• Can I buy OLLAS online?  

Not from our website.  BUT some of our retailers sell online.

           Zinger Hardware

           Farm Curious


Paradigm Gardens

Territorial Seed

  • What is an OLLA?

An OLLA is a clay pot used for irrigation.  It is buried in the ground to supply water to surrounding plants at their roots which will grow towards and around the pot.

  • How does an OLLA work?

The OLLAS are made of low fired, unglazed, porous clay.  When an OLLA is filled with water, the water seeps out through the wall of the pot.  Due to Soil Moisture Tension, roots of the plants create suction to pull more water from the OLLA as needed.  The roots will eventual grow toward and around the OLLA, allowing even and consistent watering.  Plants are never over or under watered.  If the soil is moist, there is not tension, and the water is not pulled through the wall of the OLLA.  If the OLLA is only partially filled, and there is a lot of rain, water will go back into the OLLA by way of gravity, decreasing the splitting of succulent fruits such as tomatoes and melons.

  • Why do I need an OLLA?

 Conserving water is a stellar reason to use an OLLA.  But, there are many other reasons to use an OLLA:

            -If your water use is restricted.

            -If you want to save time by watering less often.

            -If you container garden.

            -If you have a small area which is difficult to irrigate or gets sun all day.

            -If you cannot water your plants on a regular basis (travel, work, summer home, etc.)

            -If you don’t like to weed, (since water in an OLLA doesn't water topside weed seeds).

            -If you want healthier plants and better vegetable production.

            -If you are gardening at a school or in a community garden with limited water sources.

  • How do I use my OLLA?

The OLLA spacing will depend on plant selection, soil type and temperature.  As a general rule,  plant within  18 inches from center of the Largest OLLA, and 10 inches from the center of the Medium Happy Face OLLA.

This space will equal a 36” diameter circle around the Larges OLLA, and a 20 " diameter circle around the Medium Happy Face OLLA.

Optimum plant spacing and distance will also be influenced by the root system and size of the plant.  For instance, tomatoes are a large plant with an aggressive root system, so placing them at the edge of the wetting area will allow ample room for growth.  In a 4×4 garden, 4 tomato plants 18 inches from the center of the OLLA work well (see diagram). The smaller plants, can be planted right up to the neck of the  OLLA.  A little experimentation and common sense will serve you well when deciding.  If you have any questions, ask us!  We love questions!

  • Do I plant inside the OLLA?

No.  The OLLA is buried neck deep and filled with water.  Plant OUTSIDE the pot.

  • How can I find out more about OLLA irrigation?

Ollas: Unglazed Clay Pots for Garden Irrigation


excellent Phd thesis from a student at the University of Pretoria

Clay pot irrigation for tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) production in the north east semiarid region of Ethiopia | Tesfaye | Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics (JARTS)


  • What are the sizes of your OLLAS?

The Largest OLLA is 13” from the bottom to the lid and 12” in diameter.  It holds 2.9 gallons/11 liters of water.  Our Medium Happy Face OLLA is 9" tall is about 5" across.  It holds 1 quart/liter.

  • How often should the OLLAS be refilled?

This is determined by a few variables: how much water your plants use, soil type, temperature, and rainfall.  Also, the OLLAS are hand crafted so there will be some variation among pots. On a conservative side, fill the OLLAS 1-2 times weekly.  If your states get over 25-30 inches of rain, you may be able to go for 5-7 days without filling the OLLA. You’ll find the pattern for your area with a little observation.  It is best, if possible, to keep some water in the OLLA at all times in dryer states due to the hardship on the plant in dry weather.

  • How deep do I bury my OLLAS?

Bury the OLLA with enough of the neck exposed so that soil and mulch do not wash into the pot.  Leaving 2 inches showing above ground will usually do the trick.

  • What plants can I use with the OLLA?

You can use the OLLA with any plant.  Putting an OLLA by a new tree or shrub will help get the plant through that first year.  If you feel the root system is well developed after one year, dig the OLLA up and use it somewhere else.  Your local nursery would know more about normal root growth.   Keeping in mind that woody roots from trees and shrubs are very strong and over 2 or more years could wrap tightly around the OLLA and eventually crack it. Wisely use the OLLA to get these plants established and then move it to use again.

  • Will my OLLA freeze?

If you live in a climate that has hard freezes for more than a week, you should remove the OLLA in the winter.  If you live in zone 7 or below, let us know how your OLLAS did over the winter.

  • Why does the OLLA need a lid?

The lid prevents evaporation and keeps out mosquitoes, etc.

  • Do I need to water my new plants/seeds?

Yes, when seeds or young plants are put into the ground, they will need topical water until the roots are established enough to draw from the OLLA.  After that, the OLLA will do all the work.

  • How long will my OLLA last?

Your OLLA will last for years.  It is a clay pot, so some maintenance is required.  If leaves or light things fall into the olla, fill the olla with water and as the item floats up, swish it out.  If you find a lot of dirt has accidentally gotten in the OLLA (it happens), dig the OLLA up, tilt in on its side and spray  the inside with your hose until the dirt washes out. You can clean your OLLA with a a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water.  Pour one gallon of water AND one gallon of vinegar in your OLLA and let it sit for a few hours.  Use a scrub brush for removing debris on the outside.  If you choose to leave your OLLA in the ground, we do not recommend putting the water/vinegar solution in your OLLA.