Disposing of soil

Asked June 30, 2020, 11:46 AM EDT

I recently disposed of potted petunias that were infested with thrips. The plants were placed in a plastic bag and put in the garbage. However, I have some other plants that need to be repotted and would like to reuse the pot. How do I clean the pot and what is the best way to dispose of the soil in that pot?

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

If you have a private yard, the soil can simply be added to a compost pile, disposed of in the yard by spreading it over an unused area, or scattered in the woods or a field if such an area is part of your property. If you have no such spaces or live in a home with no yard, the soil can simply be discarded like the plants were. Thrips pupate in the soil, so unfortunately it would be risky to re-use (and sterilizing it in the oven is probably not practical). As a common pest, however, scattering any soil-borne thrips outdoors would not be a major detriment to anything.

A simple inside and outside scrub-down with soapy water, then rinsed, is sufficient to clean the pot. Some people use a dedicated scrub brush, sponge, or bristle-brush to clean plant pots (or any non-food items) so there is no risk of contaminating a kitchen item with soil microbes. If you were concerned about plant disease, you could treat it with a spray of ready-to-spray bleach, but this is probably not necessary.