How to Paint Terra Cotta Planters for Outside Gardens

Creating Unique Garden Planters

Finding just the right design and color of planters for your garden isn’t always easy, but with a little effort you can paint terra cotta planters in any design your prefer to add color and style to your garden. The trick, of course is to use the right techniques to create a painted terra cotta planter that will withstand weather and still look great.

Preparing the Terra Cotta Planter

If your terra cotta planter has been used, the first step is to give it a through cleaning. New planters benefit from a wash with cold water, but typically are ready for painting.

Washing Terra Cotta

Spray down the planter with water to remove surface soil and plant residue. Soak the entire pot in a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water. This removes salt and fertilizer residue and kills any contaminants on the planter.

Bleach and Water Soak

Allow the pot to soak for 12 to 24 hours. Remove from the water and scrub thoroughly with a stiff brush to remove any crusty white build up around the rim of the pot. Rinse with cold water and then soak in plain water for 15 minutes to remove traces of bleach. Allow the pot to air dry.

Apply a Base Coat

Coat the terra cotta planter with clear acrylic spray or with a base coat of paint. Make sure to cover both the inside and outside of the pot (as well as the bottom). This creates a moisture seal and prevents water from seeping into the pot from the soil and damaging the paint on the outside of the pot. Allow to dry thoroughly. Repeat with a second coat to secure the seal.

Adding Decorative Designs

Paint the desired design on the outside of the pot with water based acrylic. Use a sponge brush or spray, if preferred. You may wish to paint your terra cotta planter free hand, or use stencils for decorative designs. Always allow paint to dry before adding new colors to prevent smudges.

Sealing the Terra Cotta Planter

Allow the finished design to dry completely. Seal with a two coats of clear acrylic to maintain the design and prevent damage from the weather.

Using the Terra Cotta Planter

Fill with soil, once the planter is dried. Transplant your favorite flowers into the planter and place in the desired location. Proper preparation of your terra cotta planter assures you that all your hard work will weather the storms and will last for years.


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