Missouri Potting Soil Fire

Linda Bittle
Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

This was not something I had ever worried about until I read this article last night. One of the bags of potting soil I got from Walmart last year did have a lot of wood chips in it. And I know compost piles heat up, but it never occurred to me that my flowerpots might spontaneously combust!

Fair Grove Fire Protection District warning about potting soil fires (ky3.com)


  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is truly a scary thing! I guess it is a good idea not to put the potted plants against the house or any structure.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    Well, nobody wants to torch their plants or worse.

    It would be really bad if it was indoors. I just reported some of my larger trees into huge pots. It's amazing the sticks you find in the bagged soil sometimes. I've thankfully never found wood chips!

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,370 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That seems odd to me. I know compost heats up but who has that much compost in a potted plant. Maybe something other than dirt was in the bag of soil. Hmmm

    I did find a very thick chain probably 2 feet long in a bag of soil one time.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow, I know silage sometimes spontaneously burns.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Someone suggested that there might have been a lot of green manure in the pot, too.

    Just one more thing to be concerned about.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The article did say that it happens when it gets too dry. I guess it isn't likely if we keep them well watered which is important anyway.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 937 ✭✭✭✭

    How often is the compost pile turned?

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It was in a pot with flowers already planted. I'm surprised such a small amount could generate enough heat to burn.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭

    @Linda Bittle was there another compound? or did someone help it? Seems strange.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I only know what was in the news story. Haven't seen any updates on it.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    A few years ago I purchased a loader full of potting soil and filled a new metal trough I turned into a garden bed. I planted some stuff in there and it all died, even though it was watered. I couldn’t figure it out until I decided to put my composting thermometer in it to check the soil temps. I was over 100* in that tank! Needless to say I did not plant anything back in there until after the temperature dropped back down into the 80’s. I was guessing mixing it all back up when it was dumped into my truck, then transferred to the wheel barrel, then into the grow bed & watered it started the composting process again. Thinking something similar in your store @Linda Bittle

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We don't think of "soil" as something that can burn, but in the Adirondacks of New York, much of the soil is a layer of humus that can burn very easily. There are strong recommendations not to build a fire outside of a fire pit in that region, because you can easily start a widespread fire without meaning to.

    Soil is organic material, and organic material can burn!