Q: I repotted my African violets and most of them died. Is it possible the potting soil I used was too old? -- Harriet Lyons, Chicago A: It is possible the potting soil was stale or too old. Moisture trapped in unopened bags can cause problems. And if the mix contained fertilizer, heat and moisture also can cause fertilizer salts to reach levels that damage plant roots. It is best to use potting soil within six months. Up to that point, it should be stored somewhere dry, out of direct sunlight, where it is protected from freeze/thaw cycles.
Robin Carlson, Chicago Botanic Garden
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