What is peat and what is it used for?

Peat is the substrate that is most used in the cultivation of all kinds of plants . It is economical, maintains humidity and is the most recommended soil for most of our pots. But did you know that there are two types? Each one has its uses, as I am going to tell you below.

Let’s learn more about the substrate most appreciated by gardeners.


  • 1 What is peat?
  • 2 How is it formed?
    • 2.0.1 Types of peat
  • 3 What is it used for?
    • 3.1 In gardening
    • 3.2 Skin care

What is peat?

Black peat, a perfect substrate to grow all kinds of plants

Image – Gramoflor.com

Peat is actually the generic name applied to various materials from the decomposition of vegetables , depending on the environmental conditions of the place where they decompose.

Peat bogs are lacustrine basins of glacial origin that today contain more or less decomposed plant material or freshwater peat. They are anaerobic media, that is, with excess moisture and poor oxygenation, so the organic matter partially decomposes. In Spain we have one of the most important in the Sierra de Gistral, in Galicia.

How is it formed?

Plants, as we know, have a limited life expectancy. As their leaves, flowers and stems dry, they fall to the ground, where a series of microorganisms such as fungi will decompose them. When this happens in swamps, marshes or wetlands, there is very little microbial activity in those places, so the peat takes years to form and become several meters thick . The process is so slow that it is estimated that it accumulates at a rate of about ten centimeters every hundred years.

Depending on which area they form in, we distinguish between two types:

types of peat

Two types are distinguished, which are:

  • Black peat : forms in low areas, rich in bases. They are very decomposed, so their color is dark brown almost black. The pH is high, between 7.5 and 8. It has almost no nutrients. Now, it is the most suitable for growing practically all kinds of plants: vegetables, flowers , trees … Why? Because it allows them to have a good development.
  • Blonde peat : it forms in places where temperatures remain mild, and where rainfall is very abundant. These conditions result in soil that is very poor in nutrients. The pH is low, between 3 and 4. It is used for carnivorous plants , since in addition to containing almost no nutrients it allows them to grow without problems, and also to acidify the soil or even the substrate, something that will do wonders for plants acidophilic such as Japanese maples or azaleas . The percentage in the latter case will depend on the pH of the soil in the garden or in the pot, but in general, 40% blonde peat must be added.

What is it for?

Blonde peat, ideal for carnivorous plants

Image – Nordtorf.eu

in gardening

Today it is used to grow virtually all kinds of plants: cacti , ferns , flowers, trees, etc. The only thing that must be taken into account is that they hardly have any nutrients -in fact, nitrogen, an essential nutrient for the growth of plant beings, does not reach 1%-, so the plants we have must be fertilized regularly , except if with carnivores, since otherwise they will spoil after a while.

Peat is the most suitable for growing plants, as it maintains a lot of moisture , which will allow us to save on irrigation water. Likewise, it favors the good development of the roots as it is a porous material. But unfortunately we also have to talk about the inconvenience they have: in areas with strong sunshine, or where the summer is especially hot, once it loses all its moisture we have to put the pot in a bucket or tray with water to rehydrate it. For this reason, it is often chosen to mix it with perlite or coconut fiber.

Skin care

Natural peat has chemical compounds that are used for skin treatment, as it is acidic and contains a lot of water.

Black peat is used for seedbeds
What is peat and what is it used for?

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