Peat Substitutes: 11 Alternatives To Peat In The Ground

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Almost all garden soils contain peat. We show what environmentally friendly alternatives there are to replace peat and give tips on peat-free gardening.


Peat replacement is an important issue in climate protection. We explain what properties peat has made so successful in substrates and point out good alternatives. If you are still wondering “What is peat?” You will find out in our special article on the subject.

Why is peat in the garden soil?

Peat is a good base for garden potting. This is because it stores water well without the roots suffering from a lack of air and thus starting to rot. In addition, its pH value and nutrient content can be flexibly adjusted, depending on which plant is to be cultivated. Last but not least, it is nice and light when dry, so easy to transport.
Unfortunately, however, peat also has disadvantages: peat is a finite resource and its extraction and use release CO2, which should actually be better stored in the soil. The further breakdown of peat prevents former moors from being rewetted and from being able to resume their work as CO2 storage.
Because of its advantages and disadvantages, both professionals and hobby gardeners should rely on peat substitutes as much as possible.

Tip: You can also save CO2 with our Plantura organic soil. In our shop we offer peat-free and peat-reduced garden soils in organic quality, which protect the natural peat stocks.

Peat substitutes: 11 alternatives to peat in the ground

Peat is widely used in horticulture but is now gradually being replaced by alternatives [Photo: DedMityay /]

Alternatives to peat

Environmental protection is important to every garden fanatic. But of course our green thumb shouldn’t have to suffer as a result. Alternatives to peat soil are mixtures of different materials that make gardening possible without peat. We would like to introduce you to common peat substitutes.

Wood fiber, wood chips

Both are made from untreated wood scraps. They provide a loose, airy substrate, but hardly store any water. Wood fiber is not structurally stable. Wood chaff is coarser and therefore has hardly any water storage capacity, but has good drainage properties. Wood materials cannot store nutrients. With the exception of our Plantura organic turf soil, all Plantura organic soils contain wood fiber.


Compost has the advantage that it has a high pH value and hardly sags. Compost can effectively store and release nutrients and water, which is why it is contained in all of our Plantura organic soils. Quality assured substrate compost is free from plant pathogens and weeds.


Sand can act as a source of iron in substrates, but otherwise hardly stores any nutrients. It is heavy, which is why mixtures with sand are particularly suitable for buckets that cannot be blown away so quickly. Mixed in in sufficient quantities, it ensures good water drainage and sufficient root aeration, for example in our Plantura organic turf soil.

Peat substitutes: 11 alternatives to peat in the ground

Sand is a stable raw material that brings iron into the substrate [Photo: vetre /]


Bentonite is a natural clay mixture made from various clay minerals. These can swell when they absorb water. When used in substrates, they therefore increase water storage enormously. The clay minerals can absorb nutrients, store them and release them again when required. Because they greatly increase the fertility of the substrate together with compost, they are contained in our Plantura organic flowering plant soil and organic universal soil.

Expanded clay

Expanded clay is the result of the strong heating of clays. Compared to the starting material, expanded clay allows very little water and nutrient storage. When mixed in large enough quantities, expanded clay improves water permeability and thus root aeration, which benefits our Plantura organic flowering potting soil.

Coconut materials: coconut pulp, coconut fiber, coconut chips

Coconut pulp is the abrasion of coconut shells. Coconut fibers are completely loosened from the coconut and cut into small pieces. Coconut chips are the same fibers, but in a cube shape. All three are structurally stable and hardly store any nutrients. Coconut fibers and chips hold less water, but aerate the substrate well. Coconut pulp is contained in all of our Plantura organic soils because it has properties similar to white peat.

Peat substitutes: 11 alternatives to peat in the ground

Coconut materials are obtained from the thick shell of the coconut nut [Photo: a-creations /]

Rice husks / rice husks

Rice husks are produced when rice is threshed. Rice husks are very light and provide a loose, air-permeable substrate. They cannot store large amounts of water or nutrients.


Perlite is a volcanic glass that expands under great heat and becomes porous. It is pH neutral and does not hold any nutrients. It stores small amounts of water, but loosens substrates with sufficient admixture so that the roots are well ventilated. This is particularly important for young plants, which is why perlites loosen up our Plantura organic herb and seed soil.

Peat substitutes: 11 alternatives to peat in the ground

Perlites are used to make substrates loose and permeable [Photo: Christina Siow /]

Pine bark

Pine bark is obtained from the Mediterranean pine. It is structurally stable and ensures good ventilation in the substrate. It contains hardly any nutrients and can easily be adapted to the needs of each plant with fertilizers and lime. Our Plantura organic pine bark, for example, is natural and is sustainably produced in the EU from natural raw materials.


Xylitol is a preliminary stage of lignite, i.e. incomplete carbonized plant parts. It is a by-product of lignite mining. It is very structurally stable and provides an airy substrate with good water storage at the same time.

In addition to the alternatives mentioned, bark humus, broken bricks and vermiculite are also used in peat-free and peat-reduced potting soil. Compost soils are particularly popular. Plantura organic soils also contain valuable compost. We explain how compost is made and how you can use compost as fertilizer. Or do you prefer to plant your plants directly in the ground? Then we’ll show you how you can improve your garden soil.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in building humus as an alternative to peat, you can find out everything you need to know in this article.

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