Concrete vs Terracotta Pots: Which is a Better Option For Plants?

Concrete vs Terracotta Pots: Which is a Better Option For Plants?

One of the common questions that arise in every beginner’s mind at the start of the plant journey is what should be the material of the pots for plants. Many options are available in the market like terracotta, ceramics, plastic, concrete, fiberglass, etc. However, every plant has different care requirements, and the pot’s material is independent of each plant’s needs. But the gardeners always prefer the pots and planters made of natural materials due to the benefits they provide to the plants. One of the debates among plant lovers is Concrete vs Terracotta Pots. Explore this article to find out which is a better option for plants.

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Concrete pots

Concrete pots are one of the many pots in which you can grow your favorite plants. Concrete pots and planters are made in the same way foundations of buildings are constructed, but the scale is much smaller. They are sturdy, durable, and heavyweight. Also, they are available in many sizes, ranging from small ones for planting herbs to planters that are large enough for small trees. Concrete planters are undoubtedly beneficial, but they also have a few drawbacks.

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Benefits of Concrete Pots

  • They are very heavyweight, firm, and not likely to trip over. This makes concrete pots suitable for windy areas.
  • Concrete is a very durable and hardy material. So, the concrete planters are also highly robust and will remain for many years.
  • Another benefit of unsealed concrete is that it is porous. This ability is very beneficial for plants as it allows some control against over-watering and developing root rot.
  • Concrete provides heat insulation. When the sun warms up the planters, the soil also gets heated up, but the concrete keeps the temperature of the soil moderate. Therefore the concrete planters protect the plants well in regions where the temperature is hot.
  • As concrete is made of cement and rocks, it has a rough look. Hence, in case of any damage, the planter makes the damage less visually appealing than other materials like wood or plastic.
  • Furthermore, concrete planters are available in different sizes. Moreover, there are huge ones, which is not the option in many planter materials.
  • Another benefit is that you can even make your planter at home, as many types of molds are available.
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Drawbacks of Concrete Pots

  • They are extremely heavy and difficult to move if you like to re-arrange your plants off and on. Moreover, you must consider the weight load when placed on balconies or roofs.
  • Concrete planter pots are more expensive than terra-cotta. They are available in different sizes, from small to extra large sizes.
  • Porosity is a beneficial characteristic of concrete pots. However, it can also be a drawback. Porous material drains water quickly. Therefore, unsealed concrete pots need to be watered more than materials like plastic which retains water. Therefore, watering needs to be monitored because the soil dries quickly, there is a risk of underwatering.
  • Porous material also absorbs moisture from the environment making the planter more prone to fungus growth.
  • Concrete is a sustainable material. But the production of concrete pots is less environmentally friendly as compared to the production of terracotta pots.
  • Another drawback of concrete planters is that concrete has a high amount of lime content which may adversely affect some plants. Although lime is not toxic to plants, it has high pH making it highly alkaline. Most plants need acidic soil, and only a few, like succulents prefer alkaline soil. Plants that like acidic soil will not survive in high alkalinity. The additional lime will disperse when exposed to water and break down in the pot by washing it and letting it rest in the water for several days to remove excess lime. However, you can leach the alkalinity of the planter by soaking it in water for a few days or simply sealing it.
  • Furthermore, unsealed concrete pots have high alkalinity and mineral content, leaching salts into the soil. When water evaporates from the soil, the salts accumulate on the pot in the form of white residue known as efflorescence. Due to salt build-up, the roots don’t take the water as required.
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Related Article: Are Concrete Planters OK for Plants?

Pros of Concrete Pots

  • Heavyweight and will not trip over easily
  • Durable, hardy, and long-lasting
  • Porous providing control over overwatering
  • Can tolerate high temperatures
  • A rough look hides damages
  • Can be made easily at home
  • Availability in different sizes

Cons of Concrete Pots

  • Heavyweight and difficult to move
  • Expensive
  • Water dries quickly due to its porous nature, causing underwatering
  • Releases lime in the soil, making soil alkaline
  • Alkaline soil is not suitable for all plants
  • High mineral content causes efflorescence on pots
  • Concrete production is not a sustainable process

Terracotta Pots

Clay is the natural raw natural material used to make terracotta and ceramic pots. The word terracotta originally means ‘baked earth’ in Italian. The clay is baked in a firing kiln at high temperatures to make terracotta pots. Typically, they are unglazed and have a rusty brown color. Furthermore, these pots have a distinct look that some people might admire, and others might find completely boring. However, the benefits of terracotta pots are so many that it is the gardener’s favorite choice.

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Benefits of Terracotta Pots

Terracotta is a simple clay-based material, but growing in terracotta is preferred over other types of pots due to the numerous benefits that this material offers.

  • The earthy color of the terracotta pots looks aesthetically pleasing since they give more of a natural look to the plants.
  • They are extremely easy to customize according to your taste. You can paint them in any design or spray paint them to give them a color that will go with your indoor setting.
  • Moreover, terracotta pots are comparatively inexpensive. They are budget-friendly and cheap, so you will not feel sad if you accidentally trip over.
  • Terracotta is highly porous and permeable. It allows water and air to flow, which helps your plant grow and look fresh.
  • These porous terracotta pots have fast drainage. They absorb water and allow excess moisture to be released from the soil through drainage holes more quickly. Therefore, terracotta pots are suitable for plants that prefer well-drained soil.
  • It is an eco-friendly option that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. You can decorate yours indoors without having any negative impact on the environment.
  • Terracotta pots have insulation properties and can withstand high temperatures.
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Related Article: 6 Amazing Benefits of Terracotta Pots

Drawbacks of Terracotta Pots

  • It is permeable, so the soil dries out quickly and will need more dampening. Since the plant dries faster, it can lead to underwatering, so it needs water more frequently.
  • Due to their porous nature, terracotta pots have a high chance of becoming stained with lime and mineral salts on the outside, causing salt build-up known as efflorescence.
  • Soil-filled terracotta pots become heavy to move.
  • This clay-based material is brittle and easily breaks if accidentally dropped.
  • It can become delicate in winter and tends to break.
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Related Article: White Mold on Terracotta Pots: Solutions and Preventions

Pros of Terracotta Pots

  • Aesthetically pleasing earthy color
  • Porous and permeable and allows water and air to flow
  • Fast drainage, so the soil doesn’t remain damp
  • Eco-friendly option
  • Can withstand high temperatures
  • Easy to customize
  • Inexpensive and budget friendly

Cons of Terracotta Pots

  • Heavyweight and difficult to move
  • Water dries quickly due to its porous nature, causing underwatering
  • Salt easily builds up on the surface
  • Brittle and breaks if fall
  • Delicate in winter and tends to crack

Concrete and Terracotta Pots – Similarities

Although plant lovers look for concrete vs terracotta pots, they also have some striking similarities.

The key factor you need to keep in mind when choosing a container is to observe whether it is making sure that it is draining well or not. If it is not doing so, the roots will decay due to the moist soil. Both types of pots are best fit for this purpose since they are both porous and allow air and water to escape the pot through the walls and the bottom.

Moreover, it would be best if you also made ensure that you choose a container that will not allow your plant to get too hot while being in the sun. Both concrete and terracotta pots have insulation properties that can shield your plants during extensive fluctuations in temperature.

Terracotta and unglazed or unsealed concrete pots are porous, and the water dries quickly in both of them. Hence frequent watering is required; otherwise, there will be a risk of underwatering for plants.

Both terracotta and concrete pots can experience salt build, i.e., efflorescence on the pot’s surface. Both become too heavy when filled with soil.

Terracotta vs Concrete pots

Concrete is very heavy in weight as compared to terracotta pots. Although both materials get very heavy when filled with soil, the weight of a concrete pot alone is also too much. In this way, concrete provides excellent support against strong winds, but if you intend to keep the concrete planters on the balcony, it is not preferable as it adds weight load.

Concrete has a high amount of lime content which may adversely affect some plants. The lime in the soil changes the pH of the soil, making it highly alkaline. Usually, plants like acidic soil, and their growth are affected when placed in alkaline soil. Although some plants like alkaline soil, they are just a few, like succulents. To decrease the lime content, the concrete pots must be placed in water for a few days or sealed completely. But this affects the porous quality of the concrete. However, this is not the case with terracotta pots, as plants remain very happy in terracotta.

Terracotta is a porous and permeable material and allows water and air to flow through the soil particles. Concrete in its raw form when it is not sealed is also porous, but unsealed concrete pots are not preferred as it leaches lime into the soil. And when concrete is sealed, its porosity decreases. Therefore, the water does not drain quickly from the concrete pots compared to terracotta, and there is a risk of overwatering, leading to root rot in concrete planters.

Terracotta is a brittle material that cracks in winters if kept outside, whereas thick, correct planters can survive the winters if wrapped properly.

Terracotta is a very environmentally sustainable material as it is made of natural material. Concrete is also a sustainable material. But the production of concrete pots is less environmentally friendly as compared to the production of terracotta pots.

Concrete pots and planters are expensive, whereas terracotta pots are inexpensive and reasonably priced, making them a preferred choice for indoor and outdoor use among gardeners.

Features Terracotta Pots Raw Concrete Pots Sealed Concrete Pots
Fast DrainageX
Lime Content XX
Make Soil AlkalineXX
Withstand temperatures

Verdict: Concrete vs Terracotta Pots

Our verdict is that terracotta is a better option for plants. Although you can buy as many concrete planters as you want, the most convenient option is terracotta.

How is terracotta a better option?

Concrete is comparatively less porous than terracotta, and the soil remains moist in less porous containers. Damp soil can harm plants since it clogs up and prevents the roots from breathing, leading to the roots rotting. The porous nature of terracotta permits air and moisture to penetrate through the sides of the pot. Air movement instigates root growth, which results in well-thrived plants.

Moreover, plant enthusiasts love buying new plants and pots for them. So buying concrete pots too frequently is not pocket-friendly. Therefore, terracotta is a convenient and reasonable choice if you buy plants too often.

We hope this article on Concrete vs Terracotta Pots helps you out in selecting the better option for your plants. If you enjoyed this article, visit our website for more articles.

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