Protect Your Pots This Winter

Tuscan Terracotta is one of the hardiest materials you can use for your external container plantings, but that doesn't mean you should overlook putting some basic good housekeeping measures in place to protect your outdoor pots before the temperatures plummet. 

To maximise the prevention of frost damage to your terracotta, it is helpful to understand one of the leading causes; inadequate or no drainage. The particular problem we have in the UK is our Winter weather pattern. We usually experience extended periods of wet weather, followed by sudden and radical drops in temperature. In this environment, the soil within a planter with poor drainage will quickly become water-logged, and so will the terracotta. When the temperature drops below zero degrees, this water freezes and expands, and sadly the end result is often a cracked pot.

In the same way that you will check your gutter, clear up the fallen leaves and put your garden to bed for winter, take a moment and follow these few practical steps to make sure your pots are also ready for any forthcoming harsh elements.

  • Firstly, plant up the pot carefully, ensuring good drainage. Potting up correctly in the first place could save you a lot of hard work further down the line! Please take a look at our planting advice for a step-by-step guide and some top tips.
  • Raise the pot on risers or pot feet to keep the pot drainage hole clear of frozen surfaces. This allows airflow around the pot, which helps to draw excess water from the terracotta and soil, which is crucial for the wellbeing of your pot and plant. (This is the case in all weather conditions, not just winter!)
  • Check the drainage hole periodically and clear any blockages. This practice is much easier to do if you have initially placed the pot on feet or risers and will save potentially having to manoeuvre a heavy pot. If you haven't already done so, take a look at our range of pot feet, and we will happily advise you on the most suitable style and quantity required for your specific pot. 
  • Try not to water pots before a cold snap, and remember after any snowfall, always clear the snow out of the pot, off the pot and from around the base.
  • During extended periods of very cold and wet weather, you can take the added precaution of wrapping the pot with winter fleece or hessian. This will also give a little extra protection to the plant roots.

As an aside, the flaking damage you may have experienced on some terracotta usually points to a pot that has been fired at lower temperatures (below 1000ºC). Low fired pots have a higher porosity; they retain more water which freezes inside the small cavities, forcing off the outer layer of terracotta. All our pots are fired at above 1000ºC for several days, so you can be confident that flaking will not be an issue when you purchase a Mud Mountain planter.

We will explain the entire production process of our handmade terracotta pots and what makes a pot frost resistant in future posts, so keep an eye out on our blog page for further information and terracotta tips. To make sure you don't miss out, and if you haven't already done so, sign up for our newsletter.


Posted on November 26th 2020

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