Handmade Irrigation Olla

Ollas (say “oy-yahs”) are bottle-shaped unglazed terra-cotta pots that are buried in the ground with the neck exposed above the soil surface, and filled with water for “on-demand” underground irrigation of plants that can result in up to 70% water saving. We believe ollas have huge potential in South Africa to make small-scale irrigation easier, and to mitigate the effects of predicted upcoming droughts. Read more on our blog here.

Our Get Dirty Ollas are carefully handmade by a potter named Jane, from clay she harvests herself by hand in the Overberg mountains and fires in her home kiln. As a result, they have absolutely zero additives as can be found in commercial clays. Jane works hard to collect and produce, so please be patient with the limited stock we have.

There are currently 4 sizes available:

  • 350ml – perfect for small potted plants.
  • 1L – suits larger pots and garden beds.
  • 2L – potted trees and garden beds.
  • 5L – garden beds and trees in the ground.

*5L back in stock! 1L, 2L sold out for now – please contact us directly if you’d like to order. 

In an effort to reduce our environmental footprint, we ship our olla’s in used boxes.




Ollas are thought to have originated in Northern Africa and are commonly used today in several countries, notably India, Iran and Brazil. Bill Mollison, the ‘Father of Permaculture’, even touted them as the “the most efficient irrigation system in the world“, and we’re pretty excited about their application in our water-stressed country.

Our ollas are handmade in South Africa from microporous terracotta clay, which allows water to seep through the walls, but also be drawn out by the suction force of plant roots. Because they are handmade, volumes may vary slightly.

We currently have 4 sizes available (sizes and volumes vary slightly). 

  • 350ml (~9cm W x 11cm H) – perfect for small potted plants, ~20cm irrigation diameter.
  • 1L (~11cm W x 20cm H) – suits larger pots and garden beds , ~60cm irrigation diameter.
  • 2L (~12cm W x 27cm H) – potted trees and garden beds, ~80cm irrigation diameter.
  • 5L (~20cm W x 40cm H) olla for large potted or free-standing trees, and garden beds (~120cm irrigation diameter)

How it is used

When buried neck-deep in soil and plants or crops planted adjacent to it, the unglazed, porous terra-cotta uses the scientific principle of soil moisture tension so water seeps into the surrounding soil until saturated. Plants then grow their roots around them and draw water when necessary. A simple lid (provided) reduces evaporation.

Depending on climate, soil and plant needs, ollas are filled as necessary, making them a great holiday watering system for indoor plants too.

Ollas will last for years submerged, and can be dug up and replanted as needed. Or, plant a 5L next to a small tree and leave it be – the tree’s roots will eventually strangle the olla and crush it up, returning the clay to the soil by the time the tree’s roots are well established.


Additional information

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A

350mL, 1L, 2L, 5L


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