Painting Pots: The Sponge Technique | Almanac.com

Painting Pots: The Sponge Technique

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Sponge painting (yes, you just use a sponge) allows any gardener to transform simple orange terra-cotta pots—giving a unique, charming look to your patio or deck. Here’s how to it!

Garden designers often recommend changing the terracotta orange to another color to give an entirely different look to the plantings.

  • Grey or dark blue can look stately
  • Dark green can fade into the background
  • Silver and gold can lend a contemporary note

Sponge painting—using a small piece of sponge to overlay one color on top of a second—adds color and texture and isn’t at all difficult.

  • Try using two shades of the same color, perhaps two blues to emphasize blue plants, or use two different colors, such as a sea green and black, to create pots that will blend into the background.
  • Or, create colors that tie into some element of your landscape, such as the muted tones of a stone walkway or the accents of garden furniture.

As a bonus, painted clay pots hold moisture a bit better than the more porous unfinished pots. But on hot days, diligent watering is required with any type of clay pot to keep the soil from drying out.


First gather the materials needed:

  • Terracotta pots
  • Two different shades or colors of oil-base enamel, any finish
  • Paintbrush
  • Natural sponge


Wash the pots, if they have been used, scrubbing off any dirt with a stiff brush. Let sit until thoroughly dry.

Using the paintbrush, apply the first coat of paint. Let it dry completely.

Barely dampen the sponge in water and then into the second color of paint, and apply, working to get an overall sponged look. Experiment to get the coverage you want, and then repeat it on the other pots.

Let the finished pots dry. Plant your choice of flowers and arrange as you wish.

Enjoy this idea? Here’s another one:

Make your own window box! We have basic instructions plus a list of best flowers for your homemade window boxes here.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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