DIY painted terracotta pots

May 19, 2014

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blogI’ve been wanting to add some green into my life, but after killing my tomato and basil plants—both of which are considered “starter plants”—I thought I should dial it way back to botany 101. Enter: the succulent. Thanks to their desert-friendly personality, the succulent is a hands-off plant. Forget to water them? Not a problem! That sounded like a good fit for my black thumb.

Succulents come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but I was more excited about the pot they’d call home. I started with a classic terracotta base, and for each pot I chose three different designs, working with a color palette of pink, gold, white, and turquoise. I wanted the designs to look very distinct but like they were part of a family. The colors were bright (just the way I like them) and would go well with our teal and white-themed bedroom.

Few may know this, but I actually love painting and always think about nurturing my interest with some proper classes. For now, this DIY was a great way to get back into the flow. It was fun, easy, and took just an afternoon to finish, and the pattern and color possibilities are endless. Here’s how it went down:

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog


  • Terracotta pots and saucers (I chose 4″ pots, each $3. Ideally I get them cheaper at a thrift store, but my local shop was selling each for $3.50!)
  • Acrylic paints (Terracotta is a porous material, so be safe and go with acrylic, which is non-toxic.)
  • Foam brushes of different sizes
  • Paintbrush (Actually, mine is an eyeshadow brush I haven’t used for years.)
  • Something to cover your workspace.
  • Don’t mind the tube of puffy paint. I had an idea for a design using it, but it bombed.
  • Not pictured: masking tape

I picked up my plants and cactus soil (specially formulated for proper drainage) at Mission Hills Nursery, a wonderful local shop with a knowledgeable staff. If you’re not in San Diego, I recommend you support your local nursery! Small businesses, all the way.

Now, I’ve seen different theories on painting terracotta pots. This how-to from SF Gate is quite comprehensive, and involves bleaching the inside of the pot and sealing the outside with a terracotta sealer. Then, there are other people (ahem, bloggers, ahem) who just slap some non-toxic paint on the pots and call it a day. My method is the latter. (Sorry, I’m not sorry.) Since my plants will be indoors without much direct sunlight, I didn’t bother with the extra steps. But if yours will be outside, you might want to try the Gate‘s version to protect the pots.

How did I decide on the patterns? I love the simplicity of color-blocking, so that was definitely going to be one pot. Masking tape made the color split a cinch, but wrapping tape around a conical pot in one straight line is hard. My line wasn’t 100% even, but I prefer the imperfection.

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog

I pulled inspiration for the splotch print from this Etsy find. It’s my favorite pot of the trio. It also happened to be the easiest to make. No tricky masking tape, no need for accuracy. And I’m happy that my Estée Lauder brush was finally put to good use.

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog

I wanted one pot to show a little terracotta color in its natural glory. The triple stripe pot, hiding in the back left, was a way to do that and incorporate almost all the colors. I also liked how it felt sporty, like an Adidas track suit. That said, trying to get those lines straight was a mother. I basically just used masking tape for the bottom lines and eyed the top line of each stripe myself. Some portions were more successful than others.

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog

All in all, I’m so happy with the project, which totaled about $50. I found the painting process extremely soothing, and what I’m left with is an awesome piece of homemade art. If you’re a friend or family member, you may see some DIY pots in your future. They make lovely gifts.

And if you’re into the DIY part and less enthusiastic about plants, this craft idea might be right up your alley. Happy painting!

DIY painted terracotta pots // My SoCal'd Life, a lifestyle blog

6 thoughts on “DIY painted terracotta pots

  1. Daisy

    How vibrant! These will surely brighten any space! Question though, how do you keep water from seeping out through terracotta and bubbling the paint? I’ve painted pots with acrylic before and didn’t seal the inside and always had this problem. Hoping to find a plant friendly waterproof sealer to apply to the inside…

    1. Archana Post author

      Hi Daisy! I went the lazy route and didn’t seal it, but if you check out the SF Gate’s more thorough article on painting terracotta — I linked to it in my post — that should help, as they suggest a dealer. Good luck! Thanks for reading!

  2. Pri

    These are gorgeous. I saw something similar on @babyboybakery’s blog. I think you’ve inspired me! I’m gonna try it.


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