There are many reasons landscape architects love terracotta pots. They are incredibly durable and versatile, capable of fulfilling numerous purposes and housing plants of all varieties. However, as amazing as these ceramics may be, they still require care and maintenance to ensure your terracotta pots last as long as possible. Here are a few care tips for maintaining your pots for years to come.

Preventing Weather Related Cracking

The source of weather related cracking in terracotta pots is collected water that turns into ice. If ice is able to form inside the pot, the volume expands. This can cause any pot to crack. Making sure the drainage hole stays open allowing water to flow freely out of the pot helps resolve this problem. This prevents water from collecting inside the vessel which in turn will prevent the possibility of ice forming inside the pot as the temperatures drop below freezing. We also recommend raising the base of pot off the ground a couple of inches. This allows water to flow freely from the drainage hole. We do this by putting four terracotta feet underneath the base of our terracotta pots. The extra elevation prevents the drainage hole from forming a blockage at the exterior of the pot’s base.

Antique Terracotta Pots
New Terracotta Pots
An antique Italian terracotta pot that has accumulated plant growth on its exterior. This aesthetic of aged terracotta is one that many people consider distinguished and desirable.
Three newer large terracotta vases. This is how terracotta pots look when they’re brand new. This aesthetic can be maintained simply by regularly cleaning the pot (see below for details).

Maintaining a Worn & Aged Aesthetic

From time to time, customers ask, “How should I maintain the appearance of my pots?” Some folks prefer to maintain a worn and antique aesthetic. As terracotta pots they will naturally begin to grow algae on their exterior. Most Italians consider this part of their charm. For folks wanting to speed up this process you can place a thin coat of yogurt or buttermilk on the exterior of the pot. This will accelerate plant growth on the surfaces where the material has been applied. If you want your pots to have this antique appearance, we advise against ever cleaning the exterior of the terracotta.

Maintaining a Like New Appearance

Some customers ask, “How can I keep the exterior of my terracotta looking new and clean?” For folks wishing to maintain a clean aesthetic, we recommend pressure washing the exterior of your terracotta pots to remove any unwanted growth or accumulation. If you don’t have a pressure washer, warm water and a coarse haired, synthetic- bristled brush will do the trick. We strongly advise against using chemicals to clean the exterior as this can accidentally result in an uneven or splotchy appearance.

If you’d like to know more about terracotta pots and their care, contact us.