exterior & outdoor living plants & gardening

Timeless Terracotta

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comThis blog post initially started as a “Trend Alert” post, but I changed the title because while terracotta is indeed having a moment, I firmly believe it’s not a trend. This timeless material has been around forever and feels super classic to me. Yesterday I spent my lunch break at the local greenhouse and I finally bought some matching terracotta pots for our little garden. Last year, we threw together the space in our side yard the best we could using planters that were left behind by the previous homeowners, but this year I wanted it to look a little nicer and better fit our aesthetic. While I’m still holding out on filling the pots with plants (it snowed here this week), I’m excited to tend to our tiny garden for the second year in a row. Soon, I hope! In the meantime, click through for my thoughts on terracotta, some inspiration for styling it, some good resources, how to get that perfect terracotta patina, and for a roundup of my favorite planters right now. 

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comTerracotta comes in many different hues, and I really love them all! For our garden, I landed on some weathered looking planters, that is more of a muted terracotta color- including the ones with the ridges pictured above. I also enjoy mixing in some of the more saturated planters, or even better… vintage ones that have a nice patina going!

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comIf you’re looking for a rich terracotta patina, I’d definitely suggest scouring Etsy, eBay, Chairish, or Facebook Marketplace for some vintage options. I’ve even had luck at local yard sales! I have two GIANT terracotta planters that flank our garage doors, and I pulled them out of some guy’s garage when picking up a vintage rug. They’re so beautifully aged, and it’s really a look that only time can add. Another tip? Leave your terracotta planters outside year round. While I’ll carefully tuck other planters away in our shed, I leave my terracotta pots outside to weather naturally. It helps them age more quickly, and it is less work for me! They’re really zero maintenance.

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comTerracotta planters aren’t only great in exterior settings, but I also enjoy decorating the interior of our home with them- especially during the spring & summer months. I’ve been testing out planters I ordered for our Tuesday Made shop, and I currently have this pretty number sitting on our window sill above the kitchen sink, pictured below. We should have lots of beautiful options arriving and available in the shop within the next month or so, including the mini planters I used for my herb garden!

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comReady to see some of the beauties I’ve been saving and have found recently? They vary in price and size!

Click directly on the items to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below the collage to shop…

01: lima planter // 02: clay planter // 03: shandon planter // 04: fluted planter // 05: tapered planter // 06: planter set // 07: double walled planter // 08: granada planter // 09: french planter // 10: scalloped planter // 11: megara planter // 12: greek key planter

I actually ended up buying the #10 planter yesterday. Home Depot happens to be near the local greenhouse I like, so I quickly popped in to check out their garden center. For $11, it felt like an awesome buy… but I will say, it’s not actual terracotta and the color looks nothing like it does on the website (it’s more orange in person). It’s composite on the inside, but the outside has the feel of coated terracotta. I’ll be interested to see how it wears, and I’ll keep you updated. I do like the scalloped rim detail!

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comBasic terracotta planters are really inexpensive and a wonderful buy- especially if you keep them for a long time and allow them to patina outdoors. They’ll eventually take on a really gorgeous texture and color- it’s a fun process to watch! I feel like my inexpensive basic terracotta planters, like the ones pictured above and below, started to get really good after 4-5 years. It just takes some patience!

Timeless Terracotta - roomfortuesday.comWhat do you think about terracotta? Do you like the look? Do you currently have some terracotta planters of your own, you’re prepping for spring? I feel like most people do! I do a lot of plant gifting, and I always make sure the pot is terracotta (because it’s timeless and something friends & family can keep forever), which usually ends up outlasting the plant. I’ll be sure to share my new planters on IG later today, and any garden progress I make this weekend! I hope you have a great weekend ahead, too.

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  • Reply
    Sally
    April 8, 2021 at 5:59 am

    I love terracotta too – so warm and versatile in both classic and more contemporary settings. The pot with the deep rim in your last photograph is particularly lovely in a simple way.

    I would encourage people to consider using an appropriately-sized mat/coaster of some kind if pots are used indoors (I like a thick, plain round cork coaster best) as terracotta can easily scratch wood and paintwork.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      April 8, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Sally have you ever tried using a terra cotta saucer? I have several indoor pots, and I buy the terra cotta saucers for around $1/each- they offer a very finished look, protect furniture from stains and water-I highly recommend! When I’m not watering I’ll sometimes use the smaller ones as a candle pedestal when burning a pillar candle.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 8, 2021 at 9:20 am

      Thanks, Sally! I feel the same way. It’s a material that works in every home with any aesthetic. Such a great tip on using felt, cork, or a coaster / mat of some sort underneath terracotta when using it indoors. I’ve definitely scratch my fair share of surfaces with planters. Thanks for pointing that out! Have a great Thursday :)

  • Reply
    Peggi
    April 8, 2021 at 6:15 am

    What says spring more than a waiting pile of terra cotta pots? I love them all, from the most basic to the charmingly ruffled, graphically ribbed and classically adorned. (Although, weirdly, I reject all handled vessels because they’re just breakage in-waiting.) I will say I’m ambivalent about the resin options. I know they are lightweight and resist cracking, and some are quite realistic-looking. But…natural materials will always win for me. Although I’m spending lots of time prepping our vegetable garden (on a friend’s property), my own flower beds and patio planters are in puppy purgatory. 😭 Currently strategizing solutions… Here’s to a glorious weekend playing in the dirt! (Kicked off by a relaxing Pizza Friday, of course!)💜

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 8, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Right?! My thoughts exactly. I’m being super impatient over here and was ready to start planting last week. Ha! I love a good handle and haven’t had any break yet (knocking on wood). I’m with you on natural materials- the weight, the patina, they just feel better. Oh dogs and plants. Cash & Cros are fine with our indoor plants, but Cash likes to ruin our garden. Sadly I won’t be planting any onions this year, since it resulted in two trips to the vet. I also have a case of magically disappearing cherry tomatoes because a certain dog LOVES to eat them before I can pick them. Haha! We may have to put up a little fence around the garden, or do some dog training. Oof. Neither sounds like a fun option, so I’m in the same boat. Here’s to pizza Friday tmrw and a hopefully sunny weekend outside!! :) xo

  • Reply
    Jennifer Laura
    April 8, 2021 at 7:28 am

    I agree- so timeless and beautiful!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 8, 2021 at 9:15 am

      Most definitely!!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    April 8, 2021 at 7:49 am

    You know I’m in love with terra cotta! The rich tones, the way it ages…I have a few sitting in my kitchen window currently- one with a gorgeous pair of orchids, and one with the most delicate succulent I’ve ever seen. There are three enormous pots in my front yard that have been aging empty for the past year- I’m hoping to fill them soon! #1 from your roundup is speaking to me. Lately I’ve been really wanting to get some dwarf citrus trees potted in terra cotta to place along our long patio border. I want the more muted look and if these are sized right, that might just be the ticket! I would love to a find a local nursery that has more than just the basic terra cotta though. Some of the shapes and textures pictured at your nursery look amazing! I would love to find a Greek key pot in similar size and shape to the one on your outdoor table-that one stops me every time I see it. Ahhhh…spring planting- it will be fun this year. We have a lot of work to do in our yard and I’m looking forward to it. Now I’m off to scour through your links! Have a wonderful Thursday!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 8, 2021 at 9:15 am

      Oh, I know :) Your kitchen window situation sounds perfect, Lauren! We had a dwarf lemon tree at our old house in a pot and sadly it didn’t move with us, but I really liked it. We have the BEST nursery and it’s filled with hundreds of planter options- I feel so lucky we live close by. I found my Greek key planter at HomeGoods last year! Maybe check there this season. I’m pretty sure it was under $30. I’m equally as excited for spring planting and am impatiently waiting. Haha! Hope you have an awesome Thursday :)

  • Reply
    Paige
    April 8, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Love terra-cotta! they come in so many interesting shapes. I paint them to unify the color and use them inside and outside, rotating throughout the year. Even with paint they continue to patina to wonderful effect.

    I agree with Sally – be sure to put felt or cork on the bottom if you don’t want to worry about scratching. They may feel smooth, but the porosity that allows for that beautiful patina is like fine sandpaper on surfaces.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 8, 2021 at 9:10 am

      Me too, Paige! They’re really so versatile. I painted a few terracotta pots at our previous house for our carport that held honeysuckle and it worked out so well, while fitting the budget! Definitely a great tip from Sally… felt or cork is definitely a smart idea when using the pots indoors.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    April 8, 2021 at 9:29 am

    I’ve been loving terracotta! I noticed this post is really plant-related. Would you be open to doing a follow up post about terracotta coming in through other design elements? I love terracotta floors, for example, and I’ve also been looking for terracotta household items like soap dispensers and kitchen crocks. And of course I’ve seen so many rooms painted a terracotta color.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 9, 2021 at 9:13 am

      Me too, Amanda! I’ve clearly been focused on plants and gardening, thanks to spring- but I also love terracotta inserted elsewhere in the home (tile, roofing, decor, etc).

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    April 8, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    On aging terracotta pots, and uses for broken ones: I had a pot that broke in half, and wanted to encourage more toads in my back yard, so I laid the pot on its side under some leafy plants and forgot about it. I checked it awhile later, and the patina from being partly buried in dirt was amazing! Just bury all of your new pots for a year or so! 😆 Some day maybe I’ll do an experiment to see how quickly a good patina can be achieved by this method.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 9, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Such a great tip, Jennifer! Thank you so much for sharing. Do let us know how the experiment turns out, if you don’t mind :)

  • Reply
    Shawn
    April 9, 2021 at 11:26 am

    Hello Sarah, long time reader but first time commenter here – just wanted to say that I love your blog and have learned a lot these past few months!

    I have read a bit about terracotta pots lately, as I would like to acquire a couple. Many sources say thay they should be brought indoor come winter because, being porous and delicate by nature, the shift in temperature and humidity would most likely make them crack, or break.

    I live in Eastern Canada, and I see that where you are located, you experience snow and freezing temperature as well. I was wondering what was your general experience regarding this matter, since I was planning on leaving mine (the bigger and heavier ones, at least) outside all winter.

    Thank you,

    Shawn

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2021 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Shawn, thanks so much for reading! I’m so happy to see your comment. I truly appreciate your kind words. They really mean a lot! I read the same thing about terracotta planters, but I accidentally left some outside (during our snowy winter a few years ago) and was happy with the patina result the following spring, so I’ve been leaving them out ever since. I haven’t had any crack so far, but that’s not to say it can’t happen. I’d maybe test it in your climate with a planter you don’t care as much about… just in case. We have four seasons here and our winters are pretty harsh, and our summers are very hot. It’s truly one extreme to another. It could also be the type of terracotta I have or the way it was constructed. I’m sure some planters do better than others based on that. I’m not sure if that’s helpful, but I haven’t had issues and it makes it easier (especially for the heavy ones).

    • Reply
      Kelly
      April 12, 2021 at 7:41 pm

      Chicagoan here! In my experience if you leave terracotta outside in winter, you might get lucky for a few winters with little damage, but over time it will definitely crack.

      • Reply
        Sarah
        April 13, 2021 at 10:49 pm

        Thanks so much for sharing, Kelly!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    April 10, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    OK, but can you tell me about those patio chairs in the lead photo? I LOVE them! (And I have a black thumb, so pretty terracotta planters filled with… PLANTS… is still a bit of a pipe dream at the moment, haha.)

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