It’s a phrase I hear at least once or twice a year when handling a plant in a terracotta pot. It is usually uttered moments after a hard crash.
Who am I kidding? It is said more often than once or twice a year.
If you’re human like me, you’ve also broken your fair share of terracotta pots. Accidents happen and broken pots are inevitable when using ceramics in the garden.
However, it always feels like a waste.
More commonly, a hard frost can freeze the water absorbed in your terracotta pot causing it to crack and then split.
But before you throw in the pieces, wait a minute and see all the ways you can repurpose those orange pottery shards. The pot may be cracked, but you can still take advantage of it. Save yourself the guilt that comes with throwing them out.
We’ve rounded up a bunch of great ways you can give your broken terracotta pots a new lease of life, from practical to beautiful.
1. Terracotta mulch
Take out your frustration with the broken pot and smash it some more. For houseplants, look for pieces about the size of nickels and dimes. For larger potted plants outdoors or around the garden, break the terracotta into pieces.
Use crushed terra cotta mulch as a ground cover where it will retain moisture, keep weeds at bay, prevent animals from digging into the ground, and keep the soil warm by absorbing the sun’s heat. If you cover your houseplants with terracotta pieces, it can also help prevent fungus gnats.
2. Create Rustic Plant Tags
I love the look of a rustic, well-kept garden, don’t you? With plants popping out of their containers and flowers and vines trailing along the paths, it always feels a bit wild. In keeping with this rustic look, use the broken edges of terracotta pots as plant markers.
Use a permanent marker or paint marker to write the names of the plants on the borders. Add a rustic trellis made from sticks from your yard and you’re halfway to Hobbiton.
3. Plant a small tiered garden
Tiered gardens are impressive, whether they are large enough to walk on the levels or small enough to fit the entire garden in one pot. They combine the structured look of steps with the wildness of growing things. Save the broken terracotta pot rims and use them to create your own tiered garden.
You can even use another broken terracotta pot to make a small stepped garden inside. Or give it a more freehand look by creating the levels directly on the floor. If you are clumsy like me, you can add new levels every time you break another pot.
4. Toad House
Depending on how much of the pot remains intact, it can serve as the perfect abode for amphibians. You can go all out and paint the broken planter to make it look like a tiny house or keep the homey feel and use it as is.
Place several toad houses in terracotta pots around your garden to encourage these helpful visitors to stay and eat harmful insects. Place them in shady areas that stay cool and moist for the best chance of attracting toads.
And don’t stop there; there’s more you can do to help invite these helpful animals to hang out in your yard.
5. Fairy Garden
Fairy gardens are a great way to get the youngsters in your life interested in gardening. Most garden centers sell small accessories to outfit your fairy garden. And if you want a truly unique fairy garden, check out all the fantastic handmade accessories on Etsy.
Use broken terracotta pots to represent little scenes that look like fairies have taken up residence in them.
Try placing these little vignettes in places in your garden that are not immediately obvious. It makes stumbling across them all the more of a surprise when others see them as if fairies are living secret lives in your garden. It gives the whole thing a more realistic feel. You know, as realistic as fairies.
6. Terracotta steps
Grab a stepping mold and a few bags of quick-setting concrete and mix up a batch of terracotta stepping stones. The beautiful earthy orange looks lovely amidst a sea of green grass.
Be sure to place the pieces concave side down and press them firmly into the concrete so no sharp edges stick out.
Who knows, you might love the look so much that you find yourself with a permanent case of butter fingers every time you handle terracotta pots. oops! There are only three more steps to go.
7. Terracotta mosaic
If you don’t need steps, use the same mold and concrete to create beautiful mosaics using smaller pieces of broken terracotta. Keep your shapes simple but bold, like the sun or a flower, and you’ll have a gorgeous mosaic to adorn your garden that will last for years.
8. Cover the drainage holes
I always keep a few broken terracotta pieces on hand just for this purpose. We all know the importance of using a pot with a drainage hole, but water isn’t the only thing that gets washed away. Over time, you can lose quite a bit of soil through the drainage hole in a pot.
To prevent soil from washing out but still allow water to drain, place a couple of pieces of broken terracotta over the hole before adding soil to the pot.
9. Rustic Succulent Garden
Plant a group of small succulents inside the remains of a broken planter for a rustic garden that looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Terracotta is perfect as its porous nature prevents succulents from overwatering.
10. Flower Garden Spilled
If you still have a lot of marijuana left intact, tip it on its side and bury some of it in the ground. Plant flowers, so that it looks like they are spilling out. Gives your garden an aged and slightly wild look. Or if you have a hole in the side of the pot, tilt it back up and plant flowers to grow out of the hole. You will have a well-kept overgrown garden.
There’s no need to throw away your broken terra cotta ever again, not when there are so many great ways to repurpose the pieces. Store your broken shards where they won’t be stepped on until you use them. Always be careful when handling broken pieces as you can cut yourself on the sharp edges. And resist the urge to break pots on purpose to give yourself more chunks.