By Audrey Tan

The urge to amass a collection of beautiful pots and containers for your garden is real. But there will come a time when it becomes a little too cluttered, and you’ll have to re-use what you have for your new plant friends.

Before sowing your new seeds, did you know that it is vital for your plant’s health that you first give your pots and containers a good scrub? Keep reading to find out why, and learn some valuable tips to level up your green fingers!

Why Should I Clean And Disinfect Garden Pots And Containers?

Even if the used planter “looks” clean, nasty substances may be settled on the walls and invisible to the naked eye. For instance, there may be lingering insect larvae or disease-carrying spores that can compromise your growing seedling. If you’ve been using your pot for a while, chances are the walls will have a lining of white, stubborn residue that’s a bit more difficult to remove. 

Without properly cleaning and removing these substances, mould, algae, moths, or other parasites are also allowed to fester, diminishing your plant’s chances of survival even more. Plus, a good washing will remove any griminess away so that you have a container that looks as good as new!

Get Scrubbing!

Luckily, it’ll only take a few minutes and some elbow grease to guarantee your new plants’ survival if you are recycling your pots. So don’t be tempted to skip this important step, or you may just regret it! Follow these simple tips to get your garden pots and containers clean and free of potential contaminants:

  1. First things first, empty out any remaining bits of the previous plant, including the soil. 
  1. Next, disinfect the planter by mixing 10 parts water to 1 part bleach inside the container for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour. Remember to be extra careful when handling bleach and wear protective equipment such as gloves and goggles!

If you’re iffy about handling bleach, vinegar works well to eliminate bug eggs and disease spores and will also loosen up hardened residue. You’ll have to let it soak for a few hours more, but it’s a much safer alternative. 

Once it’s had a good soak, give the walls a vigorous scrub to remove any calcified deposits on the walls. You’ll need a stiff brush or scourer and a lot of clean water to wash the dirt away. You may have to use something more robust, such as an old butter knife, to gently scrape away any stubborn residues. 

If you’re using ceramic pots, try your best to scrub away as much white residue as possible. It can be pretty tricky, so don’t be afraid to be vigorous. This step is usually much easier for plastic containers.

  1. When you’re happy with the results, put the planter in a bucket or sink filled with a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water to see if any deposits remain.
  1. Then, rinse it thoroughly with clean water and let it soak until you are ready to sow your seeds.
  1. Before housing your new plant, make sure to give the container another rinse and let it dry completely before using. 

Tips For Taking Care Of Your Planters

Taking good care of your pots and containers can make them last longer, letting you have your favourite vintage pot or the one with sentimental value in your garden for a long time. Here are some tips for taking care of them:

  • Avoid using boiling water to clean your containers, as doing so can crack plastic, ceramic, and stone pots. 
  • Clay and ceramic pots should be kept inside as they absorb moisture. This becomes a problem during wintertime, particularly if there is constant freezing and thawing, as this can cause these types of pots to crack. 
  • If you have to stack your ceramic pots, wrap them in a layer of newspaper or some kind of cushion to prevent scratching and chipping. 
  • You can keep plastic containers outdoors, but they must be protected from sunlight since the material can become brittle, and colours will fade much quicker.
  • Store clean containers away from dirty ones to prevent cross-contamination.

Let’s be real; you probably underestimated the importance of keeping your garden pots clean before coming across this article. But it’s never too late to learn. It may be a little more work than you want, but your new plant friends will absolutely thank you! And, as with all things, the more you stick to your cleaning routine, the less work it will cause you down the line. 

Follow the tips above, and your pots will not only last you a longer time, but your plants will reward you with a luscious display of flowering beauty once summer finally rolls around again.