Irrigation With Ollas

Ollas – Clay Pots For Irrigation

I saw these ollas displayed for sale at the North Carolina Botanical Garden yesterday. Bury the unglazed clay pot leaving about 2 inches of the neck exposed. Fill with water. Plant within 18 inches from the center of the olla (creating a 3 foot circle that will be irrigated by the olla). Tempting. Have you tried this technique?

Ollas – Clay Pots For Irrigation

Ollas – Clay Pots For Irrigation

31 thoughts on “Irrigation With Ollas

      1. theshrubqueen

        I have redone my irrigation with microsprays..this wouldn’t do on sugar sand but might work on clay soils in summer..you would have to clean and store it for winter. I tried this with milk jugs. Pain in th neck. Drip irrigation is easier.

  1. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    I’ve used drip irrigation, but it required stringing hoses which was a pain. I’ve used plastic bottles with bottoms cut off and holes drilled in the cap, and they worked pretty well. But, I looked these up on the net, and there are some small ones that work with bottles, and I may try them.

    Reply
  2. Tina

    I’ve seen ollas in my neighborhood, but I don’t have one. I think they’re considered workable. It’s just, you know, all that digging…:)

    Reply
  3. Kris P

    I’ve tried using smaller terracotta pieces to water plants, usually fed by an upturned plastic water bottle. That’s been useful in babying drought tolerant plants while they’re in the process of getting their root systems established. I should try the true ollas like those you’ve shown but they’re not cheap, which makes using them on a large scale costly, and of course one still has to be attentive in monitoring and refilling them. A friend has claimed moderate success with plastic pipe pierced with holes and filled with pebbles to slowly provide a supplemental drip but I haven’t tried that one.

    Reply
  4. Christina

    I use porous hose irrigation for my vegetables and cut flowers. I think these would work next to a new plant you don’t want to dry out, but it might depend on your soil type.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      The roots are supposed to grow toward the olla and using suction, create soil tension. I might try one between two hydrangeas since the wilt easily in hot afternoons but respond nicely to watering. Then again, would I remember to fill the olla?

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Ricki, isn’t it fun what shows up in crosswords? My husband and I had careers in computing and we’re surprised how many technical terms have crossed into the puzzles.

      Reply
  5. Beth @ PlantPostings

    This is a great idea, but I think my zone — 5a — is too cold for it. The freeze/thaw would probably destroy them pretty fast. With that said, one could lift them in the fall and replant them in the springtime. I might look into this. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Beth, you would have to lift the ollas probably in winter. The technique is supposed to be very efficient. Good luck with them if you test them.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Supposedly the technique is very efficient, requiring much less water than surface watering. The ollas do need monitoring, but refilling usually 5-7 days. I am terrible about remembering to water and prefer to let plants adapt on their own though.

      Reply
  6. P&B

    I think it’s so porous that water can slowly seep out. I only water our vegetables and newly planted plants. As flowers go, I prefer to grow native plants and let nature take care of them.

    Reply
  7. Nell

    Soil here is too much like the olla for comfort, and there’d be digging to store and then rebury in spring. Something similar I saw in a tree or grower’s catalog that makes more sense here are bucket-like reservoirs that seep out water for young plants, for areas beyond the reach of a hose where water’s hauled to the growing site.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Not sure where you garden Nell, but we have a lot of clay in this area. Although my beds have been enhanced a lot, I too wondered if I could even dig deeply enough to bury the olla sufficiently.

      Reply

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