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How to Clean Plant Pots

Besides wanting your plants to look fresh, there are a couple reasons why you should aim to keep your plant pots clean.
The first reason has to do with the minerals in soil: when left in the same container for long periods of time, deposits of salt can seep into the bottom of any new plants you bring in – and old salt deposits can inhibit the growth and health of new plants. The second reason is the risk of transferring any plant disease that may have been growing in your container – from leaf rust to sclerotinia, just a tiny bit of fungi can harm your plants, especially when left in a damp container for a length of time. Another benefit of taking the time to clean before repotting is moisture. Just a quick wash or wipe-down of the inside of a pot right before packing in soil can help lock in hydration for new plants.

How to Clean a Plant Pot

Cleaning Terracotta Pots

Terracotta pots are popular for amateur gardeners, as they already contain pre-drilled holes at the bottom for water drainage and are easy to grow a wide variety of plants in. The only downside is that the material of clay can make it easy for salt and mineral deposits to stick to the surface, creating a white residue. To clean the material, use a mixture of white vinegar and water (20 parts water and 1 part vinegar). Soak the pot for thirty minutes in the vinegar solution, then scrub off any remaining residue with a brush.

Cleaning Plastic Pots

If you’re using a decorative planter with a smaller plastic pot inside, the plastic pot is where you’ll want to focus your cleaning efforts. To disinfect for fungi and kill any plant parasites that may be lingering, submerge the pot in a water solution with a bit of disinfecting bleach (a ratio of 1 to 20 is recommended). Take out after twenty minutes and rinse off remaining residue.

Cleaning Metal Planters

If a stainless steel, galvanized metal, powder-coated metal or brass pot needs cleaning, you can simply wipe down with a soft, non-abrasive towel. If there are shallow stains that won’t come off with a dry towel, use a damp cloth with a mild soap solution. Always dry these types of pots, which are prone to scratches, with a soft towel.

Tip for Plant Pot Care #1

Decorative planters often need a plastic pot to hold the dirt and plant. If you are using a plastic pot, make sure to water the plant when the pot is removed from the decorative planter. Watering a plant while the plant is in a decorative planter increases the risk of trapping water between the two containers – as well as forming rust on the outside of metal containers.

Tip for Plant Pot Care #2

Even if your pot is brand-new, it’s a good idea to wipe it down before inserting a plant, especially if it came unpackaged. This will ensure the removal of any particles or dust layers that would otherwise get in the way of a healthy growth cycle for your new greens!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.