Abundant Harvests - garden info,  My home garden,  water wisdom

Make your own flowerpot ollas

homemade flowerpot olla, functioning under my squash plants

Ollas are old-tech made new.  They are a GREAT tool for watering your garden during drought-stricken summers.

And you can make your own — quickly and easily, for very little money — with parts from the warehouse home supply store.

traditionally-shaped olla, expensive to purchase

A traditional olla is an unglazed pot with no hole in the bottom.  You bury it in your garden at planting time, fill it with water, and it slowly “sweats” water, keeping your garden soil moist.  Your plants and your soil critters will love it!

The traditional olla has a curvy pear shape.  Once installed, only the neck is visible.  Traditional ollas can be hard-to-find, and pricey once you find them.  I’ve also heard they are easily breakable.  I don’t own a traditional one, but I have made my own unconventional ones, and mine work great!

homemade flowerpot ollas being installed at planting time

What you need:

  • 1 unglazed clay flowerpot, I use 10″
  • 1 flowerpot saucer, to fit the TOP of your flowerpot, I use 12″
  • 1 rubber stopper from the plumbing department, sized to fit the flowerpot hole.  I use 1″x1.25″, which works out to #6 stoppers through online scientific supply stores.
  • a small level can be helpful.

Dig a hole in the center of your garden.  Put the flowerpot in the hole, buried up to the ridge around its neck, and assure that it is relatively level.

Plant your garden in a circular arrangement around the pot.  Squash plants especially like ollas. Try not to get dirt inside the flowerpot.

Push the rubber stopper into the flowerpot’s hole.  I tend to do this from the inside of the flowerpot, so that the wider portion of the stopper is pointed skyward.  Make sure rubber stopper is seated quite firmly.

flowerpot olla, with cover to side for photo
flowerpot olla, rubber stopper visible, cover to side for photo

Water your garden normally, plus fill the flowerpot with water.  Invert the saucer over top of the flowerpot to keep out debris, mosquitos, and critters.  Then mulch your garden to cover the soil surface — using straw, dry leaves, grass clippings, whatever you have around.


My flowerpot ollas will seep water for about 2.5 days.  I have heard that traditionall ollas remain filled about the same amount of time.  My plants are responding great to the olla treatment!

Tromboncino squash grown with homemade flowerpot olla
one of the many Tromboncino squashes grown with homemade flowerpot olla

Here’s another type of homemade olla using flowerpots and gorilla glue.  And an article that includes plant spacing for ollas and water spread for ollas.

Related:  How to build a garden sinkRaised beds vs sunken bedsWater wisdom for high-yield gardens