A good gardener always stores their pots and gardening implements away for the winter to help prevent them from weathering. This is especially true of clay pots, which can soak up water, then freeze and crack in winter. Since a stout or large clay pot can be a pricey investment and a staple of any patio garden, you want to ensure that your pots don't sustain any damage.

As the cold, winter days start to warm up and lengthen and a gardener's mind is filled with plans about the upcoming planting season, here are some tips for getting your outdoor clay pots ready for spring planting:

Inspection And Cleaning

Carefully set out all of your clay pots and clean them or dust them off if necessary. Manually inspect the sides, bottom and rim for chips or cracks. If you do find any cracks that could compromise the strength of the pot, you can use an epoxy glue and cardboard to repair the crack.

If you notice any mildew or mold on the pots, use a household cleaner that contains a mild solution of bleach and scrub off the mildew and rinse the pot.

Remove any wasp nests, leaves, debris or leftover dirt from the pots and brush them down.


Once the pots are inspected and cleaned, you will need to soak your clay pots overnight in water so that they can re-hydrate. A dry clay pot will soak up any water from the potting soil, thus robbing your plant of the water it needs. Even a glazed clay pot can be somewhat porous, but an unglazed pot will soak up the water like a sponge.

When you hydrate the clay pots well by letting them soak overnight, they won't draw as much from the soil when you add your plants.

Prepping For Planting

If you have large pots that will be sitting directly atop a hard patio surface such as concrete, tile or stone, you may want to add an additional layer of protection for the pot. You can glue small pieces (or one solid piece) of thick fabric onto the bottom of the pot to add cushioning. Simply ensure that all the pieces are the same thickness and will allow for stability and you may be able to keep your clay pot from getting cracked on the bottom during the summer.

Use these tips every spring and you will be able to extend the lifespan of your clay pots. To learn more, contact a company like Bob Williams Nursery Inc. with any questions or concerns you have.