite-100-litre-bag

We hope this helps, please feel free to get in touch if you have any other questions at all!

Happy gardening!

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