Ted Tucker

Posh Pots

Once verging on dowdy, ordinary terra-cotta flowerpots have been transformed in these pots of color. With a simple process using paint, sandpaper, and shellac, terra-cotta can stand up with style.

These faux glazed pots have all the panache of the plants they’re filled with: hot orchids, cool cypress, and playful herbs.

Cottage Living, Ted Tucker

Gather the Goods

• Terra-cotta flowerpots
• Paintbrushes
• Concrete water-proofing sealer (such as Seal-Krete)
• Latex exterior house paint
• Fine-grit sandpaper
• Rags
• Clear shellac

Shown here: Heat things up with tropical orchids and bromeliads; (from left) Cymbidium hybrid, Cryptanthus bivittatus ‘Pink Starlite,’ and Howeara Lava Burst ‘Puanani.’

green cypress
Ted Tucker


Step 1: Wash pot and remove dust and dirt. Dry completely.

Step 2: Use a paintbrush to apply at least one coat of concrete waterproofing sealer to the interior of the pot. Allow to dry.

Step 3: Apply the first coat of paint to the pot's exterior, and dry for 24 hours.

Shown here: Keep it evergreen with miniature cypress trees, such as (from left) False Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) ‘Ellwoodii,’ Garden Cypress, and Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens).

Ted Tucker

Steps, Continued

Step 4: Sand lightly and remove dust with a rag. Apply two more coats of paint, sanding and wiping after each coat has dried for 24 hours.

Step 5: Apply a thin coat of shellac to pot exterior. After shellac has dried completely, lightly sand and wipe down. Repeat process for second coat. When dry, apply the final layer of shellac.

Shown here: Grow a garden of herbs. You can usually find live plants in the produce section at the grocery store. Any 4-inch potted herb will do. We chose (from left) wheatgrass, lavender, and rosemary.

empty pots
Ted Tucker

Tips and Tricks

• Choose darker colors to make terra-cotta pots look especially rich.

• Use leftover house or trim paint for color-coordinated pots.

• Clear shellac can have a slightly yellow tint, which will show up on white or light-colored pots. If this bothers you, apply one coat of shellac instead of three.

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