How can I reuse or recycle (or repair) broken terracotta plant pots?

We’ve had an email from Natasha:

It seems a good number of my terracotta plant pots cracked in the cold over winter. What can I reuse them for?

Holding your horses, you may be able to repair them if it’s just a relatively clean crack – this Instructable fixes a broken-in-half pot with epoxy resin, this how-to uses silicone sealant and wire, and this eHow also uses wire. Anyone got any fixing/mending advice?

Even it’s beyond repair, don’t discount it as still being useful as a planter – some people make very effective use of broken pots to create a shabby chic/Roman ruins feel for the garden.

If it’s even beyond that though, broken up, it could still be useful in the garden – providing interesting/useful shade for aquatic life in a pond or as water draining crocks at the bottom of the new replacement plant pots.

(And don’t forget to stop history repeating itself by protecting terracotta and the like over winter. From what I’ve read, pots fired to a higher temperature are more frost resistant too, so look out for “frost proof” pots too.)

Any other repair or reuse suggestions?

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7 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle (or repair) broken terracotta plant pots?”

  1. Alexis says:

    it depends on how badly damaged they are

    if they are cracked to the point of not being able to hold a plant but still holding their form I often put them in the garden to make nooks & hiding places for newts & frogs etc.

    if its something you’re not likely to move – then a cracked pot placed in the right spot planted up with something looks rather quirky.

    broken up they are useful for creating a drainage layer in other pots

    If you’re creatively inclined a smashed up pot could be used for mosaic

    if its big enough, and if the crack or fracture is in the right place – I’ve occasionally gotten away with “re-forming” the pot into a trough for a new planting – alpines for example, lettuce, herbs, or something that cascades over the side.

  2. mali marsh says:

    It can be used as a type of hard core when res-slabbing. . .

    Saying that – you’d need quite a few pots.

    Failing that – drainage in a flower bed/ plant pot is always an option.

  3. I like to use them broken up to provide drainage in my raised bed or in other pots.
    You could also use them (broken into very small pieces so the curvature makes them useable) to make mosaic patterns which can look quite nice in a terracotta monochrome style.

  4. Su says:

    Have you tried drilling terracotta pots? I have & nearly burned the drill out, they are very tough.

  5. Bertie says:

    I’ve recently used “less than perfect” terracotta pots to make a water feature & found that they are extremely easy to drill if the correct bit is used ie. a masonary bit with a piece of masking tape placed over the place to be drilled.

  6. HMD says:

    You can decorate the new pots, a mosaic of old broken.

  7. Alice says:

    If the break is nice and clean, i.e. the bits fit together very closely, then you might be able to fix ceramic pots with superglue.

    At first I wasn’t convinced this would work very well, but I’ve done it several times now and have even broken the same pots again and had them break in different places while the superglued breaks held.

    Only works if the pieces fit together well, as if they don’t then water will eventually get into the cracks and freeze, prising the pieces apart.

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