hardland
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Terracotta pots, do they just look nice?

Terracotta pots, do they just look nice? I say this because they seem to be the worst material for a container. Any soil mix I try, seem to just crust up in Terracotta...
Hey there Mister,
Can you tell me what happened to the seeds iv'e sown,
can you give me a reason sir, as to why they've never grown,

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Kisal
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I like terra cotta, but I only use it for my cacti, or other plants that need drier soil around the roots. Mostly, I just use plastic nursery pots. I drop them inside decorative ceramic pots when I want them to be prettied up. :)

I'm not sure what you mean when you say the soil "crusts up." If you mean the surface of the soil dries and forms a crust, then your mixture isn't balanced correctly. A good soil mix will be crumbly when dry, but the particles shouldn't clump together to form a crust. Too much peat moss can do that. Too much clay soil can also do it.
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StorageSmart2
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I've found that terra cotta planters tend to end up with drier soil than plastic plants given the same amount of water sitting right next to them. I think that the terra cotta is supposed to allow more moisture to leak out, but I'm not sure.

I don't usually use terra cotta plants, because most of my plants go from nursery plastic to ground, but I do have one or two terra cotta house planters. I haven't had any trouble with the soil forming a "crust". It just gets very loose on top when it's all dried out, like I could blow on it and have half of the dirt in the pot fly up.

a0c8c
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Terracotta pots, and any other unglazed pot, will suck moisture from the soil. Tray watering prevents this as the pot will absorb it's own water. Glazed pots won't do the same as the glaze acts as a barrrier. I wouldn't recommend terracotta pots for plants that like alot of water.
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garden5
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a0c8c wrote:Terracotta pots, and any other unglazed pot, will suck moisture from the soil. Tray watering prevents this as the pot will absorb it's own water. Glazed pots won't do the same as the glaze acts as a barrrier. I wouldn't recommend terracotta pots for plants that like alot of water.
I think that this is because (correct me if I'm wrong) the pots are very porous. I know that if you go fishing, you can take broken pieces of a terracotta pot and put it in with your minnows to help oxygenate the water.
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gixxerific
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They will work but they are better in shaded areas or as Kisal said for plants that like it drier. G5 was right in saying they are porous and that is why they dry out so fast. they literally suck the water out of your soil. But if you can keep up with the watering they can be viable. Container gardening requires a lot more attention to watering and fertilizing anyways.

Glazed pots work much better. The best pot though is plastic for the lazy gardener. They may not be as pretty or have that cool factor but they are the best.

Dono

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applestar
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This is actually interesting because I'm trying to slowly move back to unglazed terracotta pots. It's more work for sure. They dry out much more quickly. They're heavy. On the whole, they take up more space for less volume. They freeze and break in the winter if not cared for properly. They break when dropped or knocked against.

But I do wonder about using plastic containers for edibles. No matter what they say, plastic does deteriorate over time. They become brittle. Well, what keeps them soft and pliable -- plasticizers that usually contain the carcinogens and hormone mimics. If they become brittle over time, what happened to the plasticizers? Where did they go?

Some terracotta pots -- I noticed ones from Europe like Italy and Spain -- are labeled heavy-metal free.

Also, terracotta is more insulating. When placed directly on the ground, they wick up moisture from the ground. The porous nature of the material makes more air available to the root zone. They help pull plants through from damage due to overwatering and dense soil. This year, I noticed that the few seedlings I potted up in terracotta pots grew much better than the ones in plastic, especially when potted in experimental failure soil mixes.

More downside: Slugs LOVE terracotta pots

Upside: Broken shards can be used in the soil. Those pores -- for the soil microbes to live in? While the pots are whole as well. All that bleaching to clean business -- I think it's actually working AGAINST the better use of terracotta pots. My plan from here on is to soak the pots in AACT just before use (I did something similar -- not AACT but compost soak water -- with the seedling pots).

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rainbowgardener
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Yeah I just had to trash a really pretty terra cotta pot, that I left out in the winter. Too much freeze thaw, cracked it open in several places. (By "trash" I of course mean put in the the broken pottery pile to use in the bottom of future containers :)) The mini rose bush that was in it, is now in a much less pretty plastic container. Oh well.

I like terra cotta for the breathability and looks, but don't use it much for the reasons AS said, plus expensive.
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gixxerific
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Some very good points there AS. Is anything really safe for use in life. And I mean ANYTHING!?

cynthia_h
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rainbowgardener wrote: (By "trash" I of course mean put in the the broken pottery pile to use in the bottom of future containers :))
Ah! Perhaps...a sherd midden? Future archeologists will be puzzled..."and here, we believe, was a repository of unsatisfactory pottery products, the source of clay for which has been shown to be across the Atlantic Ocean, thus proving an extended trade route."

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Annemieke
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There are plants who are growing better in terracotta pots. I have a little olive tree and she is growing much better in terracotta. In a container she gets brown leaves because the container isn't breathing enough. Other upside is that the terracotta pot absorbs much more warmth of the sun. My olive loves that. :D

Regards, Annemieke
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