RHS: Potting compost is still safe

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has moved to reassure garden and greenhouse fans that the vast majority of potting compost is safe to use.

It elected to comment in the wake of newspaper reports linking the material with Legionellosis, which is caused by bacteria.

However, the RHS has underlined that the risks to Brits are extremely low as the Legionella bacterium Legionella longbeachae requires standing water and temperatures in excess of 20 degrees C to breed.

To minimise the chances of catching anything from potting soil, gloves should be worn when handling the soil, compost, fertiliser or pesticides.

Gardeners should also keep their heads away from the bags of soil when opening them and never pop up in a confined space.

Moistening the potting compost is also useful, while wearing a dust mask should stop any nasties being inhaled.

Due to the bacteria’s need for warm conditions, it is unwise to keep potting media in the greenhouse.

In other news, the RHS recently published the latest edition of its Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers.