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It is important to understand that plants suffer more from being wet than being dry: when they sit in water, the roots rot and the plant perishes.
To keep the roots “dry”, drainage is essential. For a small pot of up to 40cm in diameter, drainage is not necessary.
- For larger pots: place some gravel, small stones or clay pebbles in the bottom of the pot: a layer of between 10cm for a pot with a 50cm diameter and 30cm for a pot with a 100cm diameter.
- Place a piece of landscape fabric or old tights over this layer, making sure the fabric is turned up at the edges. This prevents the soil from blocking the bottom of the pot while letting the water drain out.
The use of sealed saucers
A sealed saucer, like those made by Poterie Ravel, retains the water when the plant is watered. In winter: remove the saucer from beneath your outdoor pots.
This is because rainwater sits in the saucer and keeps the base of the pot in water. This rises to the plant’s roots and damages it.
In winter: because the ground is soft, pots placed on soil will sink beneath their weight. This will block the drainage holes in the base of the pot, preventing water from running out, meaning the roots will become too wet. In addition, pots become more susceptible to frost damage when they are wet. For this reason, Ravel pots of at least 50cm in diameter have a hole in the side as well as in the base. Make sure this side hole remains clear.
We recommend raising your pot slightly off the ground (approx. 5mm) by placing it on tile spacers or similar. This prevents dirt and soil from gradually blocking the hole in the base of the pot so that water cannot drain out.
We recommend the use of pot feet, available from Poterie Ravel, which will enhance the look of your pot as well as make it easier for water to drain. Attention: if the plant has a lot of foliage, there is a greater risk of the pot being blown over when raised on feet. Either use more feet for stability, or do not use any at all.
Three natural elements can damage terracotta pots: snow, frost and wind. The quality and robustness of Ravel pots, recognised by all professionals, is achieved in several ways:
- the quality of the clay
- the production process and the firing
- a delicate combination of time and temperature to ensure uniformity of the terracotta
- as well as the final quality control.
Keep snow cleared from the pots as well as the plants themselves, as it can weigh down and break the leaves. And if snow is left on pots, when it melts the porous terracotta becomes soaked and more susceptible to frost damage. This can crack the pots: despite the quality of Ravel products, no terracotta can be completely guaranteed against frost damage.
To prevent frost damage, make sure the pot has good drainage. If there is a frost, the water will drain freely and the pot will withstand the pressure of wet, but not sodden, soil. Ravel pots are designed with thick sides for this purpose. If the pot drains poorly, persistent frost will freeze the stagnant water in the pot and place greater pressure on it, which can cause the terracotta to crack and split.
Prevent your pots from blowing over: wind can cause damage when thick, tall plants or shrubs are planted in pots. This makes the plant more likely to catch the wind and tip over, potentially cracking or breaking the pot.
To preserve the original colour of a terracotta pot and prevent the effects of ageing, we recommend spraying a waterproofing product – available from Poterie Ravel – onto the new, dry terracotta, inside and outside. This is applicable to pots used indoors, out of direct sunlight, as shade and damp encourage the growth of moss, which will darken the colour of the pot. Outdoor pots can also be waterproofed. Make sure you apply the product thoroughly and evenly, to avoid the pot becoming damaged by frost.
To avoid the pot staining, we advise soaking the terracotta before planting. Some soils are rich in soluble salts, which are absorbed by the terracotta and cause it to stain.
For jars of more than 50cm in height, we recommend buying an inner pot that sits inside the neck. This reduces the quantity of soil required and makes it easier to move the plant to a sheltered position in the winter.
As pots age, they gain a patina of moss due to the lack of light. Their colour darkens.
Apply diluted bleach (protect your hands, eyes and clothing) over the entire surface of the pot. Leave to work, then rinse thoroughly. This can be repeated if necessary. A high-pressure water hose can be used to remove moss without risk of damaging the pot.
As the pot ages, it becomes stained by salts from the water, which is often hard, as well as by plant feed and rainwater. The pot whitens due to these organic deposits.
Sold ready diluted, hydrochloric acid should be applied with a sponge over the entire surface of the pot (taking the necessary precautions to protect hands, eyes and clothing). Leave to work, then rinse thoroughly. This can be repeated if necessary.