Biodegradable, huh?

43 comments by Halley -Author at MIGardener

I am not sure if I have been the only one who has experienced this, but I would strongly recommend people change how they use the expandable peat pellets. I am not someone who likes to sugar coat things, and let me tell you. They are easy and that is about it. The numerous companies that sell the expandable peat pellet (one being jiffy obviously) does not realize what a detriment to your plants health they are causing. I recently used some of these peat pellets last year just to try them out, I am always looking for new ways to garden, and show people how to grow food easier with less effort. When I stumbled upon these, I had seen them before, but always figured they were too good to be true. Turns out, they really were... why? I will tell you. So I placed them in water, and just as advertised, they swelled up to 4 times their size. I noticed the nylon-ish cover holding the entire thing together, but after doing a bit of looking around the companies stated the roots would grow right through them, and they would brake down over time... So I planted the seeds, and had plants growing before I knew it. Then it came to planting, some roots had begun to push through the nylon-ish cover and I thought to myself, "WOW.. this was way to easy!"

Later that summer After a few months I began noticing that the plant was stunted, and not very sturdy. I figured it was just the plant. But then as I began looking at the other pepper plants I had planted, I noticed that they were all very top heavy, and stunted. I let them grow obliviously.

This Spring I was cleaning out my beds and I came across those pepper plants that had died last summer without producing more than a few small peppers, and did not do so well. I decided, "Oh, well. They have been dead now for a year, might as well see what the covering did", and to my shock, this is what I found.

 There, on the bottom of the roots, was a completely intact nylon-ish covering of the jiffy peat pellet. Nothing had broken down, and although the roots HAD indeed pushed through, you could see clearly the problem was caused from a totally suffocated root ball. The plants had no root structure, and actually were forced to root out from the stem to form adequate roots to sustain life.

I want everyone to know these things, because nothing beats a good ol' solo cup and soil. But if the pods work for you try cutting the lining off before planting in your pot or outside to allow the roots to fully grow to the potential needed to grow a happy plant. 


  • Laurie

    Same experience last summer. First time using them, found them still around the roots in the fall, ugh. Never again.

  • Betty

    I call them death bags. Nothing does well or lives long in them, in my experience. I’ve had to save a lot of houseplants from these, and nurse them back to health after being forced to remove most of the roots in order to free it. I wish they were banned.

  • Rich Nehring

    I used these pots once about forty years ago and they did was keep the roots from expanding. After the plants died I dug up the dead plant and there was the complete peat pot. No decomposing at all. What a waste of money.

  • Jim

    I have not had a problem getting my seedling to do well using these things but I do find the bags in the garden a long time after using. This year, I’ll be using homemade starter pots made from used toilette paper rolls. I cut them to one-inch lengths and pack the bottom with starter soil. I’ve had good luck transplanting cuke and melons in bottomless peach cans.

  • Paula

    I always remove the nylon mesh cover off my peat pellet before planting, but you have to be careful to plant before the roots grow through it. Otherwise you will damage the roots by removing the nylon.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published