The first frost of the year is finally upon-us! After this wonderful event, there's no better time for me to write my first post on how you can help your pots survive the coming Winter.
All of my Cretan Terracotta is frost-resistant (technically speaking, not frost-proof), but it is easily to fall into a routine that may be harmful to your pots.
Rule No.1 - Drainage
This is the utmost important rule.
The most common cause leading to cracked pots is poor drainage. Poor drainage leads to standing water (which isn't very good for your plants anyway) and once the temperate drops below freezing, your standing water will freeze. As terracotta is porous, the micro-canals in the walls will be full of water - and we all know what happens when a can or bottle is left in the freezer. POP!
Rule No.2 - Raise your pots
Following Rule No.1 comes Rule No.2...
To assist drainage you should raise your pots off the ground. To do this you can simply use blocks of wood or stone (just remember not to cover the drainage roles underneath) and there are even decorative terracotta pot 'feet' you can buy online.
Leaving pots sat on flat surface will result in the drainage holes being effectively plugged.
Rule No. 3 - Over-Watering
At this time of the year plants do not need a lot of water. Technically speaking, photosynthesis slows and growth generally stops. So don't feed unnecessary water into your pots - plants won't need it and refer to Rule No.1!
It may seem obvious once mentioned but easily overlooked if not!
Rule No.4 - Wrap Up
Once the temperature starts to really drop, it is a good idea to add a layer of insulation around your pot. This can be done by wrapping it with a fleece, sacking, or bubble wrap. Doing this will help ward off the cold from penetrating your pot.
Rule No. 5 - Location
An interesting rule that is easily overlooked.
Consider changing the actual location of the pots in your garden. Position near walls to reduce rainfall by up to 25%.
Less rain = less water... and this all falls back to Rule No.1!
Rule No.6 - Time Out
If you have done all of the above but are still concerned - the last step is to retire your terracotta indoors.
Depending on the size of your pot and what's planted, you may need help moving it. Just remember to lift from the base to reduce strain on the rim or any decorative handles.