Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 5
    October 2010
   Winterizing Containers and Their Plants

  Wheelbarrow container
  An old wooden barrel makes an interesting plant container.

When it comes to container gardening, what you use as the container is limited only by your imagination. There are your standard garden pots, barrels and baskets, and your not-so-standard kitchen pots and pans, tires, wheelbarrows, old sinks and bathtubs, even shoes!

Most reusable commercial containers are made of plastic, terra cotta, stone, wood, metal or wire. All containers, regardless of material, require winter-storage preparations.

Bringing Containers Inside
Remove any weeds and dead plant material and empty the soil into the garden (unless you plan to reuse it — opinions vary as to whether or not you
should). Rinse the pot to remove large dirt clumps. Using a 10% bleach solution, hot water and a stiff brush, scrub the pot to remove any remaining dirt. Rinse and stack when dry.

Plastic pots can be left outside but they're less likely to be damaged in a garage or shed. Terra cotta and stone containers may crack if exposed to winter elements. They should be stored in a garage or shed, turned upside down to prevent them from filling with water, which will freeze, expand and may crack the pots.

Preparing Outside Containers
This is a delicate but manageable practice that is mainly restricted to plastic or stone containers. As stated above, terra cotta containers shouldn't be left outside in winter; however, if they're too large to bring inside, remove the soil and turn the pot upside down (if possible). If the pot is too heavy to turn over, wrap it with heavy plastic to guard against water entering and freezing. If soil is left in the container, ensure it's bone dry and covered.

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