Terracotta pots, I love them! Back in the day, you used to see them everywhere. My mum had loads of them in the garden – now they’ve gone through a period of not being that popular, they’re all the rage again. Over here it’s not just the garden that is filled with these beautiful pots, I also have loads of them inside. “Terra Cotta” is Italian and literally means “baked earth”. The pots do have their cons, but I think they’re perfect for houseplants.
The history of terracotta in the Italian town Impruneta
About two years ago I really fell in love with terracotta. I was on a road trip through beautiful Tuscany and saw terracotta pots and other objects with this material literally everywhere. Which is not that crazy, since terracotta originates in Tuscany. It’s originally from a little town called Impruneta, near Florence. I sadly did not visit the town – hopefully in the future – but they have been making terracotta pots over here for about 3000 years! It were the Etrusks in Impruneta that started using this porous material. They found out terracotta is perfect to make all sorts of objects with like jugs and pots. The Romans later continued this and ever since then terracotta has been really popular. Most terracotta pots still come from Italy. Just go to a local garden centre; you’ll find that most pots have the words “made in Italia” on them.
The benefits of terracotta for your houseplants
While the opinions on this are divided, I’m a big fan of using terracotta pots for my houseplants. I think about half of them – if not more – of my plants are planted in terracotta. And I have my reasons…
- Terracotta pots have a drainage hole. Excess water can easily flow out on the saucer that comes with the pot. This makes the chances of getting root rot a lot slimmer. And it will also become harder to overwater your plants. Personally I also sometimes like to bottom water my plants. I then just pour a little bit of water on the saucer and let the plant suck it up.
- They are available in lots of different sizes ánd they’re quite cheap. It has probably happened to you once or twice that after a nice afternoon of plant shopping you got a not so nice surprise at the register upon hearing the amount you needed to pay. Those plants were cheap right? Well, most of the time the pots are more expensive as opposed to the plants. Terracotta is a great option in that sense; they’re cheap and come in so many sizes. From mini to really big.
- They just look really good! I love the warm colour of the pots and the ambiance they give. And they just look good with any plant. Besides, you can always pimp them with a bit of paint if you really want to.
The cons of terracotta
Terracotta also has some cons, but in my opinion, the advantages way them out. But that’s different for anyone I guess.
- Terracotta is unglazed pottery from red-fired clay. This material is very porous, which means the pot itself also absolves water. It kind off works like a sponge. Obviously, you want the water to go to your plants and not to the pot. An easy trick to help with this is to put your terracotta pots in a bucket filled with water and let them suck in the water for a while before you first use them.
- Because terracotta is so porous, it does mean that your plants will dry out quicker than plants in other kinds of pots. It differs per plant if this is a pro or a con. With plants like Calathea’s, that like to be moist, it can be a con. But with other plants, it can actually be nice. For example cacti and succulents. You can put all plants in terracotta, you’ll just have to water most of them more often.
- After a while, you’ll notice your pots will start to look different. The colour will get a little darker and you’ll get calcium deposits on them. Now I don’t personally think this is a con, because I kind of like that weathered/vintage look. But I can totally understand some people don’t. Luckily you can easily clean them with a bit of vinegar.