Gardening Trick That Works: Removing White Deposits From Terra-cotta Pots

Posted by on April 15, 2014

Calciium on terracotta potsTo everyone who knows me, you may find it odd that I’m writing about how to remove the white buildup found on terra-cotta pots.

I like patina–the more the better. I tend toward the old, the tattered, and one many occasions, the trashed.  I anxiously wait for the orange of my new terra-cotta pots to become mottled with white mineral deposits. The white deposits are calcium and other minerals found in our public or well-water water, and in fertilizers. Clay wicks from the contents inside and this causes the calcium and other mineral deposits to accumulate on the outside. The white discoloration will not harm pot or plant.

For those that do not like the look, it’s easy enough to remove. Combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water in a stray bottle. Spray and scrub the pot with a brush. Your deposits will dissolve. Rinse and let your pot dry before planting.


Mineral deposits on Terra-cotta pots


Helen Yoest

Helen Yoest is a curious gardener – curious about plants, soil, design, and how others use these to create their gardens at home. She is also curious about what plants do for us today in the here and now, but also about their history and lore. Plants have a colorful past.

As an award winning freelance writer and garden stylist, Helen has traveled the world visiting public and private gardens so she can step into the dream that was once just an imagination. Her work has appeared in Country Gardens, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Carolina Gardener, and many others, including her work as the national gardening expert Helen is also the author of Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, & Veggies in Your Garden (2014, St. Lynn’s Press) and Gardening with Confidence, 50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity (2012, GWC Press).

Helen curates garden art, serves on the board of the JC Raulston Arboretum, is past Regional Representative of the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour and opens her garden annually, and is an honorary member of Pi Alpha Xi, the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. Helen lives in Raleigh, N.C., tending to her half-acre wildlife habitat, her husband, and their three beautiful children.

Visit Helen at her popular blog, Gardening With Confidence and at Plants with Benefits. Find Helen on Facebook, too.

One response to “Gardening Trick That Works: Removing White Deposits From Terra-cotta Pots”

  1. Mary Gleinser says:

    Thank you, Helen! For this viewpoint. I was actually going to spend some valuable time cleaning pots. How silly! And I appreciate the fact that you are a curious gardener, I can identify! Blessings to you! Mary

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