Is it Safe to Use Fertilized Potting Soil for Vegetables?


Generally, fertilized potting mix and fertilized garden soil sold in stores are safe for raising vegetables unless specified otherwise on the package label. For best results, use home garden products for the purposes specified on the label.

Fertilized Potting Mix

Fertilized potting mix is a lightweight medium formulated for growing potted plants, including vegetables and herbs. It contains ingredients to disperse water, elements to keep the mix from compacting and fertilizer. It is not suitable for adding to garden soil.

Fertilized Garden Soil

Fertilized garden soil is formulated for use on the ground in the herb or vegetable garden. It should be mixed in equal parts with native soil. It contains fertilizer to maintain plants for a specified amount of time as well as compost to enhance the soil

Seed Starting Mix

Seed starting mix is formulated for planting vegetable and herb seeds in containers. Once the plants are established they will be transplanted to a new container or to the garden. There is not enough fertilizer in this mix to maintain a plant for long.

Ingredients of Fertilized Potting Mix

Fertilized potting mix usually contains sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite or perlite and macro nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. It should also contain micro nutrients which are usually present in soil but must be added to potting mix. These ingredients are safe to use with vegetable plants.

Chemical Fertilizer Safety

Advocates at Environment California have expressed concern that commercial fertilizers may contain zinc, lead and arsenic, making them unsafe for raising edible plants. These groups recommend using organic potting mix and garden soils. The University of Florida cautions that fertilizers marked "organic" may refer only to the nitrogen content, not the other materials.


  • Home Depot: Potting Soil
  • Environment California: Toxic Waste in California Home and Farm Fertilizers
  • University of Florida: Fertilizers

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Fertilize Appropriately
Keywords: container vegetables, potted vegetables, vegetable fertilizer, potting mix, potting soil

About this Author

Diana Lea is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with 20 years of technical writing experience. She is a certified Florida master gardener and writes extensively on gardening topics for eHow and COD.

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