Terra Cotta Pottery
We grew up with these orange/red clay pots and over the years they were overlooked and seemed to fall out of style. They’ve cycled back around again and are trending strongly with all age groups.
Clay rich in iron is baked to form the pots, the iron content is what produces the orange/red color.
Terracotta means “cooked earth” in Italian which is very fitting.
Terracotta pottery dates back thousands of years BC. The clay is thick and malleable and perfect for both sculpture and pots, even roof tiles and bricks. It also is one of the least expensive of clays.
People are using terracotta pottery for decorating in their homes and pairing them with natural wood, macrame and a variety of colors in collections on shelves, tables, window sills, and walls. Placing terracotta against a white background creates a perfect display.
Terracotta pots are good for plants requiring well drained soil (succulents, cacti, philodendron, snake plants) . Since the clay is porous it will absorb water from the soil unlike glazed ceramic pots that hold moisture in the dirt. More thirsty plants will require more frequent watering when planted in a terracotta pot.
Since these pots do absorb water always use a plastic saucer underneath the pot or the terracotta saucer to prevent water from passing through to your floor surface.
The porosity of the clay allows salts and minerals from water and fertilizer to pass through the pot to the outside which can cause a white salt deposit or green/black algae to form on the pot. You can clean the pot by soaking it in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water – make sure to remove the plant first. It usually takes a bit of scrubbing to remove stubborn spots after a 30 minute soak. Some suggest an overnight soak for pots with a heavy buildup. Once clean the pot is ready for replanting.
Terracotta pots can sometimes crack when left outside during freezing temperatures in the winter. The moisture within the pot becomes trapped and expands as it freezes which can cause the pot to crack. As a safeguard, move outside plants into a garage or shed when long periods of below freezing temperatures are expected (you are probably doing this already to save the plants from freeze damage). Place large pots on rolling plant dollies to make this job easier.
A good practice is in fall empty all terracotta pots of plants that will not survive during the winter. Store your pots in the garage making sure they are not exposed to water. Re-plant them next spring and enjoy the timeless look terracotta brings to your home and garden.