The Q&A Archives: Terra Cotta Clay Pots

Question: Will Terra cotta pots crack and split if left out over the winter with
the dirt in them?

I bought numerous pots last summer and now layers are peeling off.
The store from which I bought them told me it was my fault because
I left the dirt in them all winter. They said the dirt freezes and
expands and will cause this kind of damage. Would you please verify
this for me?

Answer: If you leave terra cotta pots outside during freezing weather, they will suffer. Unsealed terra cotta is porous so it absorbs water. Water expands when it freezes, so if there is moisture in the terra cotta it can cause it to splinter or peel off in bits, and if there is enough moisture it can cause the entire pot to break. I'm really sorry.

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