How to Plant in Compost Only


Making compost from leaves, twigs, garden debris and kitchen scraps creates loose friable soil that provides no clues to the original contents. This rich organic matter improves aeration and adds vital nutrients to the soil. Although it is traditionally worked into the existing soil to improve its texture and to support plant growth, compost that has broken down completely to dark crumbly earth can be used successfully in containers or baskets in the place of traditional mixes.

Step 1

Remove any twigs, or large pieces of organic matter from the compost. Many prefer to screen compost with wire screens to remove debris that has not properly broken down in the composting process.

Step 2

Fill planters or hanging baskets with compost.

Step 3

Plant seeds or transplant seedlings directly into the compost following the recommended seed depth and spacing for the specific plant. Firm down with your hands to secure seedlings or remove air pockets around seeds.

Step 4

Water until water runs free through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Step 5

Place in the recommended lighting for the plants you have chosen to grow. Water when soil is dry to the touch.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid fertilizing plants planted directly in compost, as well decomposed compost provides the nutrients plants need to grow. Do not use compost that has not broken done completely for planting. Finished compost smells and looks like fresh earth.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Plant containers
  • Seeds/seedlings


  • North Carolina State University: Composting for Home Gardens
  • Ohio State University: Composting at Home
  • University of Illinois Extension: The composting Process

Who Can Help

  • New Mexico State University: Backyard Composting
  • Cornell Waste Management Institute: Composting Fact Sheets
Keywords: plant in compost, finished compost, compost pile

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.