top of page

Cretan Terracotta refers to pots from Crete, the largest Island off the Greek coast.

The history of Cretan terracotta can be traced back to the Minoan civilisation, around 3000 BC. The Minoan's used large open neck pots (shown above) called Pithoi to store grains & liquids and to decorate palaces.


Today, thousands of years later, the same pots can be recognised in private gardens and hotels around the UK - now housing Specimen Trees, Topiary, flowers and herbs... or simply standing gracefully as a feature.

How are they made?

Cretan terracotta pots are hand-thrown on a potters wheel. A skill that takes years to learn, passed down from one generation to the next.


Large pots are shaped and worked in layers over multiple days. This ensures they do not fall-in on themselves.


Once the newly thrown pots have dried, they are fired in a kiln for a total of 3 days. 


On the first day the temperature slowly rises until it reaches an unbearable heat of around 1150 Celsius.

On the third day the kiln slowly cools back down.

This process is key to why Cretan pots decades (and longer!)


Once the pots have been removed from the kiln and cooled down, they are soaked with water for a further 2 days.

This is all part of the traditional process.


The end result of this lengthy process is a beautiful pot, frost-resistant and each different to the last... a larger thumbprint here, a wavier line there....

It's no surprise Cretan terracotta pots are seen in the most prestigious gardens and adored by gardeners and Designers.

Why is Cretan Terracotta so good?

Each pot is a celebration of skill passed down from one generation to the next. No nasty chemicals are used in the process and each pot should last a lifetime.

Arguably the key benefit is the fact that Cretan terracotta is extremely frost-resistant. This is because these pots are fired hotter and longer than your typical terracotta pot. Clients of mine have owned Cretan pots for over 20 years and they last to this day crack-free.


Ensuring your potted mixture is well-draining is key to your pots survival. Standing water will only freeze and expand, forcing pressure on the walls. It's always a good idea to raise your pots.

On top of being very hardy, plants thrive in Cretan terracotta. This is because the walls of the clay are very porous. This means that on top of relying on drainage holes - excess water is able to escape through the walls of the pot.

The colour... On a Summers afternoon the warm glow given off from new Cretan terracotta is divine!

Lastly, the way they weather... because Cretan pots are so porous, they age very quickly. This means that within the first year you will notice your pot taking on a delightful, almost milky white colour. A few years after this, depending on the situation of the pot in your garden, they will begin to develop black patches from the elements. In around 10 years they will look sensational.

bottom of page