Preparing Plant Containers for Container Gardening

Take some time to prepare your containers before planting. Doing so will extend the life of your containers and protect your plants from disease.

Clay and plastic pots can crack or chip in cold weather.
Clay and plastic pots can crack or chip in cold weather.


  • Put clay and plastic pots in the garage before cold winter weather arrives. This will help keep them from cracking and chipping when the weather turns bitterly cold.

  • Wrap heavy urns and pots that are too bulky to carry indoors in plastic for winter protection. Do this on a dry autumn day, securing the plastic across the top, bottom, and sides of the pots to prevent moisture from getting inside. Moisture expands when it freezes. This causes terra-cotta, ceramic, and even synthetic stone and concrete containers to chip and break.

  • Store pots under tarp for protection in mild climates. This will save space in your garage or basement and keep the pots handy for when you need them in the spring.

  • Sterilize old pots with a 10 percent bleach solution before using them for other plants. Saving old pots from flowers, vegetables, poinsettias, even shrubs transplanted into the yard is a great way to economize. But you have to be certain to eliminate any disease spores that may have come, like extra baggage, with the previous occupant.

    Begin by washing out excess soil, bits of roots, and other debris with warm soapy water. Mix 1 part household bleach with 9 parts water and use the solution to wipe out the pot. Rinse again, and the pot is ready to plant.

On the next page, learn how to prepare potting soil for your container garden.

Want more gardening tips? Try visiting these links:
  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.