If you’ve been into succulents for even just a hot second, likely you already know – the absolute best pots you could plant any ‘ol succulent in is an unglazed terracotta pot.
While terracotta pots are ceramic, they comprise a specific subset of ceramic pots: those made only out of clay. Clay has properties that help wick away water from the soil, allowing the soil in your pot to dry out more quickly. This inevitably means the roots of your plants are able to drink, but won’t sit in water for very long – ideal for plants that need to be quite dry between watering like succulents and cacti. If you leave a succulent in water for too long, its roots, stem, or leaves may rot, as when they sit in water for a long time, their roots take in more water than they can handle.
If you’re angling to take advantage of the benefits of potting succulents in terracotta, you’ve got to make sure your particular clay container is left unfinished, completely without glazing or paint of any kind. The reason is that the clay needs to be completely exposed on the inside and the outside of the pot in order to wick water away and dry out soil more quickly, so keep this in mind when you’re shopping for pots.
If you grab a completely glazed terracotta pot, it’s the equivalent of buying a regular non-clay ceramic pot. Perfectly fine if you’re happy with that as the end result – nothing wrong with planting succulents in clay pots – just don’t expect a glazed terracotta container to help you air out your succulents any better than other pots.
Just because you want to go with terracotta pots, and unglazed clay specifically, doesn’t mean you can’t diversify the types of pots you have. If you don’t like the look of traditional terracotta pots, or like me, you love the look but really like to get a huge mix in pots so your collection isn’t too matchy-matchy, there’s a lot of options out there. A few of my favourites include…
The Plethora of Unglazed Terracotta Succulent Pot Styles
In terms of traditional terracotta pots, if you’d like to change things up aesthetically without completely losing the benefits of unglazed clay, you can do so by switching up pot sizes (having some extra-tiny for instance would be adorable!), or even painting small flourishes directly onto the pot.
While you shouldn’t paint the entirety of the pot if you’d like to use terracotta to help soil dry more quickly, that doesn’t mean you can’t paint small parts of it. You can also draw on terracotta with sharpie, or use temporary tattoos to dress up the look of a clay pot.
Some ideas in terms of aesthetics: painting on patterns or faces, drawing on stick figures. You can use a sharpie to label a plant, even drawing on an elegant outline of the way the plant currently looks. You can number your plants, or give entertaining names the succulents and/or cacti in your collection, writing the given name of your plant onto the pot. You can also paint solid lines around your plant pot, paint the lip of each terracotta pot in a different colour…
There are a slew of options out there you can use to vary things up, which is especially handy if you like variety, but these pots are the most affordable or the easiest to grab for your growing collection.
There are a few different shapes you can go with in case you’re not a fan of the look of traditional flower pots and want to bring a modern touch to a classic material.
One of my favourites for this? Cylindrical shapes that are straight from top to bottom. That and…
It’s hard for me not to obsess over the look of square terracotta pots. I think they’re aesthetically quite perfect for succulents, and they’d look quite nice paired with traditional pots if you’re trying to switch things out without switching materials to something other than clay.
Not fussed about going modern? Really love the old charm of terracotta, but do like to have diversity in terms of aesthetics?
You may want to grab a strawberry planter that’s made out of terracotta for your succulents. All those extra holes down the sides are perfect for smaller echeveria, sedum, and even some spillers like string of pearls.
Not my personal favourite, but there are plenty of embellished terracotta pots that have flowers and patterns and sometimes quite pretty designs on them if you’re interested. I’m not sure why I like these less than the other options, but I still think I’d have a pot or two interspersed in a bigger collection of succulent pots anyway – to change up the way things look.
6. Tall, thin-lipped or lip-less planter pots
Elongated, tall flower pots made of terracotta are my personal favourites to diversify the look of my succulent collection. I love using the spiller rhipsalis baccifera as well as the stunning portulacaria afra & portulacaria afra variegata to pour down the sides of these extra-tall planters. I feel it adds drama and if I manage to get a thin-lipped or even a lip-less tall planter, I’m even happier with the look as to me it’s quite modern and sleek.
7. Unique clay pot options
If you do a little digging, you can find some really unique looking clay pots out there, ones you may not want a whole collection out of, but would stand out as gorgeous pieces in the midst of a larger terracotta pot collection.
There are flower pots made to look like they’ve fallen over, where your succulents can peek out of the side or even spill over onto the ground if you’re happy to do a mix of flower bed and flower pot planting. There are pots in interesting shapes, like flowers or adorable little eggs. There are even ones made to look like succulent fairy gardens once you’ve planted them out. So many options if you’re looking for an eye-catcher here and there.
Your Thoughts on Diversifying Terracotta Pots for Succulents?
What are your favourite styles of terracotta pots? What are your favourite shapes and do you like the idea of customizing your pots with sharpies or paint here and there?
What advice do you have for those looking to have a terracotta pot collection for succulents, but don’t want it to look too matchy-matchy? Have you got something similar at home? What have you done with your collection? What else would you like to add?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!