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New Life for Old Terra-cotta Pots

A while ago, one of my neighbors gifted me with several terra-cotta pots. These are large, beautiful ceramic flower pots. But they are in need of some love.

Terracotta PotAs you can see from the image, the pots have been left out in our wet Portland winters. As a result they are dirty and moldy. I’ve been doing Internet research on the best way to clean terra-cotta. The advice is all over the place, and includes baking soda, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and chlorine bleach.

After a fair amount of procrastination, I decided to use a different cleaning method on each of the pots. First up…chlorine bleach. Ok, I know it’s not the most environmentally-friendly substance. But, in my defense, that is some might serious mold on that pot. I did dilute the bleach with water using a 1:10 ratio. And I will tell you that it still took some serious elbow grease to get the mold off of that first pot.

After the pot was clean, I was shocked at the bleach smell. At this point, I was concerned that residual chlorine was permanently embedded in the clay. So I really took the time to rinse the pot thoroughly several times over several days. The result? Well you can see the result in the next photo.

Terra-cotta flower pot after cleaningHere’s the totally cleaned, rehabbed terra-cotta flower pot. Before I planted anything in the pot I went through the extra step of lining it with landscaping fabric. Personally, I’ve discovered that landscaping fabric is the best way to keep the soil in a flower pot. I also thought that it would provide an extra little barrier between the any remaining chlorine and the plant roots. So far, so good. That’s a tomatillo plant (it’s the Mexican strain of tomatillo, for those of you who are interested), thriving in my recycled flower pot!

Has anyone out there found a better way to clean terra-cotta? I’m going to try hydrogen peroxide next…or maybe the baking soda. In the meantime, I’m open to any suggestions you may have. Send your methods for cleaning terra-cotta to the Plug and Play Gardens email account!