Old plant pots pilled up together.

How to Take Care of Plant Containers

Containers should last for many years, provided they are well cared for and not damaged in any way. If they have been used before, it is important to clean them thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease.

Preparing and maintaining containers

New clay pots should be soaked in water for at least an hour before use, so that they do not draw mois­ture away from the soil. However, as they age, they gain an attractive outer coating of green moss, which blends the pots into the greenery around them.

“Use a dry, stiff brush to get rid of loose soil and old roots. Scrub the pot in warm, soapy water to make sure that it is thoroughly clean.

It is not necessary to remove this when the pot is cleaned, but it is important to clean the inside. Metal containers should be lined with plastic to pre­vent their minerals contaminating the growing medium. Wooden containers can also be lined with plastic to stop the wood rotting. In each case, holes need to be made in the base to allow drainage.

Care of heavy containers

If you have the space, a large container adds impact and interest, but it presents its own set of problems if it needs to be moved.

Although few indoor plants should have a problem with low temperatures during the winter, those in an unheated conservatory or sunroom, or on a porch, may feel the cold. The result of exposure to low temperatures varies according to how cold the plant becomes, and for how long, but at its extreme, cold kills the plant.

“Heavy containers can be moved using pieces of metal pipe as rollers under a board Move the board by taking the front roller to the back. Repeat this action.”

A small electric space heater is one way of keeping the temperature above freezing if the plants cannot be brought indoors. Alternatively, plastic bubble wrap or burlap can be tied around both the plant and its container as temporary protection during very low temperatures, but it will need to be removed as soon as feasible, or the plant will suffer from lack of light and air.

Repositioning a large container presents its own set of problems because once it is planted and watered, it can weigh a great deal. Even a medium-size container can weigh up to 20 lb. (9 kg) when moistened, and this amount of weight can cause injury if not handled properly. The easiest way to move a heavy pot is to maneuver it onto a board and then use metal pipes as rollers underneath. Lighter pots can be moved by dragging them on a piece of burlap.