Have a new plant baby? Looking for the perfect pot? Overwhelmed by the hundreds of options of pots? I’ve been there. That’s why I keep going back to a classic – terracotta pots!
Are you looking to use indoor terracotta pots for your next plant? There a few things you need to know to use them the best way possible.
One thing to know is terracotta pots are made from baked clay. “Terracotta” translates to “cooked earth” in Italian. Pretty cool, right?
The red/orange coloring comes from the the iron content in the clay that reacts with oxygen. Pretty soon you’re going to be pro at all things terracotta and wow your friends with all these facts. 😉
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Terracotta pots are the best. They’re super inexpensive. They’re timeless. They can also be easily painted and personalized (like on this DIY personalized pot post).
And I adore how they’re super on trend right now! I’ve used them as a tablescape for a home I helped style and they go so well with macrame plant hangers (find a simple macrame plant hanger DIY here). They go so well with natural wood, white rooms and macrame everything!
Terracotta Pots Pros
Terracotta pots have a lot of pros. They’re great for plants because they’re porous and allow air and water to flow through them. This helps prevent root rot or soil disease which could kill your plants. They can be used both indoors and outdoor – great for a place like Minnesota, where I live!
They have drainage holes on the bottom and typically come with matching saucers which also helps water to flow through and prevent soggy soil. The drainage hole helps your plant not retain too much water, so they’re a good idea for plants prone to root rot!
They’re also inexpensive. You can keep costs low when adding plants to your home by getting terracotta pots! You can get an 8.5-inch pot from Home Depot for just $4.98 or six 5.5-inch pots from Amazon for around $25.
Plus, they’re timeless. Terracotta garden pots go with everything and if you decide you’re over the color, they can be painted!
They can be used indoors or outdoors. This is especially helpful for plants that you leave outside during warm months and take inside during colder months.
Terracotta Pot Cons
There are a few issues that come with using terracotta pots, but not many!
First up, they can crack from the cold (or being mishandled). You need to be gentle when using terra cotta pots, especially when you’re moving them to different locations or handling them in the cold.
They can require more frequent watering than in other non-porous pots. Like mentioned above, terracotta pots are made from baked clay. This makes it super easy for water to pass through the pot which helps with things like preventing root rot, but it will often time mean you need to water your plant more.
I’ve been using terracotta pots for years and have learned a few tricks on how to best use them. Do these three terracotta tricks for your next plant baby!
3 Tips When Using Terracotta Pots
Tip 1: Soak your pot!
The number one rule of thumb when using terracotta pots is to soak them prior to use them! These pots are made out of clay so doing this will prevent the pot from stealing of your plants precious water.
How long do you need to soak your terracotta pots?
Fill up a sink and soak them overnight or at least for 30 minutes prior to potting them.
Side note: It’s also great entertainment for toddlers. 😉 I love getting our kids involved in the planting process. I’ve done everything from soaking pots to propagating pothos plants to potting new plant babies with our kids. Now they can’t wait when I come home with a new plant to learn about!
Tip 2: Use a coffee filter.
No, this tip isn’t just because I love my coffee. 😉 Terracotta pots typically have drainage holes in the bottom. By putting a coffee filter in the pot, you’ll keep the soil in the pot but allow the water to still drain.
Don’t worry if your pot is still wet from soaking it. (My toddler was very concerned about that when I put the coffee filter in – ha!)
Simply press the coffee filter into the bottom and against the sides. When you add soil try to keep the soil from falling in between the filter and the pot but it’s ok if a little bit slips in.
Tip 3: Use a plastic saucer for under your pot.
Because the saucer that you get with your pot is also made out of clay, there’s a good chance it will ruin your floor or wood table/dresser/etc. when you water it.
Save your home and put a plastic saucer like these from Amazon underneath your pot! It doesn’t necessarily need to be plastic but something that will go in between your pot and carpet or wood.
And that’s it! Super simple things that will make a huge difference the next time you use a terracotta pot.
How to Clean Terracotta Pots
You may notice that after you’ve been using your pot for a long time, it will develop a crusty buildup or powdery white residue. The pots will start to absorb the minerals in the soil and will tarnish the pots with these mineral deposits.
Terracotta pots are also prone to growing white mold or a powdery mildew since the clay material absorbs so much liquid.
But they’re actually super easy to clean with just a little bit of elbow grease!
The first step: you’ll want to remove the plants from your dirty pots. The easiest way to get all the loose dirt out is to let it dry before scraping it out. Use a stiff wire brush or steel wool to scrape away all of the dry dirt and get the pot fully cleaned out.
Your next step is to soak it in a vinegar solution! This will help to not only clean but also disinfect it, which is vital if you’ll be using the pot for new plants. Use a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts warm water.
That should take away all of the white stuff and scum on the pot! If there’s still a bit left, you can use a baking soda and water solution to finish up the cleaning.
The final step is soaking it in bleach. Bleach can be damaging to terracotta pots so use it sparingly! Use a ratio of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Soaking it in this bleach solution will remove any fungus that could possibly be lingering on your clean pots.
You can help prevent the crusty white residue by changing the type of water and fertilizer you use. Rainwater or distilled water won’t have the minerals that tap water has, so it’s better for your terracotta pots. Similarly, organic fertilizers are better than chemical fertilizers.
Terracotta vs. Ceramic Pots
I love both terracotta and ceramic pots, but it definitely depends on which plant I’m using it for. Terracotta absorbs water from the soil, drying the soil out faster, but ceramic’s glaze means the soil stays much wetter. Terracotta pots also have drainage holes, and some ceramic pots do not.
That means terra-cotta pots are best for plants that need good drainage and like soil to dry out a fair amount before being watered. Succulents, cacti, Monstera, snake plants and ficus are just a few examples of plants that love terracotta planters.
Ceramic planters work well for water-loving plants, the kind that don’t mind if their roots sit in wet soil. Spider plants, pothos, and ferns are some of the plants that are perfect for ceramic pots.
There’s a lot more variety in color and look of ceramic pots than terracotta, so if you’re choosing one for a plant that could thrive in either, ceramic might fit your style better.
Best Terracotta Pots
The best terracotta pots are the ones that fit your budget, plants and style, so don’t feel like you have to spend a ton on a fancy planter. Here are three stylish planter options to get you started!
Yes, the porosity of terracotta is great for plants that need good drainage and are prone to root rot. It’s also a good option for plants that need to be brought inside in cold weather because terracotta can be used inside and outside.
Terracotta is ideal for plants that do poorly in very moist soil, like succulents, cacti, snake plants, monstera, ficus, philodendron and more. If you’re considering a plant, look at the care instructions; if it prefers dry soil, terracotta is probably a good choice.
Terracotta is not waterproof. It’s porous and absorbent, so it will take in water that you pour into the soil. This is also why I recommend a plastic saucer instead of a terracotta saucer. The terracotta saucer will still allow water to slowly leak onto the surface below it.
This depends on the type of plant and the size of your pot! Smaller terracotta plants might dry out too fast for your small plant that is still getting established. You have to be more vigilant with watering (or at least checking the soil) when you’re getting used to terracotta or your plants are young.
What’s your favorite kind of plant to have in your house?
Be sure to check out what the 7 best plants for air purification are or some of my favorite plant stands so you can add more plants to your home! Or if you’re in the mood for a DIY, make a macrame plant hanger for your pot!
Thanks for reading!