repair crumbling clay pots

Terra Cotta Pot Repair

Introduction: Terra Cotta Pot Repair

My Wife and Mother in-law went shopping and came back with a largish palm type of plant. We had a large terra cotta pot to put it in but it had been broken by freeze/thaw last winter.

Cheapness is the mother of all invention, so I decided to fix the pot.

Please note, if you hurt or injure yourself, others or cause damage to your property or any one else’s property, I accept no responsibility in any way shape or form, now or in the future, even if the concept, concepts, dangers, unintended and intended consequences or anything else you see here or as a result of seeing this instrucable.

If you don’t have common sense or have hands like frozen hams, then go watch TV

Step 1: Check the Fit.

I didn’t invent anything for this instructable, but it’s a good idea to fit the pieces together for two reasons; to check if it is actually worth while fixing the pot. Secondly you get an idea how to put the pieces together, once you’ve applied glue. I found that when I had the glue on and put the parts together, I had to fidget them a bit but the crack still showed. Nothing is perfect. These pots always seem to crack from the bottom, where the drain hole is and where the water would collect in the winter freeze and thaw process.

In this picture, at about ten o’clock, you can see one side of the crack. The other is pointing to about the two o’clock position.

Important point: I used scrap bits of wood to prevent the pot from rolling off the table.

Step 2: The Tool and Materials List

A broken clay (terracotta) flower pot that’s worth fixing
Glue; I used epoxy
A shop brush or whisk
Twine or something to firmly hold parts together while the glue cures.
Bits O Wood

Make sure the parts that are being glued are clean and dry, but that’ common sense, isn’t it?

Step 3: The Glueing

Um, forgot to take a picture for this.

The basic process is to mix the glue according to the instructions of the manufacturer. I used the liquid epoxy, but the next time I need to get some, I’ll get the gel, which would have given me a bit more time to take a picture. Read your instructions on the glue.

In any case, you can see the glue oozing from the cracks. I tried to keep the glue on the inside edges in order to keep things neat. Definetley getting the gel epoxy next time.

Perhaps even better would have been to use some PL200.

Step 4: Ta Da!

So, the epoxy cost 5 bucks or so.

A new pot would have been fifteen to twenty bucks. Looking forward to any comments. Now that I’ve done my first instructable!

Terra Cotta Pot Repair: My Wife and Mother in-law went shopping and came back with a largish palm type of plant. We had a large terra cotta pot to put it in but it had been broken by freeze/thaw last winter… Cheapness is the mother of all invention, so I decided to fix…

Re: crumbling terracotta

Hello All:
I am wondering if anyone can tell me why one of the terracotta pots on my deck is beginning to deteriorate on the outside near the bottom. I have two such large pots on the back deck from different origins. The crumbling one has a somewhat more porous surface, and about 2 or 3 inches around the bottom of the pot, the outer layer of clay is puffing up and then crumbling off. The pot is elevated on a sturdy little rolling palate my husband built for all my pots, so it always drains well. I have two suspicions: 1 is that the large amount of fertilizer that I give this greedy plant to keep it happy is somehow concentrating near the bottom and adversely affecting it. I'm not completely happy with this hypothesis, however, as the pot next to it, granted from a different pottery, which receives the same fertilizer regimen is fine, and because there is a layer of rock at the bottom that should keep the water from standing. I suppose it is possible that the salts are coming out of solution as they work their way to the bottom and clinging to the rock layer. My second thought is that the nasty little mites (or some other offensive pest) that have been a bane to this plant's existence, and a constant source of work to keep in check, are somehow laying eggs beneath the surface and heaving it up. I'm not convinced of this either, though, as I can't see why they would travel to the bottom of the pot! I only put this much work into these two plants as I love them so!

Not all terracotta pots are equally well made, as someone else has suggested for instance Mexican pots tend to come in the less satisfactory category. I am pretty sure you are right though that the damage has been made worse (maybe even started) by excess fertilizer salts. Unglazed terracotta pots are notoriously bad at retaining water in hot weather due to evaporation of water travelling out to the surface through the material's numerous pores and if there is a lot of dissolved salt in that water it will pass out too..

One thing you may be able to do when you buy any new pot of this kind is to help protect it by painting the inside with a special goop to seal the surface. This decreases porosity and so reduces the need for watering in dry weather which can be a pain..

There is more than one kind of this sealing paint available here The one I have used is a local product called Terraseal. It looks like a grey kaolin and you paint it on thickly inside your new pot and then fill up with the mix just before the stuff is dry. With this surprising start it seems to work very well keeping water from seeping out the sides. I am sure there must be many similar products available in your much larger market.

Myself I use very few unglazed terracotta pots anyway, preferring either glazed ones or ones made of heavy plastic. Apart from using an internal sealing paint one can also line the terracotta with a slightly smaller plastic pot or even make a liner out of heavy plastic film with suitable holes pierced in the bottom.

As to the salts coming out of solution round the bottom of your pot. If one is using an artificial feeding regime this is not uncommon and it is usually recommended to give a big flushing with clear water from time to time to clear out the excess from both the mix and the pot fabric.

I would never myself use chemical fertilizers in any pot apart from slow-release types, which let no more of their content seep into the mix than the plant can use at any one time, so there is no excess to accumulate. For extra boosts I use only natural materials such as fish or seaweed extracts which do not create residues.


      crumbling terracotta

        From: “Reid Family”

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medit-plants | Re: crumbling terracotta | Tue, 8 Jun 2004 18:19:36