Prevent Potting Soil Fires

by the Calgary Fire Department

fire plant
diddi4 / Pixabay

Today’s potting soils contain large volumes of peat moss. When peat moss gets too dry, it becomes highly flammable. On top of that, you’ll often find shredded wood, bark, Styrofoam and vermiculite in potting mix. Like peat moss, all of these ingredients ignite easily under dry conditions.

Over the past number of years, we have received numerous 911 calls from citizens who, while walking their dog late at night, see the outside of a home on fire. These fires are typically attributed a cigarette before they go to bed. After finishing the cigarette, it is put out in the porch plant pot…because “that is where I’ve always put it out and there has never been a problem” then as they sleep the still burning cigarette lights the dry peat moss on fire, and voila! After a period of time, the outside of the house is on fire while the residents sleep inside!

A few simple precautions will help to keep your home safe:

  • Make sure the soil around your potted plants stays moist. Keep in mind that the soil in pots dries out more quickly than soil in garden beds, so plan on more frequent watering.
  • While regular garden soil may extinguish a cigarette, the same isn’t true for potting soil. Make sure smokers have a safe place to dispose of their butts, indoors and outdoors, so they aren’t tempted to use your pot of geraniums instead.

Keep potting soil away from combustible materials. Keep potting soil and potted plants away from things that ignite and burn easily, such as firewood, stacks of old newspapers, aerosols, paint solvents, gasoline and cleaning products.


The MALTESE CROSS had its beginning during the Crusades, and it’s shape adopted to the shields of the knights of Malta who were also known to wear red capes. When assisting armies who had been doused with Naptha and lit on fire, the knights would pull off their red capes and put the flames out. It has since been adopted as a symbol of fire departments.