How to look after your garden pots and planters

Whether you’ve got a (literal) shedload of nursery pots or a growing collection of ceramic cuties, here’s everything you need to know about taking care of containers.

Caring for indoor and outdoor containers

First off, there’s no hard and fast rule about the difference between indoor and outdoor pots. Whatever you want to put on your kitchen windowsill is okay by us.

That said, outdoor garden containers tend to have better drainage so plants aren’t sitting in water after it rains. Indoor pots are often designed without drainage holes, to save mess and make it easy to slip a plant straight inside, nursery pot and all.

Indoor pots might need an occasional rinse to get rid of any compost or crumbly leaf bumph gathering in the bottom.

Outdoor pots require a bit of love when not in use and ceramic containers need protection over the winter to keep them looking their best.

What’s the best way to store garden pots?

When your pots aren’t being used, the best way to store them is to stack them upside-down in a safe spot so they don’t get broken or damaged. This might be on a high shelf, away from tiny hands or paws, in a crate or on a bench. Wait until they’re dry before stacking and consider slipping a sheet of paper between each to stop them from sticking together.

With plastic pots, you can make some impressively tall towers, but it pays to be less adventurous with terracotta and ceramic…

How do you clean plant pots? (and is it really necessary?)

It might seem like a faff but, between uses, it’s a good idea to give your pots a quick clean to keep pests and diseases at bay and ensure they look their best.

To spruce up your containers, brush the soil and residue out of them and give them a good rinse. If you’re keen to disinfect them more thoroughly, use soapy water or even add some white vinegar to the mix, before letting the pots air dry.

Pots covered in a hard white crust? Some people like to leave these salty deposits be, as it makes the pots look more *ravishingly* rustic. But, if you’re firmly in Camp Clean and want to see the weathered effect gone, mix some baking soda and water into a paste and go at it with a toothbrush or fine steel wool. Tada!

How can I protect garden pots and planters?

Clay and ceramic containers expand and contract in different temperatures. Winter is prime time for taking care of these pots and planters, as water can become trapped inside their pores and expand, causing cracking and frost damage.

You can prevent damage to empty terracotta pots by giving them a scrub and letting them dry out before storing them indoors. If you’re leaving pots outside all year, raise them on bricks or pot feet to keep drainage holes clear and allow water to escape. You could also move occupied pots indoors or pop them into a greenhouse during the colder months.

When should I replace a plant pot?

If they’re in good condition, your pots can be reused time and time again.

In theory, there’s no need to replace a container unless it breaks. Biodegradable pots can then be composted and plastic ones can go into the recycling.

When a ceramic pot finally gives up the ghost, all’s not lost. You can use the fragments (crocks) to improve drainage when you plant up other containers.

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