Asked on Jun 21, 2019

How to paint terracotta pots that are already planted?

by Wayde

Hello there, hope you are well. I have a bunch of small terracotta pots that are already planted with dirt/succulents that I want to decorate. I was hoping to spray paint them but am worried about the paint seeping through into the soil since I know the terracotta is a porous material. If I were to use a sealer first on the outside of the pot (I know many people recommend sealing the inside of the pot first but this is of course not an option for me at this stage) and then use spray paint would that help protect the plants? Would the sealer just seep through and cause any issues? I do notice that the terracotta gets a bit moist when I water the plants. I was planning on putting painter's tape on the rim of the pot and then covering the plants themselves with a plastic bag to ensure no paint gets near the dirt or the plants. If painting at this stage would be a bad idea (it would be too cumbersome to remove each and every plant, clean the pot, etc.) would you guys have any other suggestions for a safe way to spruce up these pots? I thought about using stickers but that looks kind of cheesy to me and of course with the moisture of the pots perhaps the stickers won't stay on for long. Any thoughts or advice you may have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!!

  6 answers
  • Em Em on Jun 21, 2019

    Use milk paint or chalk paint and then seal with wax or a coating of polyurethane your brush on. Although clay pots are porous, the paint should not harm your plants. You can spray paint, and your idea with the plastic bag is good, but I don't use aerosol paint unless I have to.

    • Wayde Wayde on Jun 22, 2019

      Thank you Em! I may try chalk or milk paint since I just tried another idea (outlined below) that is failing to work. Appreciate you taking the time to respond!

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Jun 21, 2019

    Wayde....With the dirt and plants already in the pot I would not spray paint but you could possibly place on a shelf or something high so you could reach (and see what you are doing) and paint with a brush. This will help you get under the top lip as you move it around w/o bothering the plant should it be hanging over a little. I hope this is making sense to you! On the other hand, you can buy some pretty napkins with bugs, flowers, etc., use one ply only and tear the item you want to use off carefully then use mod podge to adhere to the pot. You can find napkins with little sayings .... soooo many. Use mod podge on pot first, apply napkin then mod podge on top of it. You can seal with polyurethane. Good luck!

    • Wayde Wayde on Jun 22, 2019

      Hello, I definitely understood and it made sense to me, I certainly wish I had not already planted these pots! I am not too artistic but just trying to make this project not look so much like a young clueless "bro" put it together even though that's exactly what happened...

  • Krafty Mrs.K Krafty Mrs.K on Jun 21, 2019

    I have used plastic bags over my herbs when touching up the spray paint on my plastic pots. I just buried the edges of the bag around the inside of the pot.

    Your challenge will be terra cotta will hold moisture which will cause the paint to peal but you can't let the plants completely dry out. I would try it when as dry as possible.

    I have also added mosaic tile or broken plates to terra cotta pots. I save my dropped and broken plates for this.

    • Wayde Wayde on Jun 22, 2019

      Hello Mrs. K, thank you for your ideas! I may try some mosaics or perhaps gluing some other pieces on to the pots. I just tried another idea (outlined below) and it is failing. I understand the concern over spray paint and wish I had done this before planting as now anything I try seems a bit difficult while they are already planted. Thanks so much for writing in!

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Jun 21, 2019

    people always want to seal/paint terra cotta pots---the whole idea behind using terra cotta is so the plants/roots can breathe thus them being pourous. However if you insist.... it needs sealed from the inside of pot because if you just do outside the terra cotta will get moist from inside and fall apart or whatever is on outside paint/sealer will begin to peel off. Succulents need to be on drier side so the unsealed terra cotta pots are good for them,just use some saucers under them so they do not get surface they are sitting on wet or stained. you can get lots of nice things to use as saucers at Goodwill--teacups,crystal trays etc..

    • Wayde Wayde on Jun 22, 2019

      Hello Lynn, thank you for taking the time to write in! I realize now the concern with using paint and potentially blocking the porous material of the pots. I have just tried a new decoration method (outlined below) and may have to try something else. I thought perhaps using tape and twine would be easy enough for me to figure out but it is more difficult than anticipated. I do have saucers under each pot (they are 4 inch pots). I have them in a geometric design on a wall outside my house (the pots sit on mini shelves) but there is just so much of the terracotta color that I was hoping to add a little spice to them. Thanks again for taking the time to write in!

  • Wayde Wayde on Jun 22, 2019

    Hello all, thank you for your suggestions and comments! Based on the concern over using spray paint and the safety of the plants being able to have their roots breathe properly, I just tried a different method. I found some nice metallic "washi" tape and some twine. I figured I would wrap the pots in some tape and then tie a bow using twine around the top to give it nicer look than just plain terracotta. I have come to find that both trying to use tape and trying to tie twine around the sloped portion of the pot to be extremely difficult. I now wish I had just done spray paint as that would have been so much easier. Getting twine around the more straight rim of the pot is doable, but getting the decorative tape on the body of the pot has not worked. Clearly I am a novice here - I am a dude that is not the artsy craftsy type, just trying to jazz up this massive collection of terracotta pots into something that looks nicer for the home. I actually have all the pots in a design with shelves on the wall leading into my home but it looks bland with so much terracotta color. I thought I could at least handle tape and twine but apparently not. I appreciate any other suggestions you guys may have! Thanks again!

    And just for reference, the pots are only 4-inches (for small succulents) do have drainage holes and I have saucers underneath all of them.

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Jun 23, 2021

    I did this a couple of years ago for my daughter's wedding. I taped plastic around the plants and spray-painted the planters. Worked great!