Fire Hazard for Indoor Plants

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

Everyone knows the fire dangers that come with a Christmas tree.

But there could be another dangerous plant sitting in your living room this winter.

"We just want folks to know that this potting soil can catch on fire," said Glen Loyd, Wisconsin consumer protection.

Loyd is talking about the ordinary potting mix most of us have in the planters sitting in our homes.

Loyd says that dirt-like mix that's sold in most stores is responsible for melting this planter on a local man's porch a few months ago.

"He was very concerned about it, brought it in, thought it might have been spontaneous combustion," said Loyd, "but when our investigators looked at it, they found a cigarette in the remains."

Loyd says a cigarette ignited the peat mix in this planter and created a smoldering mass of dirt that melted straight through the planter and the table underneath it, landing on the deck below.

"It can catch on fire and it can catch on fire the way that maybe paper can catch on fire or anything else," said Loyd.

But gardening experts say there isn't any reason to stop using potting mixes with peat as an ingredient.

"If it were a big hazard, we would have heard about it probably a long time ago," said Lori Leonard, Jung Garden Center, "just as something to let people know about."

Leonard says the employees at Jung Garden Center have never heard of a planter starting on fire.

Leonard says peat mixes are a very common gardening tool that shouldn't cause anyone to lose any sleep.

"That's what you use for your indoor house plants," said Leonard, "your containers, that's what the UW uses to re-pot their plants."

Those at consumer protection tell us the product isn't dangerous enough to need any kind of warning label.

Loyd says they just want people to be aware that planting mixes are one of many household items that can be dangerous if they're not used properly.

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