Photo by Melody

Making an Olla, utilizing ancient technology in the garden!

By Glynis Ward (girlgroupgirlAugust 2, 2008

Ollas, pronounced O-yah, are direct and efficient watering devices for the garden. The original ollas, thought to be brought from Spain to South America were unglazed clay earthenware urns which are still used today in the Southwest.

Gardening picture

However, true Ollas are hard for many of us to come by. Here, in the Southeast where we’ve been having a drought for the last few years, Ollas could come in very handy – they emit water very slowly and evenly through the vessel, which is buried almost totally underground. However a true Olla is not available here unless ordered through the mail. However, simple items from your hardware store can help you make ollas for your gardens in no time flat!!




Silicone or glue that will work on porous materials – make sure it is waterproof
Two #4 terra cotta pots
1 tube of waterproof epoxy putty
Cheap masking tape

Read the glue label and decide how you will apply the glue. For a tube of silicone, you may need a caulking gun. The glue I used requires the terra cotta be soaked before applying the glue. I needed shallow trays of water (I used the bottoms of window boxes) to soak the rims for a few seconds.masking tape holds two #4 terracotta pots with open ends together while you glue the seam.

ImageTake a pinch of the epoxy putty – it comes in a tube, and has two parts, one rolled around the other. Just roll these two together in a ball and push them in the hole of ONE of the pots to seal the hole – this works better than any other kind of plug I’ve tried. It dries very quickly.
Apply your glue to the other pot rim. Tape the pots together after gluing. This helps hold them really tight. The glue I used foams a bit, that way I know it’s working, and it fills in the uneven areas around the two pots.

Leave your Olla to dry for a day or two. Remove the tape.

Now go out to the garden and bury your olla to an inch above the top of the pot,


plugged hole down. Pour water inside the open hole and fill the olla. This water should last for a few days to a week – slowly emitting into the garden, directly around plant roots.


It’s that simple!! Your olla is made! I wait a few days before filling them with water to test them. I want everything fully cured. Make sure you block the top hole with a small stone or the pot saucer to keep mosquitoes out.

Water Wise Newsletter

Path To Freedom: Using Ollas

  About Glynis Ward  
Glynis Ward Music, color and gardening - the three go hand in hand in my Electric Garden. I enjoy gardening organically for 12 months of the year in the South and am garden speaker and educator, coach and designer. I write about rock'n roll, vintage fashion and of course, gardening.

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