Gardening: The Rich Brothers give tips on planting with pots
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Terracotta pots are a welcome addition to most gardens, but notoriously become covered in a white residue over time. The porosity of these clay containers offers many advantages for growing strong and healthy plants. Terracotta pots can absorb water, as well as minerals from the oil and chemicals in fertilisers. You must clean pots at the end of each season to prevent absorbed particles spreading to new plants, as well as fungus and mould.
How to clean terracotta pots
- Soft-bristled brush
- Stiff-bristled brush
- White vinegar or bleach
- Baking soda
You should begin cleaning your pot by removing the plants and any loose dirt from inside and outside the pot.
Use the soft brush to remove as much of the excess dirt as possible.
The dirt should come away easily, but some dirty parts may prove more difficult to clean with just a soft brush.
Therefore, you should use a stiff-bristled brush for the more stubborn dirt.
Use this brush gently back and forth across the surface of your pot.
Avoid using metal bristles as they can damage the surface of your pot and leave white marks in the clay.
The next part of the process involves soaking the terracotta pot in a large tub or sink.
You should create a white vinegar and water mixture by mixing with a 1:3 ratio.
You can also use bleach and water with two ounces of bleach to five gallons of water.
Leave the pots to soak in the water and vinegar in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes.
The terracotta pots should be completely submerged in the solution.
You may hear bubbles coming from the solution, which means the pots are being cleaned.
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After 20 to 30 minutes have passed, you should remove the pots from the liquid to check them.
When the pots are ready to come out, you should be able to remove any remaining debris with your hands or a brush.
If the residue does not come away easily you should let the pots soak for longer, ideally for around five to 10 minutes more.
Any terracotta pots which have really dirty rims can be soaked in pure vinegar for around 10 minutes.
Terracotta pots are porous which means liquids and small particles travel through the material when it is wet.
Water travelling through the pot carries with it sal and minerals from the salt, leaving salt marks on the pot.
A baking soda and water solution can help to remove salt stains.
To remove these stains, create a baking soda paste using water and baking soda and then spread the mixture over the pot, covering the stains completely.
Let the paste sit for around five to 10 minutes, during which time it will dry slightly.
After this time has passed, scrub the paste away using your hands or a brush.
You may need to rinse the pots to completely remove the paste, but once you have done this, the salt stains should disappear completely.
You can also clean a terracotta pot in the dishwasher to disinfect them.
To do this, you should set your dishwasher to its quickest wash setting using the amount of soap you would use for a small or medium load of dishes.
Let the dishwasher load run through a full cycle and then take your pots out to dry,
Leave your terracotta pots on a rack to dry completely or place them in the sun to dry completely.
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