How to Make New Plastic Pots Look Old with Paint

INSIDE: How to make brand new plastic terra cotta flower pots look aged and weathered with paint, water and a sanding block.

We commandeered my father-in-law’s very old and very rusty metal wheelbarrow that he had brought over for a landscaping project last summer. The moment I saw this rusted thing emerge from his trunk, I knew I wanted it. Not for moving rocks or dirt but as part of my landscape decor!

Once he realized his old-time wheelbarrow had found itself a new home (and we ordered him a heavy duty plastic yard cart to sweeten the deal), I worked on filling it full of varied pots and plants. A shiny new flower pot would not fit the look I was after and I don’t have the patience to wait for “real” clay terra cotta pot to age.

So instead I found an easy way to age plastic terra cotta flower pots instead…

While I love the look of real terra cotta, especially as it wears and ages, it is not the most practical in my ‘hood. See, I live in the southwest – Arizona – home of the University of Arizona wildcats, soaring saguaro cactus, gorgeous sunsets…and wild “pigs” known as javalina.

These interesting-looking mammals come out at dusk and travel in herds, riffling through garbage cans, eating newly planted vegetation and knocking over a wheelbarrow of potted plants. Technically, this hasn’t happened yet but I know it will. I’ve probably just jinxed my wheelbarrow luck!

So when this nighttime mishap happens, I’ll need only replace a few plants and not pots (thus: plastic). It’s taken me 11 years but I’m finally figuring out how the desert works!


To mimic the look of aged terra cotta, you will need:
– plastic flower pots
– self etching primer
– patio craft paint in white + paint brush
– outdoor craft paint – blue (optional)
– sanding block
– disposal bowl
– paper towel or old rag


‘Faking It’ Step #1

Paint does not adhere (permanently) to plastic or coated surfaces.

Give the plastic flower pots a spray with the self etching primer. I did mine sparingly and not a full coat.

‘Putting On An Act’ Step #2

Pour the white paint into a disposal bowl and add some water. Enough to water it down.

Cover your work area. Apply the watered down paint to a section of the flower pot and immediately wipe with the paper towel.

Repeat this process until the pot is covered and you like how it looks.

‘It’s All a Show’ Step #3

I then repeated the above process with some watered down blue patio paint, just to add a touch of color.


‘Make Believe’ Step #4

Once dry, I used a sanding block to rough it up and give it more of an aged look.

And there is your fast and easy way to take an inexpensive plastic flower pot and make it look more like aged terra cotta…but one that can withstand some curious javalina!

What garden tricks have you discovered?

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