Terracotta pots give your space a fun, rustic feeling, and clay beads for hydroponics ensure that your plants always get the moisture they need while allowing for proper aeration. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, though. In fact, before I myself tried growing plants in terracotta, I thought that they’d be the end of all my problems. Plot twist, they weren’t. Here are 3 pros and cons of growing with terracotta to consider before buying a whole bunch of terracotta pots like I did.
- Terracotta wicks up water, which reduces chances of root rot. Terracotta is porous, so moisture in the soil also gets absorbed by the terracotta, because it fills in the little air pockets in the surface of the terracotta. When certain air pockets become full of water, this water is distributed outwards inside of the terracotta because the empty pockets of air in the terracotta draw the water from the full air pockets. Thus, the overall effect is that terracotta keeps water from sitting in the soil and rotting the roots of your plant.
- Terracotta aerates the soil you’re using. This encourages root growth and increases the rate of photosynthesis in plants, which is what we all want.
- It distributes water almost perfectly when used as a growing medium. No more wondering when to water because the top layer is bone dry but the bottom of the pot is sopping wet.
- Terracotta is prone to algae and fungal growth. Growing plants in a hydroponic setup using clay beads can cause algae to grow in the pot. Terracotta pots may also end up with fungus growing on it. Ever wondered what that white stuff on the surface of YouTubers’ terracotta pots is? It’s a mixture of fungus and mineral buildup. People don’t talk about this because it’s just not glamorous. That being said, I’ve found that higher quality terracotta pots tend to get less fungus on the surface (if any).
- It is prone to salt and mineral buildup. Terracotta actually draws minerals out of the water, even if the water is usually soft enough for plants. Problem with this is that the usually harmless minerals in water end up as mineral salt on the terracotta or clay beads, where it is stored in a dehydrated form. The salt buildup can actually burn the roots of your plants, so be sure to flush your pot well every now and then.
- Terracotta can cause roots that come in contact with it to dry up if the terracotta is dry. Large root systems can be damaged by terracotta when they come into direct contact, as the terracotta literally draws moisture from anything it comes into contact with, be it soil or roots.