The Way to Kill Bacteria in Terra-Cotta Flowerpots

The Way to Kill Bacteria in Terra-Cotta Flowerpots

Most anglers have a stash of terra-cotta flowerpots somewhere in the garage or drop — but until you use those pots a second or possibly a third, fourth or fifth time round, it’s important to sterilize them. Last season’s plants might have been contaminated with any number of strains of harmful bacteria or parasites. And with the porous nature of terra-cotta, there’s lots of space for those pathogens to pay in. Do not skip this step, or you may find your plants are not as vigorous as you would want them to be.

Fill a large, clean bathtub, garbage can or bucket with 1 part liquid bleach to ten parts water. This 10-to-1 ratio is the standard ratio for sterilizing garden materials, and it will work for garden tools, planters and other growing materials as well. Some people prefer a 9-to-1 alternative — but either should do just fine.

Place the terra-cotta pots to the vessel that’s full of all the bleach solution, allowing each pot to be completely immersed. Take care as you add pots to the vessel; they are fairly breakable.

Allow the pots to sit at the solution for at least four weeks, or even overnight.

Remove a kettle in the bathtub, and then wash the interior with a fresh kitchen scrubber or any type of abrasive pad. When the interior is clean and free of debris, dip it back in the bathtub for a final bleach rinse. Repeat that scrubbing procedure for every one your pots.

Spray the pots using a hose to wash off any residual bleach.

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