what is the best way to store outdoor plant pots?

Sandy, UT

I live in central Utah where the temps get down around 0 during the coldest part of the winter season. What is the best way to store outdoor use terra cotta & glazed ceramic pots? They are all about 11 inch size. I have an unheated storage shed & unheated garage & a laundry room which is very warm as possible storage sites.

Should I leave the current potting soil in them or discard it? Should they be washed, etc? Please help, I am a neophyte gardener & am not sure what to do with my nice pots now the growing season is over here.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi Moondancer,

I would empty the containers and place the soil in a bin if it is reusable, or add to the compost bin if not. Even though we rarely get hard freezes of any duration here, I store my ceramic and terracotta containers where they will stay dry. I have found that for the most part the cold does minimal, if any, damage, but wet and cold can ruin them.

Personally I wait til Spring to wash them, I just wipe the excess soil out before storing them. I use newspaper to wrap them so they don't get chipped while stored. Then in the Spring, I wash them when I am ready to use them. I have a 5 gallon plastic bucket that I use to hold warm water, a few drops of dish soap and about 1/2 cup regular bleach. Wearing rubber gloves, I use a plastic mesh scrubber to clean each pot, and rinse them with the garden hose.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

As long as the soil in them is allowed to dry out, and so long as they are kept out of the wet (i.e. covered or in a shelter where they'll keep dry), they can be stored anywhere you like, even where freezing and thawing occur.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would go with themoon's method as by doing the other method (and I've done it myself to my expense) I lost many pots by NOT emptying them and a stiff brush removes any excess soil, (an old Barbi wire brush is just the ticket.
After you empty / clear the soil away, try use Bubble wrap to lay out and turn the pots upside down for a few days to dry them out, then store them either on there side, one inside the other and then placed inside a large BOX with straw, IF possible, or inside where there is no chance of damp.
Come spring, bring outside and don't fill pots for a few days, allow them to climatise over several days as IF you add lot's of water to bone dry pots, it can cause the clay to swell and crack just like the frost does in winter.

I find the winter prep quite relaxing and it let's you fix, discard or repair any pots that need attention.
Best of luck. WeeNel.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

I usually dump the contents of seasonal parts in a flower/garden bed and use fresh the next year. Storing pots upside-down is always a good idea, IMVHO, no matter what kind or where, for various reasons. I only wish I had some 'really nice ones' to worry about!

Sandy, UT

Thanks everyone for the information. I emptied the used potting soil out. I wiped them out with newspaper, let them dry for a week upside down until they seemed dry, & stored them wrapped & stacked together in my shed. We had an early, very wet spring this year, so I waited to unpack them. I let them acclimatize on my back porch for a week when we finally got some sunny weather, then washed them as suggested. They are all now filled with new plants which seem to be thriving.

Thanks again to all who answered.

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