Best Management Practices for Producing Clean Nursery Stock

3. Clean containers

Objective: Use clean containers to eliminate these as a potential source of pathogens

What you need to know:  Remnant soil in used pots can contain Phytophthora spores and introduce Phytophthora species into the nursery.  Clean pots can become contaminated through improper storage and poor sanitation practices.

Best practices:

3.1. Use only new or cleaned and sanitized pots/flats/containers in the nursery.

3.2. Do not allow your clean containers (new or sanitized) to become contaminated. 
  - Store containers off the ground on clean racks or shelves out of reach of splashing water or in covered bins. 
  - Never place clean containers on the ground, in water, or on other potentially contaminated surfaces. 

3.3. Assume that used pots and flats are contaminated.  Don’t store dirty containers in or near clean areas of the nursery and don’t let them accumulate.  Clean or dispose of them promptly.  Keep used pots and flats in a bin or enclosed area outside of clean nursery area where the contamination can be contained and cleaned up. 

3.4. Used pots/flats must be cleaned of old potting media and plant material and sanitized using heat or disinfectants (see Phytosanitary Procedures for BMPs for Producing Clean Nursery Stock).  The container cleaning area should not be in the clean area of the nursery (see “Nursery design, layout, and work flow” below).

3.5. Use the smallest size containers possible to minimize expenditures related to cleaning and sanitizing used containers. 

3.6. Plant stakes, irrigation emitters and lines, descriptive signs, etc., that are placed on, over, or in pots should be new or sanitized.

3.7. Bins for holding heat-treated potting media should be sanitized before refilling.