Why You Should Not Leave Clay Pots Outdoors in Winter

Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 08:20 pm

Whether empty or planted, clay pots should be left outdoors through the winter only under certain conditions.

Why You Should Not Leave Clay Pots Outdoors in Winter
Even “hardy” clay pots should not spend the winter outdoors without precautions

Why You Should Not Leave Clay Pots Outdoors in Winter

Leaving clay pots outdoors during the winter months can be detrimental to the pots and potentially harm the plants inside them. Here are several reasons why it’s not advisable to leave clay pots outside during the winter:

  1. Freezing and Thawing: Clay pots are porous, which means they can absorb moisture. During winter, when water in the pot soil freezes, it expands. This expansion can cause the clay to crack or break. Repeated freezing and thawing cycles can result in significant damage to the pots.
  2. Weakening and Cracking: Even without freezing temperatures, cold weather can make clay pots more brittle. This increased fragility makes them susceptible to cracking or chipping, especially if they are bumped or knocked over.
  3. Plant Damage: When clay pots crack, plants can suffer as a result. The roots of the plant may be exposed to cold temperatures and drying winds, which can harm or kill the plant. Cracked pots may also allow water to drain too quickly, leading to dehydration of the plants.
  4. Difficulty in Watering: If clay pots become partially frozen, the soil inside can become hard and compacted, making it challenging to water properly. The water may not penetrate the soil effectively, leaving the plant’s roots thirsty.
  5. Aesthetic Concerns: Cracked or damaged clay pots can be unsightly and detract from the overall appearance of your garden or outdoor space.
See also  What Animal Is Digging Holes In My Garden At Night?

To protect your clay pots during the winter, consider the following tips:

  • Store Indoors: The best way to protect your clay pots during the winter is to store them indoors, where they are not exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • Empty and Clean: Before storing, empty the pots of soil, clean them, and allow them to dry completely to prevent moisture from being trapped in the pots.
  • Use Protective Covers: If you have space constraints and need to leave pots outside, consider using pot covers, insulating materials, or even moving the pots closer to your home where they may experience slightly warmer conditions.
  • Elevate Off the Ground: If you must leave pots outside, place them on pot feet or bricks to prevent them from sitting directly on the cold ground. This can help reduce the likelihood of freezing.

In summary, it’s best to protect your clay pots from winter conditions to ensure their longevity and to keep your plants healthy. Storing them indoors is the safest option, while taking precautions when storing them outdoors can also help prevent damage.

Even the smallest hairline crack is enough to cause a clay pot to burst in winter – even if the terracotta is declared “frost-resistant”. Water can penetrate through small damages that easily occur unnoticed when handling pots and moving them. If the water freezes in winter, it can crack the pot or at least cause the glaze to peel. In particular, frequent freezing and thawing is unfavorable for clay pots.

For a long life, clay pots should therefore, if possible, always be wintered frost-free or at least under a roof. If this is not possible, it is advisable to place them elevated (e.g. on wooden slats) so that they do not freeze to the ground – and upside down, so that no water can collect in them.

See also  How to Grow Big Leeks

Clay pots are a beautiful and timeless way to bring a touch of nature into your home. However, if you want to keep them looking their best, it’s important to remember that they should not be left outdoors during winter. Clay is porous and can absorb water, which can cause it to crack or break in cold temperatures. Additionally, freezing temperatures can cause the glaze on the pottery to crack or flake off. To ensure that your clay pots last for years, take them indoors during the winter months.

If a clay pot should break after all …

… then it is hopefully also no drama. After all, shards bring luck! In addition, larger shards of clay can be reused as creative planting bowls or integrated into the “wild” corner of the garden as a shelter for beneficial insects.

Why You Should Not Leave Clay Pots Outdoors in Winter
Larger clay pot shards can be turned into planters


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-jones-436784297/ gardeninguru@outlook.com Jones James