I posted a photo of the uniquely-shaped pottery that I came across at a local nursery, yesterday on facebook and asked you to guess what they were used for.

This unglazed pottery was commonly used in arid regions long ago to store both food and water.  They are called ollas.  

Ollas are making a comeback in the garden – particularly in arid regions.  

Why?


Ollas are a great way to deep water plants.

They are buried so that only the top is exposed.  Water is added and slowly seeps through the walls of the olla, providing uniform moisture to plant’s roots.

The top of the soil remains dry, so that evaporation is limited and decreases problems with weeds because their roots can’t reach the moist soil underneath.

Ollas can be used in vegetable gardens, containers and among other plants in your garden that may not be attached to an irrigation system.

To use, simply take the lid off, and fill with water. Every few days, refill and then let the water slowly percolate into the soil.


There are companies now making ollas for the home gardener.  They are not cheap.  The ones above were going for $35.  
I would love to buy one, but they are not in my budget right now.  Maybe I can add one to my Christmas list?

You can make your own inexpensive olla using a plastic milk jug or 2-liter soda bottle, with small holes punched all around and then bury it.

OR, you can take two unglazed tera-cota pots and glue them together with silicone.  *Learn how to make both types of homemade versions, here.

I really like when the old-fashioned ways of doing things come back into style.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t mean that the older ways of doing things is obsolete.

**For those of you who would like to purchase an olla, like the ones pictured above – they are available at local Summerwinds nurseries throughout the Phoenix area.

For those of you who live elsewhere, here is a link to the company who created the ollas in the photos above.
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

2 replies
  1. dryheatblog
    dryheatblog says:

    Interesting that these are getting so popular, first seeing them in Abq 10 years ago. I got a pair of small ollas in my recent SF bloggers fling bag, so I put them in a couple of my patio pots. We'll see how they work!

    Reply

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