Best Practices for Clean Containers

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Nursery - view of planted pots

Weed-free nursery containers start from the ground up with the focus on prevention. The key to a successful weed management program is a strict sanitation regimen that combines cultural practices and effective use of herbicides. To prevent weed seeds from germinating and contaminating containers, follow these best management practices for clean container production:

Keep Nonproduction Areas Clean

Maintaining weed-free noncropland areas is one of the most effective sanitary practices. To drastically reduce weed seed from infesting production areas, control weeds growing along the edges of fields, roadways and drainage ditches.

Control Weeds Under Containers

Weeds between containers are a source of weed seed. And windborne weed seeds, such as bittercress and oxalis, can project seed several feet. Start with a clean foundation.

  • Between crops, when production beds are empty, eliminate any existing weeds. Depending on weed pressure, this can be done culturally or with a postemergence herbicide.
  • Remove any debris from plants and spilled bark or soil where weeds can establish.
  • Install fresh gravel or new weed fabric if there are holes and gaps in coverage.
  • Apply preemergence herbicides directly on the gravel to prevent any weed seeds from germinating. Preemergence herbicides, such as Dimension® and Gallery® specialty herbicides, form a chemical barrier over the surface.
  • To ensure uniform coverage with no gaps, always apply the herbicide at the rate specified on the label. Minimize equipment and foot traffic to the area to avoid disrupting the chemical barrier.

Start with Clean Liners

Weed seeds are often small and cling to the side of containers. Use clean pots or containers to reduce the number of weeds in your nursery. Wash propagated pots and liners inside and out with pressurized water to remove seeds. Starting with weed-free liners is critical. A single escape of one bittercress plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds!

Apply Preemergence Herbicide

The final step to prevent weeds from contaminating containers is to apply a preemergence herbicide, such as Snapshot® specialty herbicide, to the surface of weed-free container media. Once activated with 0.5 inch of irrigation, a chemical barrier at the surface prevents any weed seeds from germinating and competing for vital nutrients. With weeds out of the way, Snapshot specialty herbicide will help foster the development of beautiful, thriving plants.


Weed control in container nursery production starts with prevention. Learn more about effective weed control at

State restrictions on the sale and use of Dimension and Snapshot specialty herbicide products apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions.


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