Terracotta garden pots Versus Sustainable Garden Materials

Terracotta versus Plastic Plant Pots

There isn’t one right way for everything when it comes to choosing the type of pots you are going to use with your gardening. Both terracotta garden pots and plastic pots have their benefits and drawbacks. Below we have looked at the positives and the negatives for both, giving you some ideas on what would be suitable for your growing needs.

Terracotta garden pots

Terracotta is an unglazed clay material, fired in kilns and is a traditional accompaniment for any flora or fauna. Terracotta garden pots are not suited for all types of plants, this is because the porous nature of the pot means that moisture is released from the Terracotta garden pots more quickly. Some plants prefer to have moist soil all the time, these plants would not be suited to Terracotta garden pots. A list of these plants can be seen below:

  • Ferns
  • Irises
  • Cardinal Flowers
  • Cannas
  • Elephants Ears (Colocasia)
  • Calla Lilies
  • Creeping Jenny 

The benefits of terracotta garden pots

Terracotta garden pots are more porous than plastic. This allows water and air to pass through more easily, allowing the plant roots to ‘breathe’ and preventing common plant killers such as root rot.

They are ornamental looking: If you want a traditional looking ornament for your garden then terracotta is the way to go. Although there are plastic replicas of terracotta pots, they don’t have the same effect as real clay pots.

Terracotta garden pots age beautifully, soaking in the minerals from the soil and become wonderfully rustic. You can purchase already tarnished clay pots if you prefer a worn look.

The drawbacks of terracotta garden pots

Terracotta garden pots are porous.Being made of a more porous material, plants will require more watering – this can be a downside if we are suffering from drought or you forget to water regularly.

Terracotta garden pots can be subject to cracking and breaking. During colder spells, terracotta posts might not withstand frosts, meaning you may have to replace them seasonally. (An easy way to overcome this is to ensure you buy frost- proof terracotta, just ask at your local garden centre if you’re unsure).

Terracotta garden pots are not suitable for all types of plants Due to the nature of some plants, terracotta pots are not suitable for all types of plants, a full list of which plants to avoid can be seen above.

Plastic pots

Plastic is generally an easier and cheaper option for gardening, with a multitude of colours to choose from to complement any interior or exterior scheme.

The Benefits of Plastic Plant Pots

Plastic pots are perfect for moisture loving plants– apart from the drainage holes, there is no outlet for water in plastic pots so the soil is more likely to maintain its moisture. This means less watering.

Compared to terracotta garden pots, those made of plastic are lightweight and easy to move about.

The Drawbacks of Plastic Plant Pots

Plastic stores heat more easily.This means that plants can prematurely wilt. If you are using plastic, try to keep your pots out of direct sunlight for long periods of time to avoid this.

Plastic is lightweight.Plastic pots are unlikely to withstand windy and wet weather, particularly if your plants are in their infancy without weight or are top –heavy.

Plastic generally has thinner ‘walls’ than clay terracotta garden pots. This means roots have less insulation from temperature changes.


If you are going to opt for plastic pots, try and source ones made out of recycled plastic. Let’s not contribute to plastic waste!

Both plastic and terracotta garden pots have their advantages and disadvantages but the essentials to any type of pot you buy is that they have plenty of drainage to ensure your plants grow happy and healthy. Prop them up with feet or place a layer of clay shards from a broken pot in the bottoms so the plant isn’t fully saturated.  

Be creative and think about what would suit your garden or greenhouse. If you need some advice our team of professionals can help you, get in touch with us here

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