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How to Plant in Compost Only

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

Fill planters or hanging baskets with compost.

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.

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

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


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Plant containers
  • Seeds/seedlings


  • Plant large vining plants like pumpkin and squash directly in a finished compost pile. Lush vigorous growth will produce large fruits.


  • 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.

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.