terracotta

How to protect terracotta pots from frost

Its that time of year again. Nights are drawing in, the first frost is on the horizon and we’re all starting to wrap up a lot warmer. But do your terracotta pots need to do the same?

Frost and harsh weather can cause problems with your pots if you are not prepared. Not to mention the damage that can be done to the plants inside them. In the summer the roots are protected by the warmth of the soil, but during the winter the same soil can become waterlogged or even frozen which is a sure-fire way to kiss goodbye to your lovely plants. 

While freezing is an obvious problem, waterlogging can be just as harmful.

So, how do you prepare?

Firstly, move plants that will not survive the winter outside. Young, tender plants should be moved indoors or to an unheated greenhouse. If the plant is winter hardy (can live outside during the colder months), then moving the pots against a house wall where they will be sheltered from cold wind and kept a little warmer will increase their chances. 


For the pots that will spend the winter outside, surprisingly one of the biggest enemies of survival is water. This is because a waterlogged pot has all of the air squeezed out of the soil which stops the roots from taking in oxygen. 

The best way to stop this is to get your pots off the ground. Pot feet are perfect for this and can be bought at all garden centers and DIY stores but you can easily improvise your own - wine corks, bits of old slate, or even lego bricks will all work just as well.  Secondly, get the pots out of the worst of the rain; moving the pots to under the eaves of the house, under a tree, or in the shelter of a wall will all help to protect against the worst downpours.


To prevent frost damage you can wrap your pots in a makeshift duvet - bubble wrap makes an ideal blanket or even straw wrapped in a plastic bag can keep the worst of the frost off. Just watch out for slugs nesting under there!

Bob Harrison