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Plant Containers: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Pot

Any object that can hold soil and has drainage can be used as a planter.

Any object that can hold soil and has drainage can be used as a planter.

Most of us compliment our gardens with terra cotta, plastic, or glazed containers bursting with colorful foliage and flowers.  However, there is nothing that says you have to use a pot as your planter.  Why not get creative and use a novelty container that compliments your garden or personal sense of style.  A container to hold plants really has only 2 requirements, first the object must be able to hold soil.  Secondly, the object must have drainage or you must be able to give it drainage, plants easily drown from over-watering without sufficient drainage.  Once these requirements are met you are restricted only by the scope of your imagination.

Some ideas for unique containers would be galvanized metal buckets, old milk cans, old washtubs, coffee or tea pots, roasting pans, old pots and watering cans.  Many of these containers are metal and you can easily put drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and spike nail or punch (the punch is better because it will give you a larger hole).  These are great if you have a country setting or in the case of the tea pots a more refined setting would be perfect.  I found an old red and white enamel coffee pot in my Mom’s attic.  I’ve been using it as a vase for garden cut flower but I am thinking I might use it as a planter for the coming season.


Implements can also be good containers.  For example, a rustic wheelbarrow or grandma’s abandoned wringer washer would make interesting larger planters.  Have you redone your bathroom lately?  Use the sink or tub.  Do you have an old chair that the bottom has fallen out of?  Place a pot in the chair and then use that as your planter.  The back of the chair would be great as a mini trellis for a vine of some sort.  Ladder back and old wicker chairs are often available at thrift stores or garage sales.

Look around at natural items and see if any of them could be used as a planter.  For instance, a coconut, sea shells, or an old tree stump can be fun.  One of the large shade trees in my Mom’s yard died a couple of years ago, she had my dad hollow out the center while leaving the stump in the ground and it is now a unique planter.  Make sure to use plants that are in scale with the planter you are using.  You will want something small and slow growing in the sea shell, for instance a petite succulent would work wonderfully.


Getting even more off beat, how about worn out cowboy or work boots or an old golf or bowling bag?  These would be neat planters that would also say something about you.  Along the same lines an old suitcase could signify a globe trotter.  Another idea would be to take an old window frame (without the glass panes) and make a freestanding “window box” with it, the window frame would work as a small trellis.  One last odd idea, if you have an old lamp, take out the electrical workings, bolt a pot to the top of it and you have a lamp planter.  Along the same lines you could get a lamp shade (line it with plastic to keep it from molding or falling apart) and make it into either a hanging basket or planter.  It would be an illuminating container (sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

It's always the right time to search attics, thrift stores, and “antique” shops looking for the perfect container for your garden so have fun and happy hunting.

To view container recipes, click here.

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