Which Plants Grow Best in Terracotta Pots?

While many plants will benefit from the improved air circulation and faster moisture evaporation in terracotta pots, not all plants are suitable for these conditions.


Terracotta, which is made from natural, unglazed clay, may be the single most popular material for plant pots. There are many perks to growing plants in terracotta pots, and they’re perfect for indoor and outdoor container gardens. However, some plants are more suited to growing in clay pots than others. Here are some of the best plants to grow in terracotta, the ones to avoid, and an overview of why terracotta is so great for your plants.


Do Plants Grow Better in Terracotta Pots?

The porous nature of terracotta allows excess moisture to evaporate through the pot, which helps prevent complications from overwatering. It’s great for chillier, shadier regions, where it takes longer for soil moisture to evaporate. The risk of root rot is diminished, which is especially useful because root rot is notoriously difficult to treat! The warm, rusty brown color is on the lighter side of the spectrum, so it doesn’t absorb as much heat as dark-colored containers. Plus, it’s just a lovely natural shade that’s easy to incorporate into most color palettes. 

While many plants will benefit from the improved air circulation and faster moisture evaporation in terracotta pots, not all plants are suitable for these conditions. Varieties that need consistently moist soil will be hard to keep happy in terracotta, and you’ll need to water much more frequently.


Wallace's Garden Center-Iowa-Which Plants Grow Best in Terracotta-clay pots for saleChoosing the Best Terracotta Pots for Your Plants

The quality of your terracotta makes a big difference in the durability of your pots. Cheap terracotta is prone to cracking, but you can expect the good stuff to last for decades. To test the quality of your pot, place it upside down on a flat, hard surface, and tap on the edge of its base with a metal knife. If it makes a thud, it’s a dud. If it makes a resonant ringing sound, you’ve got a good one! The best terracotta usually comes from Italy, so checking the label to see its country of origin is also a good indicator of quality.


Wallace's Garden Center-Iowa-Which Plants Grow Best in Terracotta-houseplants in terracotta potsThese Are the Best Plants for Terracotta Pots

Plants that prefer to dry out a little—or entirely—before rewatering are the best choices for growing in terracotta. Drought-tolerant plants are also a good option—they can withstand extended periods of drought without succumbing to the heat. Here are our favorite varieties to grow in Iowa:


  • Succulents and cacti
  • Coneflowers
  • Salvia
  • Sansevieria
  • ZZ plants
  • Thyme and rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Black-Eyed Susan’s
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Gaillardia
  • Coreopsis


We have plenty more drought-tolerant plants available at our garden center in Iowa, so feel free to ask our staff for recommendations! 


Avoid Putting These Plants in Terracotta Pots

As previously mentioned, not all plants take kindly to letting their soil dry out between watering. Varieties that require consistently moist soil won’t be happy in terracotta pots, so you’re better off planting them in non-porous containers, like plastic or glazed ceramic. Here are some varieties to avoid if you’re using terracotta pottery in your container garden:



If you’re unsure if your chosen plants are suitable for growing in terracotta, give us a call or drop into our garden center! We always want to see your plants succeed, so we’ll be happy to provide you with tips for keeping them comfortable, hydrated, and growing green.


Wallace's Garden Center-Iowa-Which Plants Grow Best in Terracotta-broken pot planter

Find plenty of plants for terracotta in Iowa at Wallace’s Garden Center in Bettendorf! We have all sorts of garden flowers and plants to suit every space and soil type—whether your garden is shady and moist, sunny and dry, or somewhere in between. Our vast pottery collection has plenty of variety, so if you’d like to explore alternatives to natural clay pots, we have several styles to show you!


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