Although terracotta has been used architecturally for many centuries, it wasn’t until a couple of decades ago that people started to use it for household purposes. It’s hardly surprising that the benefits of terracotta pots were soon realised as the thickness of them guarantees resistance to weather and ageing and they are plant friendly due to the colour and texture of the material.
Terracotta pots (baked earth) are baked clay that has not been glazed and is also applied to the reddish-brown colour considered most typical of the material. The popularity of terracotta pots has grown over the years due to the fact that the range of pots available continues to improve whilst still maintaining reasonable prices. As well as this, almost any plant looks good in a terracotta pot regardless of whether you are growing it inside, in the greenhouse or out in the garden. You can buy them in a wide range of shapes and sizes and either plain or decorated so you are very likely to find a design that matches your existing decor. If you keep your plants in the garden you can even be rest assured that your terracotta pots are safe in winter because as they are fired at such high temperatures they are frost resistant.
Terracotta pots originate from their use throughout history for sculpture and pottery and bricks and roof shingles. In ancient times, the first clay sculptures were dried (baked) in the sun after being found and were then placed in the ashes of open hearths to harden. Kilns were then used, similar to those that are more traditionally used for pottery today.
Most people think of terracotta pots as something you find in your garden. However, terracotta has been used for many centuries around the world. The most famous terra cotta statues are those of the terra cotta warriors in China and another significant user of terracotta has been Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army of China. American architect Louis Sullivan is well-known for his elaborate glazed terracotta ornamentation which is only possible with terracotta. Terracotta has also been used extensively in the town buildings of Victorian Birmingham, England and pre-colonial West African sculpture also made extensive use of terracotta.
Other reasons why terracotta pots have become so popular include the fact that they are much lighter than other materials and it can be further glazed to produce objects with colour. In fact, they make perfect plant pots because not only are they hard-wearing but they look good as well.
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