Different types of plants have different temperature needs for the soil, and a gardener who works with clay pots develops a collaborative connection with the containers they use. The biological qualities of clay give it a nature that is prone to change. If you place your hand on the clay pot of a cactus that is located in direct sunlight, you will feel the plant’s ability to retain heat. Because of the pores in the clay, the container that contains a shade-loving fern will have a pleasant chill to the touch. Because of its adaptability, the basic clay pot is a gardener’s best friend. However, using terra cotta pots for indoor plants may need some adaptations to be made.
Choosing Terra Cotta Pots
Clay pots may be found at any garden store, and their sizes, prices, and overall quality will most likely vary. The quality of the pot will be determined not only by the kind of clay used but also by the temperature at which it is fired in the kiln. The temperatures at which various manufacturers fire their products are not standardised. Clay jars made with a coarse clay that has been burned at a low temperature would crumble after a few years. Molded pots have a lower chance of surviving cold, and the quality of the clay used to make them may vary.
You may expect the price to increase in proportion to the size of the pot, and you should keep in mind that heavier pots with thicker walls will last longer in the long run. Make sure the plant you wish to grow has a developed root system that can accommodate the size of the container. When repotting, choose a pot at least one size larger than the previous one.
Using Terra Cotta Plants Indoors
In order to prepare terra cotta pots for planting, immerse them in water for a whole night. This saturates the clay, preventing it from drawing moisture from the soil in the future. Be careful not to overfill the container, since the potting soil will expand as it takes up water. Don’t plug the openings on the bottom of the pot that allow water to drain. To prevent the soil from washing out of a clay pot along with any extra water, line the bottom of the pot with a paper coffee filter.
Author Raffaele Di Lallo, who lives in Ohio and writes about houseplants, notes that the porosity of the clay offers some protection against overwatering; if your terra cotta pot is wet on the outside, it has wicked moisture away from the roots of your houseplants, which are more susceptible to damage. Roots will develop more effectively when they are able to move freely through the soil and breathe more easily when the soil is not saturated.
Care and Storage of Terra Cotta
In order to prevent the spread of germs or viruses, clean the pots while they are not in use. The first step is to remove any loose soil that is present, and then you may use a stiff brush to break up any compacted or caked dirt. Because bleach has the potential to break down clay over time, it is recommended that pots be soaked for no more than half an hour in a solution consisting of one part bleach to 10 parts water, and then thoroughly rinsed. Bleach residue will vanish from the container if it is allowed to dry up fully over the course of two days. After you have cleaned them by hand, you may place them in the dishwasher along with a load of pots and some white vinegar.
Bake containers of any size for one hour at a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and then let them cool fully before handling them. This will eliminate any mould or bacteria that could be present. Keep washed and empty pots inside your home. If you don’t stack the pots, you won’t have to worry about them sticking together when you take them out. If you have to stack the pots because there is not enough room elsewhere, wrap a piece of newspaper over each one before tucking it into the next pot, and don’t pile them too high. It’s possible that wet, green algae or moss will grow on the surface of any pots that are stored in shaded, chilly areas. This “patina” is harmless to both the plant and the container, so feel free to indulge in it.
Maintaining or Replacing Terra Cotta
There are some handmade pots that might be rather pricey. The price of a pot that has been mass-produced is often lower. Keep in mind that any and all clays are porous when calculating the appropriate price. The fact that clay pots are able to breathe is a positive aspect of this situation since it means that hard-water minerals and fertiliser salts may seep through the walls of the pot without harming the plant roots. On the other hand, the University of Florida notes that this process will, in the long run, lead to the formation of a white crust on the surface of the object.
Not only is it unattractive, but it also has a good chance of diminishing the very porousness that was an initial benefit of the clay material. You may make an effort to remove the crusty buildup, but the pot will never again be in its original condition. It is possible that replacing older pots will prove to be more feasible.