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Creative Planter Ideas

Flowers Planted in Bicycle Basket

Planters come in all shapes and sizes. Every gardener knows that finding creative things to put plants in, adds interest to their yard. This is a guide about creative planter ideas.

     

Solutions

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Salad Bar Garden Bed

Salad Bar Made into Garden BedMy husband is in the construction business. One day he brought this old salad display home. It is the large kind you see at buffets. It has a sneeze guard on the top. I put it on my back porch and planted herbs in it. By Eveh from Gulf Coast

Tip: They Will Grow Wherever They are Planted

Most gardeners know that you can grow vegetables in pots instead of putting them in the ground. In our garden, we do both. Buying pots can be very expensive, so we started looking at everyday objects to find cheap and, sometimes, decorative alternatives.

The pictures show nasturtiums growing in a hollow of a thriving tree, cucumbers just starting in a pair of old boots, Swiss chard in an old dishpan, potatoes in a storage bin (and a hammock strategically placed to keep the deer out of the garden and yes, it worked wonderfully), and tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant thriving in reusable shopping bags that we paid 50 cents for. We cut or drilled holes in containers that had no drainage, except the tree, and some old stumps.

Nastursium growing out of hollow tree. Cucumber plant growing in an old pair of boots. Swiss chard growing in a dishpan. View of garden with bamboo pole fencing, hammock in place, etc.

All of the plants did very well and gave us a lot of delicious veggies. So far it looks like all of them will be used again next year and beyond, though the garden is still growing, and the containers not inspected. Containers like storage bins are great for storing the other pots and equipment.

By Copasetic 1 from North Royalton, OH Overview of some of the planters.

Tip: Rag Flower Pot

Rag Flower Pot

My daughter loves anything old or antique and loves rag rugs, so I decided to use the rag rug technique and make her rag flower pots.

I cut rag strips, braided them together and then hot glued them to plastic tubs from the Dollar Store. Everyone in the family now wants rag flower pots.

Source: I just kinda thought of another use for the rag rug technique.

By

Tip: Galvanized Tub Gardening

My yard is mostly shade with the gravel driveway being the sunniest spot on the property. I refused to give up vegetable gardening when we bought the place, so I gathered up my galvanized tub collection (including an old wringer-type mop bucket and a calf-feeder, minus the, er, artificial udder.) I used the best soil mix I could, because nutrients are lost faster in containers. Several galvanized tubs with vegetables planted in them along gravel driveway

There's not much chance of our many rabbit families getting at these veggies, since I put them up on cinder blocks for added height - this also saves my back while tending. I secured rain gutter mesh over the top of the soil to foil the squirrels and chipmunks who love to dig up anything I plant (usually the night after I plant it).

Closeup of tub garden wtih lettuce and tomato plant

Set in the sunniest place in our yard, this year's veggie garden is coming along nicely - lettuce is ready for the salad bowl. When the lettuce is finished up, the tomato plant will have plenty of room to stretch its roots. Closeup of tub garden with tomato plant

This system works great when you have limited space or have a mostly shaded yard.

By Gloria from western NY

Teacup Planters

An ivy plant in a china teacup with saucer.This simple project is a wonderful way to use the china teacups gathering dust on your shelves. Filled with soil and ivy they make dainty and long-lived planters.

Materials and Equipment:

  • a large plastic bag or several sheets of newspaper
  • one or more teacups, preferably with saucers
  • potting soil, enough to fill a teacup
  • a tablespoon
  • small ivy plant, I find the slow growing variety "Glacier" works well

Instructions:

  1. Clean and dry the teacup before starting. Clear the table and cover it with newspaper or a large garbage bag to avoid getting soil on the table.

  2. Fill the bottom third of the teacup with potting soil.

  3. Take the ivy out of its container and remove any pot-bound roots. Place the plant in the teacup.

  4. Fill the rest of the teacup with soil, covering the roots of the ivy. Press the soil down with your spoon or hand.

  5. Water lightly and place in indirect light. Fertilize every few weeks.

  6. Remember that there are no drainage holes in the teacup, so water sparingly. If you over water, just tip the cup to drain the excess water out. My teacup planters have lived happily for several years following this advice!

By Christine Weber

Garden: Wine Press Planter

wine press plantersThis wine press has been in the family for about 50 years and has seen many, many boxes of grapes and we have enjoyed many, many bottles of homemade wine. The day finally came when the press was ready for retirement and I turned it into a lovely garden piece.

The old(er) aunts, uncles and cousins love what I've done with the press and whenever they see it, the reminisces begin. What fun!

By Wilhelmina from Amherstburg, ON

Article: The Year Round Planter

Planter with flowers.Planning ahead for the seasons can add challenges to spring planting. Instead of planting each season, plant now to create an entire yearly display for much less than you'll pay to replant it each season. Why pay money to purchase plants and then throw them away?

The Front Stoop Planter

Brighten your entryway by adding a planter to welcome visitors and draw attention to your front door. The look of your home's front door is an important element in your landscaping. Pulling out the season's flowers and replacing them is not only time consuming but expensive.

Think about the year ahead instead. We consider an entire season's planting when digging flower beds in the yard, but we often ignore them in potted displays. While pansies and winter cabbage are attractive, save them for your yard and keep them out of the potted plants. Instead, think about plants that will die down and reappear each year. Yearly plantings should be reserved for the larger planters.

Spring

For spring, plant some tall bulbs in your planter at a depth of six inches. This will allow the other plants to sit on top of the bulbs so the transition from spring to summer will be a seamless one. To protect your bulbs from squirrels, place a small cut piece of mesh wire on top of the bulbs before adding the remaining soil.

Summer

In summer, choose some perennial plants that can grow beneath the spring bulbs and continue to flower throughout the season. Opt for plants such as snapdragons. Then, to layer your look, add some taller greens in the back. This is great place to place herbs such as chives that not only bloom but also offer interesting greenery and useful seasoning.

Autumn

When autumn arrives, the addition of chrysanthemums is too pricey and short lived. Instead, plant marigold seeds beneath your summer plants halfway through the season. The marigolds will grow amongst the summer flowers, adding to their beauty at the end of the summer. Their bright fall colors will brighten your planters, and they will withstand cooler temperatures before frost comes. Collect the dead flower heads and store them in a dry place for next year's planting.

As the frost line approaches your home, consider covering the planter with an old bed sheet at night. This will keep your flowers blooming and healthy longer. When the cold comes on strong, if you live in a colder climate, you'll have to add to your planter manually. Prune some interestingly shaped branches from around your yard and add them to the planter. If they have colored leaves, this will add to the display until the leaves dry. Bare sticks will continue the autumn look while adapting to the harsher temperatures.

For those who live in planting zone 6 and further north, this time period of autumn into winter is tricky for planters. Explore your recycling options. Continue to add the bare sticks as well as any dried berries and fall items you might find in your yard. Then, recycle the jack-o-lantern by turning his face to the back, covering it with the sticks and findings, and using the orange color to accentuate your display.

Winter

As winter approaches, create displays that look nice with and without snow. Keep the bare sticks and the recycled pumpkin in the display until the pumpkin freezes. Then, add pine branches cut from your trees or a neighbor's tree. As branches fall during ice storms, build on your planter's look.

With a little investment, purchase a small evergreen for the center of your pot. Keep the other flowers growing around it, and decorate it according to the season. The evergreen will look lovely with smaller spring bulbs around its base, small summer flowers such as sweet alyssum around its base, sticks and marigolds in autumn, and mulch in the winter.

It's important to mulch your planter during the winter. Keeping it close to the house or under a porch will help to protect it. Adding pine needles as mulch is also a cheap and decorative solution.

By Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Tip: Using Found Items For Garden Decor

Wheelbarrow Filled with FlowersI love interesting places to display flowers. Especially when they are easy since I don't have much of a green thumb. Here are some things I've done:

I used an old wheelbarrow by drilling holes in the bottom for drainage, throw in some gravel then top w/soil and plants. Plants that hang off the sides look great and something big and flashy in the middle. You can also lay the barrow on its side and design from there.

Another great tip is using old chairs that have lost their seat in them.

By Sarah Cox from Hixson, TN

Tip: Galvanized Pail Flower Gardens

Petunias in galvanized calf feeding pail.I keep my eyes open for any old galvanized buckets, tubs, and pails that I can use in my garden. This one was once a "calf-a-teria" complete with rubber udder where the hole is at the bottom. It now hangs on my garden fence with the bracket once used for hanging on the calf pens.

By ~gloria from upstate NY

Tip: Creative Planters for Garden Focal Points

Interesting focal points in your garden don't always have to include terra cotta pots. See what you have around the house that would make a creative planter.

I like the contrast of old metal against the softness of the plants. Here is a vintage tea kettle with a young nasturtium plant. I've hung it from a wrought iron stand in a patch of bee balm.

Don't forget to put drainage holes in the bottom of your new containers, or make a layer of stone before adding soil.

By gloria from western NY

Tip: Old Chair for Container Gardening

A chair planted with flowers

Many household objects can be used as containers in the garden. I love to use old chairs in the garden to add height and interest to an area that might be otherwise plain without it.

Many can be found on trash day, free for the taking. This one was without a seat, so I stapled a wire basket to the underside of the chair and added a cocoa liner. A layer of newspaper in the liner helps to retain moisture as cocoa liners can dry out easily in the heat of the summer. Fill with plants and good quality potting soil that contains a slow release fertilizer and moisture holding crystals.

By Dottie from Pennellville, NY

Tip: Used Pool Filter as a Garden Plant Stand

I hated to throw away our used swimming pool filter and thought it looked so interesting. I stood it upright and put a flower pot on top of it. It adds prominence to an empty space in the garden.

Used Pool Filter as a Garden Plant Stand

By

Tip: Garden: Pumpkin Planter

Last fall I took a large pumpkin and cleaned it out, filled it with potting soil and put a Mum plant in it. I used it as a decoration on my front porch. At the end of the season I took the Mum/pumpkin and planted it in the ground. That Mum came up great this year. I guess the pumpkin acted as good mulch for the Mum.

This fall I'm going to get a few different sized mums and pumpkins and decorate my porch and yard.

By Caroline D. from New Jersey

Tip: Flower "Bed" That's Different

Flower Want something different for your front lawn or garden? Use an iron chair or glider and fill it with ivy and flowers. My husband put some wooden sides on it and I lined the bottom with coconut liners. I filled the bottom with several inches of potting soil and planted away topping off with pine straw. Every year I try a new plants for variety.

By Tammie from Moody, AL

Tip: Hanging Planters From Paint Cans

If you have empty cans of paint left after a project, don't throw them away! Turn them into hanging planters.

Take off the lids and let any remaining paint dry, you will not need the lids. After the paint dries, take a nail and punch some holes in the bottom of the can to allow for drainage, otherwise the can will collect too much water and rust.

If the can has a paper label, peel it off and you will have a plain can that you can paint or leave plain. If the product information is printed right on the can, you can spray paint over it to cover.

You can loop the can handle over a picket fence stake, and the can will sit flush against the fence, or you can hang it from a hook. Plant directly in the can, or to make cleanup easier, use large yogurt or cottage cheese containers with holes cut for drainage - the can will hide the plastic container, and you can pop it out easily at the end of the season.

These look especially nice with cascading plants, but you can put anything you like in them.

By Regina from Rochester, NY

Tip: Making Drainage Holes for Plastic Containers

The easy way is to heat a hole punch, awl, or nail tip over a lit candle. Then simply push it down into the turned over container in several spots to allow for adequate drainage. Done!

By

Tip: Cute Recycled Windowsill Planters

With the cold weather, I do my gardening indoors. I use cute planters from thrift shops like coffee mugs, porcelain creamers, or ceramic pots that strike my fancy. I drill drain holes in them using glass/tile drill bits that I buy from a tool outlet or home/garden centers, fill them up with potting soil and plant small houseplants in them. Perfect for my window sills in every part of the house! Planters can be made out of many recycled items.y Recycled ceramic planters from coffee cups and other dishes.

By Renee from San Diego, CA

Tip: Craft: Plate Gardens

Plate GardensThey are easy and fun and require basically what you can find around your home and yard. Use old clay or ceramic plates, soil, small rocks or pebbles, dried flowers, sand, moss, etc., to create little faerie gardens or as my daughter calls them "Ladybug Gardens". In this pic, a pond was made out of the bottom of a plastic water bottle and a leaf, floral wire and picks were used to create a fairie swing. Fun Fun Fun!

By LovelyMom from Durham, NC

Tip: Garden: Vintage Wooden Toolbox Planter

Vintage Wooden Toolbox Planter

Vintage Wooden Toolbox Planter

Take something old and make it new! This vintage wooden toolbox (a $2 yard sale find) now holds pretty flowers instead of ordinary old tools.

Note: Holes were drilled for drainage and the sides lined with plastic to protect the wood

By Lisa from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tip: Use Vintage Metal Buckets for Planters

Use vintage metal buckets found at yard sales for container gardening. In most cases, the buckets already have holes in the bottom, acting as great drainage holes. Fill with organic materials and plants and, voila, you have a portable container gardening solution!

By Lisa from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tip: Trash To Treasure Painting

Spatter painted milk can.I had several items in my yard that I was using as yard art; wear and tear of these items in the weather elements caused rust and corrosion. I changed these items; painted them and they are again a nice addition to my yard art collection.

I had an old milk can that the bottom had rusted out; it was painted black a few years ago and had been placed in a flower bed among the day lilies and irises; it had no top on it so I used it as a vase to put fresh flowers in; I painted it and used a spatter technique to finish it; I put a flower pot in it and placed a peace lily in it; I will change the flowers now according to season or holiday. It sits at the entrance of my back door on my backyard deck.

I also had an old tea kettle that was bent and had rusted; I painted it and used the spatter technique on it; it sits on an old rusted small pot bellied stove that sits on our backyard deck; I punched holes in the bottom of the tea kettle; this fall it will have pansies in it and will bring lots of color to that area of our deck. The rusted pot bellied stove is inoperable and is used as a garden ornament; I like the rusty color so I will not paint it.

By WandaJo from TN

Editor's Note: Here's is WandaJo's earlier post with the tea kettle on the old, rusted stove:

Tip: Strawberry Pot Side Table

Use a strawberry pot as an inexpensive side table on your deck! First plant small vines or other trailing plants in the holes of the pot. Fill the rest of the pot with soil then cover top of the soil with small pebbles and cover the top with a small glass table top.

By Chanon from Knoxville, TN

Article: Unusual Ideas for Planters

An old work boot with the toe cut out becomes a planter for a variety of succulents and decorates the steps of a wooden porch.

An old work boot with the toe cut out becomes a planter for a variety of succulents and decorates the steps of a wooden porch.

Here are ideas for reusing items as planters or pots from the ThriftyFun community. Post your own unusual planter ideas below.

Boots For Planters

I have fun imagining how I can use various discarded items as planters. My favorite was a pair of my husband's work boots. Having been owned by a man, these boots were well broken in, and ready for the landfill. I opened them up (you can leave the laces in place), and filled them with soil. I happened to plant chicks 'n hens in them. They are still in my garden biodegrading, and covered with chicks, for who knows how long.

You can cut holes in the toes for additional planting possibilities. I hope to find another pair at garage sales this summer, to paint white. I'll put some allysum in the toes, and vinca vines draped around the cuffs, with maybe red geraniums, or petunias coming out of the top.

Now, if you're familiar with "pack boots" (they are usually constructed of green rubber). These make good substitutes for those long, hanging, plastic planters with holes cut out of the sides for plants with runners (like strawberries, or spider plants), and I've also seen them done with impatients. Just fashion a hanger using the eyelets, cut some slits in the sides, and toes, and fill with dirt. Arrange plants in the slits and tops. Or put the parent plant in the top, and open the slits up for the anticipated runners. Voila!

By Catchdmc

Cooking Pots Or Kettles

I use old large cooking pots or tea kettles as planters. An elderly aunt of mine died last year, and I inherited some of them. They are too grungey to cook with but perfect for annuals on my porch.

By admin

Toys, Kitchenware and Baskets

Child's plastic sandpail (String the plastic shovel through the handle.), a little red wagon, Easter basket, vintage coffee pot, an old ringer washer, an old hiking boot, an empty restaurant size can of fruits/vegetables, a basket, a child's toy dump truck, an old washtub, a canoe, a "old-time" wooden tool box, a mailbox, rain boots.

By Arwest

Cat Litter Buckets As Planters

I own 2 cats and go through a lot of cat litter. I always buy the litter in the plastic buckets. Once they are empty, I drill drainage holes in the bottom, slap a little paint on the bucket and decorate. Fill with dirt and plant whatever you desire. Right now, I'm growing tomatoes and cucumbers in them. They work great.

By Dunndeanna

Imagination Is The Key

Absolutely everything can be used as a planter, using your "imagination" is the key. Adding the right flower arrangement and bow is the reward. Syd, who can see something recycleable in every piece of discards. My latest was the half-moon hospital spit up dishes, got four. Ideal for dish gardens for hospital or nursing home patients.

By Sydfred

Vegetable Garden in an Old Bathtub

Because my soil is too rocky for a vegetable garden, I have a bathtub salvaged from an old mobile home that I am growing green onions, radishes, lettuce and cucumbers in. I filled it about half full of a mixture of top soil and compost, and planted my seed. I train the cucumber vines to trail over the side of the tub and onto the ground. Last summer, I even had a tomato plant on one end.

Harlean from Arkansas

Old Canners as Planters

I used a couple of old canners (for canning fruit and garden produce) for planters. Mine are blue enamel and have a really nice country style when filled with red geraniums and greenery.

By Ajdutchtown

Bedframe For "Flowerbed"

I've seen an old metal bed frame with a box built into it planted as a "flower bed." It was very nice. The box was built up so it really looked like a mattress of flowers.

By Susan

Coffee Cans As Planters

I have used metal from old coffee cans to line a bowl filled with moss. Orchids look great in them also. You can flatten one side of a coffee can and fasten it to a wall on your porch. This is one idea I've tried, one of my grandmother's handbags was also a gem.

By Michelle

Upside Down Wooden Chair

Hang an old wooden straight back chair upside down and set a potted plant inside the legs. Looks great with trailing plants.

By Penny

Old Car Tire

Try using an old car tire and place it somewhere where a tree can grow up through it or maybe plant a tree in the center of the old tire!

Unusual Finds At Yard Sales

I have been getting pretty creative with yard sale finds. This year I have planted in an old metal lunchbox, old rusty bird cage with a hanging basket inside, boots, antique tractor tool box, and water lilies in an old galvanized tub.

By Carolyn

Tip: Copper Jello Mold Planter

Old copper jello molds cost next to nothing at yard sales. Drill a few holes in the bottom and they make great planters. I always have a few plants on hand started from cuttings for a quick gift when I need one.

By Linda

Tip: Make Planters With Old Record Albums

Make Planters With Old Record AlbumsA pal had a bunch of plant clippings she was wanting to get rid of at a yard sale. With not having any excess planters, she made her own planters with record albums she no longer wanted or needed. She melted the albums into shapes of planters, with the center hole being the bottom drain hole. Clever idea! One idea I'd never thought of before!

By Terri H.

Editor's Note: Here is a link to a ThriftyFun craft project making a vinyl record bowl or planter.

Vinyl Record Bowl

Tip: Tea Kettle Flower Pots

When my children were young and still living at home, they made a habit of burning my tea kettles dry. I decided to plant flowers, and/or herbs in them. They look really cute outside or inside! Especially the cow one!

Tip: Laundry Basket Planters

Today I was driving by someone's home and saw what I thought were pretty white "pillars" down the side of their driveway with gorgeous plant boxes sitting inside of them hanging down over the sides of the "pillars".

As I got closer, I noticed that these were all just plain white laundry baskets with the decorative air holes in the sides. The planter boxes sat perfectly inside of them and hung over the sides. A neat idea! I am sure they placed stones on the bottoms to weight them down as well.

By Tawnda

Tip: Creative Container Gardens

Container gardens are so much fun, because the possibilities are endless, and the entire family can participate. You don't have to commit a lot of time to plant: Create one new potted plant each day until your garden is complete! Just about anything that will hold soil can be used. GROWN-UPS: It's your job to drill a few drainage holes into containers that don't already have them. Here are a few neat ideas to get you started:

1. Terra cotta pots: An old standard that can be made fresh by painting or decorating the outside.

2. Old metal watering cans: A perfect match for your new garden!

3. Wooden crates: Line the inside with a plastic garbage bag, then poke a few drain holes into the plastic.

4. Old shoes: Brightly colored rubber boots add a splash of color and whimsy to your garden. An old cowboy boot adds a rustic look.

5. Metal wagon: A child's metal wagon makes a nice container either on its own (grown-ups don't forget the drain holes!) or used as a holder for several containers.

6. Old toys: Big plastic dump trucks will let the neighbors know that the children had a hand in planting the new garden.

By Deborah Shelton

Share Your Feedback: Once you try any of the above solutions, be sure to come back and give a "thumbs up" to the one that worked the best for you. Do you have a better solution? Click "Share a Solution" above!

Questions

Here are questions related to Creative Planter Ideas.

Question: Unique Planter Ideas

I have a business with a sunny front and a low window. I want to plant flowers outside below the window. It is about 8 feet in length and 2 feet high. I need some unusual ideas for planters. Preferably some things that are long.

By Cindy E


Most Recent Answer

By anne01/13/2012

Don't know what your zone is, but this window box in Charleston South Carolina blew my socks off! It looks to me like the white in the center is allysum, the pink are petunias, the blue could be scaviola,and there could be other stuff in there as well. Just remember to use the best soil you can find, add lots of a timed release fertilizer (maybe also a bit of miracle grow in your watering),Buy the healthiest plants you can find and pack them in! If you can find some variegated ivy or vinca, that would creat a trailing effect. Good Luck! Anne in NC

RE: Unique Planter Ideas

Question: Creative Planter Ideas

Flowers growing in an old truck.Here's a picture of a flowers planted in an old truck. Do you have any creative planter ideas to share? Post your ideas below.


Most Recent Answer

By Oneta Mutchler06/29/2008

I am wondering what is "no dirt" soil also. Could the person with that post please tell us what it is? Thank you

Photos

Wagon Flower Garden

This is my portable flower garden. Because of my husband's job, we used to transfer in the summers and I wouldn't get the chance to "take" my garden with me. Or sometimes we moved to a house without much for landscaping. In order to at least have something with a little flower power, I decided to use my childhood wagon as a garden container, just in case we move again. This last summer, I planted impatiens in them and they did really well. I also like being able to move my portable flower bed to different areas of my garden.

By Denise from NB

Impatiens in red wagon.

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Boot Planter

I want to make a planter out of work boots. Do they have to be lace up ones?

Linda from NW Iowa


RE: Boot Planter

I wouldn't think so, actually you would probably lose less soil if they weren't. (04/27/2007)

By thriftmeg

Archive: Garden: Boot Planter

***

Garden: Boot Planter
Garden: Boot Planter
*** I love to find new things to plant in, this pair of boots had seen better days,so into the garden they went,I also used my girls rubber boots,they are so cute.

Boots make great planters!

By moonseekerjade from Onset, MA


RE: Garden: Boot Planter

Very cute. My husband is a lobsterman. I am going to try to steal some of his boots and plant them. (06/11/2009)

By mulberry204

RE: Garden: Boot Planter

What a neat idea! Very clever, very cute, (06/11/2009)

By PupperMom