A container garden
image by S.F. Heron
Potting soil breaks down and loses nutrients every time a potted plant is watered. You should replace most if not all of the soil in every planter each season. Proper care of your garden pots will help the containers last for a long time, and it will improve the health of every plant you pot.
Pull any seedpods from your plants that you'd like to save for the following year. Remove all dead plants from the garden pots and place them in the compost pile or a recycling bag for curbside pickup.
Dump the used potting soil into your compost pile or in an unused garden area. Scrape the remainder of the soil out of the pot using a trowel.
Rinse the inside and outside of the pot until no soil remains. If necessary, use a scrub brush. Cleaning the inside of the pot thoroughly is especially important for ceramic pots or terra-cotta pots. Potting soil causes decomposition of clay pots and the material will crumble over time. Proper care of plastic pots helps prevent the brittleness that occurs after exposure to a wide variety of temperatures.
Scrape off any white deposits lining the inside rim of the pot with the trowel or scrub brush, making sure not to damage the pot. These mineral deposits occur naturally as a result of watering.
Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and 2 cups of white vinegar. Place the pots into the solution and soak them for one to two hours. Remove the pots and rinse them thoroughly.
Place the pots upside down in a protected area and allow them to dry completely.
Store the pots over the winter out of the elements, preferably in a garage or shed, to help extend the life of the containers.