My small courtyard garden is filled with pots, yet that doesn't stop me wanting to add more each year when I start to spend more time outdoors. Yet, for my tiny Mediterranean-inspired backyard, brand new, clean terracotta is not the vibe, and I don't want to wait ages for a new pot to catch up with the rest of my containers in capturing a rustic aesthetic.
Problem is, the simplest terracotta pots tend to be the cheapest, which means that I have to fork out more for anything that looks aged or reclaimed. However, I was recently at my mom's house, when she started to do something a little unusual to a new pot she was adding to her container gardening collection.
And, as it turns out, the secret to aging a terracotta pot quickly might be lurking in your fridge.
How do you age a terracotta pot?
The secret ingredient to aging a terracotta pot? Yoghurt. Applying yoghurt to the surface of your container will create a patina that develops naturally, but relatively quickly.
All you need to do is apply yoghurt to the container using a brush or sponge, and leave in a shady spot for the aging process to occur. If you've chosen flowers for pots in full sun, it's probably best to not pot your plant until you've waited for the patina to develop.
If you apply the yoghurt to a dry container, you'll get a more drastic, interesting result, while soaking the pot in water first will create a subtler effect. Applying at different thicknesses and with different tools and in different directions will all change up the look if you want to achieve variety.
The great thing about this hack is that you don't have to waste perfectly good yoghurt on it - you can use yoghurt that is past its expiration date. Any terracotta planters should work, just avoid any that have clay pot sealer on them.
How long does it take to develop?
It will still take at least a month for the patina to develop properly, but in that time, it can create a look that feels like your terracotta pot has been outside in the elements for years and years.
Are there any other ways to make a new terracotta pot look old?
To achieve varied finishes for your containers, there are some other methods that will also create an interesting patina.
- Simply sit a pot in a tub of water and leave in the sun until algae starts to form.
- Rub clay soil over the surface of the pot and leave for a month to bond with the container's surface, before remove and rubbing with a wire brush.
3 of the best aged terracotta pots
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Hugh is the Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2024.
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