All Things Gardening forum: Sterilizing used garden pots

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Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Oct 7, 2016 3:07 AM CST
Someone else asked about re-using soil, but I'd like to know about re-using pots. (Note the 's' on the end of that word.)
I'm not especially worried about my 'regular' garden plants. Most, but not all, have moved to a perennial bed. I'm more concerned about plants like epiphyllums and others that I guess might be called 'esoteric'.
For clay pots, should I use the old bleach trip on them or just rinse them out? Really the same question about plastic pots.
My concern is that I might unknowingly give a new plant the nasties.
Advice?Opinions?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Oct 7, 2016 12:27 PM CST
If you use the classic "bleach" method, look closely at the label on the bottle of bleach.

If the fine print doesn't say "Sodium Hypochlorite", it might not be what we used to call "bleach".
Some laundry bleach is now "oxygen-based" and does not work as a disinfectant.


scrub clean: remove visible dirt and mineral deposits. You can use a wire brush on clay pots.

soak at least 10 minutes in 1:10 dilution of CHLORINE bleach (household bleach, not "oxygen" bleach. Preferably unscented.)

http://philadelphiacountymastergardeners.blogspot.com/2012/0...
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Oct 7, 2016 11:03 PM CST
I think it depends a lot on what type of plants you are growing; some years I get time to clean the pots from my veggie seedlings,-- other years... not so much. Even so, I've never had a problem.

However, this year I grew some Madagascar vinca (Catharanthus roseus) from seed, that eventually developed a fungus, so i will be more careful in regard to what I pot that up in, in the future.
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 9, 2016 1:04 AM CST
I usually fill up my laundry tub, add some bleach and soak them for an hour (trading them out as often are needed to process all my pots and usable 6-packs). I don't think bleach gets used up in a few hours.

Then I give them a few tubs of clean water. So far, I've never noticed any problems in germination the following year. And BTW, an aquarium expert told me that 2 ml of HO (hydrogen peroxide) per 25 gallons is really good at killing algae. And since the instructions say you can actually gargle with the stuff, it can't be very harmful. And it is cheap!
[Last edited by Yardenman - Oct 9, 2016 1:25 AM (+)]
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Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Oct 9, 2016 9:41 PM CST
@RickCorey - I hadn't realized that there were differences in bleach. I'lll read the labels when I go to the store. And the thought of perfumed bleach is giving me the willies.

I think where I'm my plants worst (well worst is questionable - long list) enemy is that I take many small plants that are in 4" plastic pots and then set them in larger clay pots. I've even seen where I've put a pot in a pot in a pot. Sometimes for appearance. Mostly so the little guys don't get blown over or knocked over by Ms Clumsy here. I'm wondering if it might help to clean the clay pots that I'm setting the plastic pots in.

A few nights ago I had to bring most of the smaller ones inside b/c we were getting a hard rain. (Not complaining.) Now I can take them back outside for awhile. I feel like my plants have a mantra of sorts that goes, 'I'm your plant and I want to go out. I'm your plant and I want to come in. I'm your plant and I want to go back out.' and on and on.
I guess it would be good to give the clay pots a good scrubbing and use fresh pots when the little ones are ready to be potted up.

As always, thanks for your advice.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 10, 2016 7:22 PM CST
tx_flower_child said:Someone else asked about re-using soil, but I'd like to know about re-using pots. (Note the 's' on the end of that word.)
I'm not especially worried about my 'regular' garden plants. Most, but not all, have moved to a perennial bed. I'm more concerned about plants like epiphyllums and others that I guess might be called 'esoteric'.
For clay pots, should I use the old bleach trip on them or just rinse them out? Really the same question about plastic pots.
My concern is that I might unknowingly give a new plant the nasties.
Advice?Opinions?


I quit bothering with cleaning used pots years and years ago. I haven't seen any bad side effects with simply reusing them. I don't even bother with washing them out with plain water. I'm a bit more careful with the planting medium when I'm starting seeds, but not a lot. I think I could be described as a very careless, but often successful, gardener. I do fail, but I can't think of a time when the failure could be attributed to my not cleaning and disinfecting a container. I'm not advocating you do what I do, mind you. Just relating my own experience.

Donald
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Oct 10, 2016 8:49 PM CST
" I could be described as a very careless, but often successful, gardener. "

LOL, Donald -- that is a very good description of me, too!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 11, 2016 3:38 AM CST
Well, I feel better giving the pots and cell packs a clean start every year. Mostly thinking that it can't HURT to do it. And it gets me going for the new season.

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