Terracotta versus Plastic and 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 and plastic 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 you growing needs. 

Terracotta

Terracotta is an un-glazed clay material, fired in kilns and is a traditional accompaniment for any flora or fauna. 

The benefits of Terracotta Pots

  • Terracotta 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.

  • 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 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 Pots

  •  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 pots can be subject to cracking and breaking during colder spells and might not withstand frosts, meaning you may have to replace 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).

Plastic

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 clay pots, those made of plastic are lightweight and easy to move about.

The Drawbacks of Plastic Plant Pots

  • Plastic does store heat more easily meaning 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. 

  • Although easier to move, plastic pots are unlikely to withstand windy and wet weather, particularly if your plants are in their infancy without weight or top –heavy. 

  • Plastic generally has thinner ‘walls’ than clay terracotta 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 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.  

Tags: Terracotta versus Plastic, Plant Pots, Sustainability