Terracotta pots can make a statement in your garden, forming a focal point or centrepiece. They’re timeless and will suit any garden setting and complement any plant. The porous nature of the terracotta clay means you cannot easily overwater and the roots can breathe in the pots, making them ideal for healthy plants.
If you are new to gardening, it’s very easy to prepare your terracotta planter for potted plants and the growing season. Here’s what you need to know:
Firstly, it’s very important for the terracotta pots you purchase to be able to drain excess water from the bottom of the pot. All of Gardenesque’s terracotta garden pots have drainage holes that are essential for keeping your plant’s roots healthy and avoiding standing water or root rot.
Before planting anything new in a terracotta pot, you should pre-soak the pot. If you are planning some spectacular summer displays in new terracotta pots, soak the pots overnight in water before planting them. This is to ensure that the porous unglazed clay does not absorb water when you first plant.
We recommend that you do not overfill the pot with soil so that it expands with watering as this may lead to the pot cracking. Make sure it is large enough for the root system of the plant you’re planning to place inside it.
A warm summer will mean that your terracotta pots will require more maintenance. Frequent watering is essential to make sure that plants in containers grow well as they will need more water than those planted directly in the soil. Water in the evening or early morning when the temperature is at its coolest. We also recommend a balanced liquid feed be applied every week as summer is when the plants need the nutrients the most.
Adding a mulch to the surface after watering will help to lock in moisture and keep the water from the soil evaporating. It will also help to place a saucer underneath the pot to catch the water that would otherwise drain away.
If your containers are in full sun, moving plants to shady areas during the hottest hours of the day will help them over the warmer period.
Winter can be a hard time for plants and pots with cold weather, frost, and less sunlight. We recommend grouping several pots close to a wall for shelter. To protect your plants against the elements, place the hardiest on the outside and the less hardy in the centre. Doing, this greatly increases the mass and volume of insulation and protects the plants and containers from the cold and harsh winds.
We also advise investing in pot feet, which elevate the container off the ground. This ensures that any excess water can exit through the drainage holes and not expand when it freezes, which can also damage or crack the containers.
Larger pots that aren’t easily moved can be wrapped in hessian, fleece or bubble wrap to create a layer of insulation to prevent the root ball from freezing.
Cleaning terracotta pots
Knowing how to clean terracotta plant pots properly is a useful skill to keep your plants healthy or to prepare your pots for the next year. Cleaning your clay pots after use reduces the risk of pests and diseases becoming a problem when you next plant.
Start by emptying your pots of any old plants once they have died off and the compost they were planted in.
Using a stiff brush and clean water, remove any debris on the insides of the pot. Then mix a weak bleach solution with water to fill your pots with. We recommend one part bleach to nine parts water. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water or a solution of one part white vinegar to four or five parts hot water.
Place in a large receptacle to prevent the water from draining and allow the pots to soak for half an hour. This will remove any lingering bacteria that could affect your plants. Rinse the pots well, giving any stubborn stains a final scrub if necessary to clean the pot or any crusty buildup. Leave them somewhere sunny to air dry.
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