In the grand scheme of things, we are doing the planet some favors when we buy terracotta pots, made with natural materials, as opposed to plastic pots. In either case, the pots will likely break at some point. With plastic pots, there is little more to do than throw the old pot away, but with terracotta pots, there is an assortment of cool crafts and projects to be done. The pot can live on!
Some people will shrug it off, break the old clay pots into smaller pieces, and use them as drainage rocks in the next pots. This is certainly a valid way to get extra life out of broken terracotta, but there are also more creative ways for handling the situation. These old pots, amazingly, take on a new and beautiful mystique when they have cracked and crumbled. We just have to harness that power.
1. Fallen Pot
If there were ever a classic way of using an old, broken terracotta or ceramic pot, the staged fallen pot in the garden is it. Rather than standing the broken pot upright to grow things, the best part of it can be put supine somewhere and staged to look as if plants are spilling out of a pot that has tumbled. It’s a curious way of making something that once was very functional into something purely aesthetic. No matter how many times we see it, the look just feels right.
2. Fairy Gardens
Steadily becoming the big rage amongst creative, garden-y types and people in search of projects for children, fairy gardens are a neat way to take advantage of broken plant pots. The rims and round sides of smaller pots can be arranged inside of larger pots, and an assortment of stones, mosses, sticks, and so on can be displayed to make an engaging piece to put on the patio or in the garden itself.
3. Plant Labels
For those of us with herb gardens or who have trouble remembering which plant is what, making plant labels is a great solution. There are many ways of doing this: old popsicle sticks, painted stones, repurposed plastic spoons, etc. Using the salvaged rims from terracotta pots is perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing versions. Thematically, it makes more sense than other options, and the labels blend in enough to go unnoticed but stick out enough to do their job.
4. Toad (or Gnome) House
Every so often a heart-breaking thing happens and a plant pot breaks, but just barely. It’ll be just a chip or sliver on the upper edge of the pot, leaving it still more or less functional but much less attractive. Of course, many people simply turn the broken side to the wall and call it a day. Another option is to turn the pot upside down, paint something clever on it, and deem it a toad or gnome house for the garden. If toads do come and live in it, that’d be great, as they are good friends to have in the garden.
5. Plant Pot Mulch
Mulch is a simple but effective way to keep the soil from drying out quickly in plant pots. It prevents the sun from just baking the potting mix. A cool way to mulch potted plants is to take the pieces of broken pots and lay them over the surface of the potting mix. This works well with the typical orange terracotta pots, and it can also be really beautiful if done with colored ceramics.
6. Candle Holder
When plant pots break and leave roughly half of the pot still intact atop the bottom, creating a sort of amphitheater effect, then they can make great candle holders for the outside patio. Just cover the bottom in pebbles, stand two or three candles in them, and use them for the next garden party or dinner on the patio. And, they might also make good spots for putting citronella candles when bugs are bad.
7. Decorative Pathway
Garden paths are great to have, particularly in areas where rain is frequent and feet get muddy. It’s a good idea to plot out a route and pick some nice gravel for it. Another cool idea for this is to use the smaller pieces of broken plant pots as accents in the gravel pathways. They can either be speckled in for a little color, or they can be arranged in some sort of design, say a peace sign or a flower.
Choosing terracotta or ceramic plant pots is a good choice for many reasons. Not only does it look nicer, but it is just better for the environment. We don’t need to add more plastic to the world when better options are out there. Ultimately, the ability to repurpose the pieces of broken terracotta pots makes them that much more desirable. We can get so much more use out of them in the long run.
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