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What to Do About Flower Pots That Accumulate Moss on the Outside?

Updated March 05, 2019

It's been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss, but a flower pot certainly can. Planting flowers, herbs and vegetables in pots adds visual interest to your landscape, but unless you want your pots to have a rustic and aged look, they require care and maintenance to stay clean and moss free.

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Cleaning Moss Off Pots

Removing the moss that has grown on the outside of your flower pots is not difficult. Use a paint scraper or spatula to scrape as much of the moss as possible off the sides of the pot. Create a solution of vinegar and water, or a diluted solution of one part bleach to nine parts water, to clean the pot. Rinse thoroughly and allow the pot to dry.

Moss Inside the Pot

If the moss has grown inside the pot as well, you can get rid of it by removing and replacing the soil and improving the drainage in the pot. Carefully remove the plant from the pot, discard the soil and clean the inside of the pot with the vinegar and water solution to remove all of the moss and any mould or bacteria. Because moss thrives in wet soil, be sure that the pot has adequate drainage before replacing the soil. Make sure the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot are large enough, and add more if necessary. Add a layer of river rock to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage as well. Replace the soil and the plant.

Be careful not to overwater the plant, and do not allow the soil to become too wet to prevent the moss from returning. This will also help the moss from growing on the outside of the pot, as clay pots tend to absorb water and stay moist, which encourages moss growth.

Preventing Moss Growth

Once you have removed the moss from the outside of the pot, prevent it from returning by keeping the pot dry. Water the plant only when necessary, and make sure that the pot is well-drained and not placed in an area with a lot of standing water or poor drainage. Because moss tends to grow in shaded areas, you may need to move your pot to an area that receives more sunlight. Receiving more light will allow the pot to dry and prevent moss from accumulating.

Maintaining Moss Covered Pots

If you cannot move the pot to another location, or you cannot keep the moss from growing on the pot, leaving the moss on the pot is a viable option. In fact, allowing moss to accumulate on the pots gives them an aged and natural appearance that many gardeners find attractive. Some gardeners even apply faux finishes to mimic the look of moss or purposely try to encourage moss growth on their pots to enhance their landscape. Unless the moss is preventing your plants from thriving, a little growth on the pots will not hurt anything.

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About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

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