Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
In the fall, I usually dump the contents of my annual planters and pots into a pile in the woods, then store them in my shed over the winter. Is there anything I should be doing to my pots before I put them away? Connie
A general cleaning is a good thing to do. If you
have a functioning compost pile, dispose of the old
potting soil into the compost pile. The temperature
a compost pile gets to will kill off most weed seeds
and pathogens and in the spring you'll have some great
planting medium to use. Wipe out the remaining dirt
and roots from the pots and planters with a rag or brush,
wash them off and then store for the winter. Although a
well-established plant shouldn't be affected by a pot that
isn't sterilized, some people believe in sterilizing their
pots before winter. This helps eliminate any doubt about
fungal spores, insect eggs and disease organisms that
might affect next year's plants in the container. If you had
a disease issue with plants in a particular pot, then you
definitely want to sterilize it before storing.
There are two methods:
- Heat Method: Metal or clay pots can be boiled. Terra cotta pots can be baked
in an oven to kill off pathogens, or
- Liquid Cleaning Solution Method: Any type of pot can be washed with a cleaning
solution. 1 part bleach and 10 parts water OR 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
Let the pot soak in the mixture then rinse and dry thoroughly. After dried they'll
be ready for the potting shed.
When you store your freshly cleaned pots, put them
in a plastic tote or garbage bag. This helps prevent
critters from calling them home over the winter. If
you have terra cotta pots, try rubbing them down with
some linseed oil to help moisturize them and brighten
up their color. In the spring, seedlings should always
be started in a sterilized container. A few steps now
will lead to a happy 2016 growing season!
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.