The Q&A Archives: Peat Moss vs. Peat Humus

Question: What is the difference between peat moss and peat humus? I am making my own soil to use for a general flower garden and I am planning to add a peat product to a mixture of commercial top soil and vermiculite. Should I use peat humus or peat moss, and why?


Peat humus is the dead, highly decomposed organic material that accumulates in the lower levels of peat bogs. It is an excellent soil conditioner, but has a lower water-holding capacity than peat moss. It is a relatively expensive soil amendment.

Sphagnum moss is a living moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. It is generally used by florists. In the natural processes that occur in the bog environment, layers of the moss become submerged and begin to decay. This decayed sphagnum moss often makes up a large percentage of commercial peats, thus, peat moss. If it dries out, it is hard to rewet.

Peat is harvested from natural peat bogs, processed, and sold by various companies. Peat contains organic material in various stages of decomposition.

If your flower garden will be in a raised bed or in-ground, I would use compost instead of peat humus or peat moss. Compost has more nutrients, a neutral pH, and is easier to rewet if it gets dried out. For a container planting mix, I would use peat moss, as it is lighter than compost.

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