Best Bagged Compost for Indoor and Outdoor Plants

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Composting at home is the best approach to getting fertilizers. However, more than the compost is needed sometimes, and I have to buy bagged compost to supplement the one I have at home. After experiencing different brands, the following brands have the best-bagged compost. Before we get started, what is bagged compost?

What is Bagged Compost

Bagged compost is organic compost that is readymade and is sold in stores. Organic compost is a form of fertilizer that has undergone the composting process.

Here are the best-bagged compost options for your vegetables, flowers, or garden.

Best Bagged Compost

1) Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer

Wiggle Worm 100% Pure Organic Worm Castings Fertilizer, 4.5-Pounds - Improves Soil Fertility and...
  • MOST PURE - WIGGLE WORM is PURE worm castings, not vermicompost containing uneaten worm bedding. It’s one of very...
  • A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY! - All you need is a small handful to a half a cup per plant
  • IMPROVES SOIL STRUCTURE – WIGGLE WORM Pure Worm Castings contain tiny, football-shaped particles that help...
  • INDOOR AND OUTDOOR – WIGGLE WORM Pure Worm Castings are great for indoor or outdoor use because it’s non-toxic...
  • EASY TO USE - Apply to the top of the soil three times a year or add to the hole when transplanting/seeding

Last update on 2024-04-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Worm castings are the best forms of composted manure, and this bag served me for a long period. The compost is slowly releasing and does not overwhelm the plants with nutrients. The compost is ideal for garden soil or potted plants in the house.

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I do not have to buy compost piles anymore, as only a handful is enough to serve my needs.


  • Highly nutritious
  • Good for all types of garden application
  • Slow releasing
  • No weed seeds


  • Relatively pricey

2) Michigan Peat Garden Magic Compost

Michigan Peat 40 Pound Garden Magic Compost and Manure with Odor Free Blend and Naturally Moist and...
  • Garden magic compost and manure
  • An odor free blend of natural organic reed sedge peat and composted animal manure
  • It provides a natural nutrient content
  • Ideal for improving a wide range of planting soils
  • Available in 40-pound

Last update on 2024-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I love buying this bag because it is odor free. The mixture of peat and manure solves the problems that traditional peat moss poses, which includes changing soil pH levels. The compost nutrients are natural and easy for the plants to take up compared to other composts.


  • Odor-free
  • Natural nutrient content
  • Use over a wide range of soils
  • Easy to use
  • Certified organic compost


  • The compost should only stay for a short time before use.

3) Ribbon Organics Compost

Ribbon Organics OMRI Certified Organic Compost Size: 7.9 Gallons, 32-35 Pound Bag
  • Improves soil structure & aeration
  • Promotes water retention
  • OMRI Certified for Organic Use
  • Safe for use at any concentration
  • Pairs wonderfully with worm castings & other soil builders

Last update on 2024-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ribbons Organics improve soil structure and aeration and are good for germinating seeds. The compost also works for grown plants, and I use it on my flower beds to improve growth.

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Ribbon compost has essential nutrients, making it the best compost for your garden.

The versatility of the compost is what draws me most to it. I can use the compost alongside castings and other soil builders. Furthermore, I can use the compost at any concentration and not harm the plants.


  • Miscible with other composts
  • Easy to use
  • Use any amount
  • Affordable
  • Certified for organic use


  • The compost might need to be supplemented with other composts.

4) Organic Black Kow Mushroom Compost

Black Kow Organic Brands Mushroom Growing Mix Compost Plant Fertilizer Soil Supplements for...
  • Black Gold 40 Pound Mushroom Media Compost
  • Three convenient sizes - 8 pounds, 15 pounds and 40 pounds
  • Note: eight pound and fifteen pound sizes do not come in factory bag. They are re-bagged into the appropriate size.

Last update on 2024-04-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Organic Kow is the compost I use when working on a new garden or plant. The compost is also good for top dressing or planting as it encourages rapid growth. Organic Kow is easy to use as I must mix it with the native soil without worrying about ratios and too much chemistry.


  • Nutritious
  • Best organic option for blooming plants
  • Easy use


  • A bit pricey

5) Black Kow Cow Compost

Last update on 2024-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Cow manure is my go-to manure when working on a large farm because I am sure I will not encounter weed seeds. This makes Black Kow a sure bet when picking which fertilizer to use in a larger project.

Image Source: homedepot

Black Kow compost releases the nutrients slowly without the risk of burning the plants. This is one reason Why I prefer the manure over others.

I can plant tomatoes straight in the bag by laying it on its side and punching drainage holes at the bottom.


  • Slow release
  • Easy to apply
  • Great for large projects
  • Plant tomatoes directly into the bag


  • While it is possible to plant directly into the compost, there are better practices than this

Bagged Compost Buying Guide

Bagged Compost Buying Guide

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a) Look for “Organic” in the Label

The first step to knowing the contents of a compost bag is to read the label properly. Then, the best compost will be appropriate for your farm or flower and vegetable gardens.

I use the labels to compare the ingredients between different brands of compost. I prefer earthworm castings for my indoor plants and sawdust or soil compost for vegetable garden beds. Most bagged composts can work for both indoor and outdoor plants.

b) Keep Away from Compost Containing Weed Seeds

It will be hard to know if compost has weed seeds in it unless it is your own compost from home. To completely avoid weed seed risk on the compost I am buying, I keep away from compost made of garden waste like grass clippings and leaves. These compost types have a probability of having seeds on them.

When buying bulk compost for organic gardening, I choose to stick with chicken manure, mushroom compost, cow manure, or earthworm castings.

When getting bagged compost for vegetable gardens, I can take some risks. However, I can not risk a weed explosion when working in a large garden with compost.

c) Single Material-Compost

I avoid compost made only of one material to ensure a balanced nutrient outcome for my garden. The more diverse the compost, the better for my garden. Compost with different materials can pass for a multi-purpose compost which I can use in indoor and outdoor plants.

d) Fine Textured Compost

Finely textured compost makes it easier for the soil to absorb nutrients more effectively. As a result, fine compost particles are taken into the soil more readily, leading to healthier plants sooner.

Types of Bagged Compost

Types of Bagged Compost

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i) Sawdust Based Compost

As the name suggests, this is compost made mainly of sawdust. Sawdust from any tree can be used to make manure as it is organic material. Sawdust mainly balances out nitrogen from the organic materials in the compost. Sawdust also produces some carbon which is useful in making a balanced compost.

Sawdust is one of the brown composting materials and is a popular option for making organic compost.

ii) Soil Based Organic Compost

This is a more straightforward type of compost made from soil and other organic matter. Soil is abundant, and this compost can be one of the most common options in the market. In addition, the soil compost may contain materials you mostly encounter in garden waste, like grass clippings, leaves, and vegetables.

Soil-based compost is great for vegetable gardens as they readily bond with the soil.

The soil-based compost is a bit costly compared to the rest. However, it has a lot of other advantages, like being odorless and very nutritious.

iii) Manure Based Compost

Manure-based compost is made from animal droppings, mostly cows. Other animals can include horses, chickens, and other domestic animals. The animals are mostly those that are herbivorous. You will hardly find cat droppings in your composted animal manure.

The manure is placed in bags with other materials, such as leaves, paper shreds, or sawdust, and eventually placed in bins for composting.

Buying bagged manure compost saves you the trouble of dealing with the smell and dirt that fresh manure comes with. I prefer handling composted cow manure over fresh manure.

iv) Worm Castings Compost

This special type of compost involves worms eating through organic matter. The compost is the excrement from the worms after they consume the manure. The waste, also known as castings, is full of rich minerals and microbes that improve soil quality.

I use the worm castings compost for top-dressing, potted plants, or mixing it up with soil for healthy plants.

How to Identify Quality Compost

How to Identify Quality Compost

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There are moments when knowing the quality of the compost you are using is vital. For instance, when using compost on a large scale, I have to ensure it contains the right nutrients and ingredients. Otherwise, I run the risk of getting substandard or toxic compost.

While it might show on the label that I am buying certified organic compost, I have to use my judgment to ensure it is okay.

Here are some things I look out for when identifying good compost.

1) Color

The compost should be rich brown. Otherwise, any other color is compost I would not put my money on. So I look for rich brown or dark brown compost.

2) Texture

If the compost I am buying is muddy, it means there is a problem. Either the composting process needs to be completed, or the compost needs to be stored properly.

While worms produce compost tea, it should not be enough to make the compost muddy to the touch. Instead, the compost should crumble and fall between the fingers as sand would.

The other bit of texture I am keen on is identifying some of the compost material used. I should be able to note some magazine cuttings, wood shreds, egg shells, or food scraps. These materials can be a little obscure, but I should be able to see some.

3) Smell

If the compost I buy has a pungent smell, I will not pick it. This is because the pungent smell indicates that the compost is not well balanced. Well-balanced compost should smell like fresh earth.

Be familiar with the smells of decaying wood, decomposing manure, and fruit and vegetable scraps. This is an easy way to know that compost is either good or bad for your garden beds.

4) A Professional Test

Whenever I work on a large farm, I prefer a professional content test on the compost I buy. Luckily, most local garden centers have professionals who will help test organic compost and chemical fertilizers before use.

I try involving a professional even when dealing with homemade compost, as it is for the good of my plants.

A professional test is a sure way to test for good quality compost and chemical or synthetic fertilizers.

5) Checking Temperature

This test applies not to the bagged compost but to homemade compost. This is one of the tests I use to check if my composting process is happening properly. Anywhere between 90 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit should be okay.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bagged Compost

Frequently Asked Questions About Bagged Compost

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a) Is bagged compost similar to the potted mix?

Potting mix is soil made ready to take plants or seedlings directly. On the other hand, you should refrain from planting anything directly into bagged compost as it is meant to be mixed with soil. The main difference is the mineral composition and moisture retention between the two mixtures. Potting soil is well-balanced for a plant or a seedling to grow.

b) Is bagged compost safe for my plants?

Bagged compost is safe for the most part. However, there is a level of risk you take each time you buy bagged compost. First, you might need to learn the kinds of minerals the compost has been exposed to, putting your plants and yourself at risk.

Secondly, if the compost pile gets moist during storage, the minerals in the compost might leach downwards, creating a stronger concentration of the compost at the bottom of the pile.

c) Can a compost pile expire?

Compost is like wine. The longer it stays, the better it becomes. However, one needs to have the right environment to keep the compost to keep it from losing its potency. For instance, if the compost is kept in a moist environment, as mentioned above, it might leach its nutrients.

Furthermore, if the compost is kept under extreme temperatures, the composting process might be interfered with. Remember, microorganisms help the composting process. The density of the compost might go down, but overall, the compost will be usable.

Challenges with keeping compost are more prevalent when you make your compost. However, bagged compost rarely has these challenges.

I avoid storing the compost for more than three months at a time.

d) Is Compost Bad For Soil?

Is Compost Bad For Soil?

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This question comes down to application and use. As with everything else, moderation is the best method when applying compost. If you use too much compost, there is a chance that the soil will have too much phosphorous in it, leading to a toxic environment for plants.

Plants require a balance of nutrients. These nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. If one of the nutrients outweighs the others by a large margin, the plants might suffer.

Before applying compost or fertilizer, it is advisable to do a soil mineral test to determine the nutrient content. You can do the test yourself or get a professional to help.

e) Can I grow vegetables in compost only?

As I mentioned earlier, unlike potted soil, bagged compost is not safe for direct use because it needs to be better balanced and has a structure similar to soil structure. Therefore, the compost cannot hold water properly and may leach its ingredients.

Using compost only might expose the plants to excess nutrients, which might be toxic instead of nutritious.

f) Should I use fertilizer alongside compost?

There is no need to use fertilizer and compost as they have a similar goal: adding nutrients to the soil. In addition, if you use fertilizer and compost, the soil might become toxic from too many minerals.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

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Finding the best-bagged compost means giving good health to your plants and vice versa. This article should be of great help to get you started on compost fertilizers. Before considering artificial fertilizers, compost is the way to go.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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