Large terra cotta pots have been used for millennia all over the world as a way of improving the aesthetics of the surroundings of buildings. Many different types of vegetation can be put into large terra cotta pots and will grow successfully. This is due to the natural porosity of the walls of the planters. This lets excess water escape from the pot, which prevents over-watering, as well as allowing air to circulate, providing the roots of the plant with oxygen. These two features of large terra cotta pots make them a good choice for novice gardeners all the way through to the experts.
One of the things to note about large terra cotta pots is that they are not all the same. Clearly they vary in size and design, but the quality is also a big variable to consider. The highest quality large terra cotta pots will be hand-turned by expert craftsmen, using only the finest and most refined clay as raw material. These will be fired at high temperatures which produce a solid and durable product. Lower-quality examples of large terra cotta pots are made by molding in factories, using coarser raw materials which are fired at lower temperatures.
It can be difficult to judge on face value whether a large terra cotta planter is of high or low quality, but there is a test that can be done to help. Rapping on the side of a large terra cotta planter with your knuckle, listen for the noise the pot makes. If it is more of a high-pitched ring, it is likely that the pot was fired at a high temperature and is therefore more durable and worth more money. A duller ‘thud’ indicates a lower firing temperature and a large terra cotta planter that is likely to suffer damage very quickly when used outdoors.
Taking care of large terra cotta pots can mean the difference between the pots lasting for a few years or a few decades. Buying high quality pots will extend the life of the pot but also require a hefty investment of cash to start off with. A proper maintenance regime can extend the life of a lower-quality pot to match that of its more expensive counterparts, but this must be done meticulously every year. A care routine for large terra cotta pots should be performed just before winter arrives and should consist of two main stages – cleaning and winterization.
Cleaning large terra cotter pots can be a very easy process, depending on what facilities you have available. First of all, you should remove any loose detritus from the inside and outside of your pots using a scrubber or stiff brush. After this, you need to clean the pot. This can be done by heating it in an oven or bleaching it thoroughly. Winterization should follow. This is best performed by storing them inside a garage or shed, upside down and not stacked. With large terra cotta pots, you may not be able to do this, so wrapping the pots in bubble wrap can provide a suitable alternative.