Terra cotta pots are a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor plants, thanks to their classic, natural look and durability. If you have some of your own, you may have seen advice floating around about the need to pre-soak the pots before planting anything in them.
“The argument goes like this: if you don’t pre-soak them, then your terra cotta pots will absorb the water and there won’t be enough for you plants at the important re-potting stage,” Anna Cottrell wrote in an article in GardeningEtc.
But after interviewing gardening experts, Cottrell found out that this terra cotta tip is really a terra cotta myth. Here’s what to know.
Why you don’t need to pre-soak terra cotta pots
“Over the years I’ve potted up, re-potted and watered hundreds of plants and not once have I soaked a terra cotta pot. Soaking terra cotta pots is a waste of time because any moisture they might absorb evaporates within a day, less time than it takes for the plant to use up its leafy water resources.”
What you should do instead
So, if pre-soaking a terra cotta pot doesn’t do anything, what can you do to make sure your plant gets all the moisture it needs? Well…water it when it needs water. “Just water your plants thoroughly once you’ve potted them to the point of runoff out the drainage hole and they will be fine,” Tina Huffman, horticulturalist and landscape designer at greenhousestudio.co told Cottrell.
If you’re really concerned about making sure your plants get enough water — and are growing plants that you do not plan to eat — botanist Mindy McIntosh-Shetter told Cottrell that you can paint the inside of the pot, which will fill in the pores of the terra cotta and help prevent evaporation.