Container Ideas From Every Room

Plants will grow in just about anything given the proper soil, water, and light conditions. If you're looking for some inexpensive container ideas, grab a pencil and some paper and take a walk around the house for a few inspirational ideas.


Containers From the Kitchen

The kitchen offers up endless ideas for containers. Onions, radishes, and other shallow root vegetables like beets will grow in Jell-O molds, cake pans, and aluminum pie tins. Ice-cream pails, crock-pot liners, and roasting pans provide plenty of room for plants with deeper roots. Other container ideas include plastic milk and juice jugs, plastic bakery cake boxes, old cookie jars or decorative popcorn tins, hanging kitchen baskets, old metal colanders, teapots, spice racks, and baskets.

Water bottles (cut down vertically or horizontally) or chipped mugs and teacups make nice window containers for growing herbs. Clear plastic deli and take-out containers work like mini greenhouses for starting seeds. Coconut halves and large gourds hold small flowers and herbs and hollowed out pumpkins work nicely as planters in the fall.


Containers From the Living Room

Tip an old bookcase on its back for a wonderful container with built in dividers (shelves) or try piling up and tying together a stack of hollowed out old books. Remove the insides from a set of old stereo speakers or flip over an old coffee table and you have instant containers.

Containers from the Dining Room

Piano benches, old musical instruments (think saxophones and guitars), photo boxes, cedar chests, and old trunks all have the makings for excellent flower and vegetable containers.

Containers from the Bedroom

Consider containers made from old dresser drawers, box springs, under the bed storage bins, duffle bags, backpacks, suitcases, and shoe or hatboxes. An old umbrella tipped upside down makes a lovely container-just punch out a few holes for drainage.


Containers from the Bathroom

Garbage cans, shower organizers, bathtubs, sinks and toilets make amusing containers-and great conversation pieces.

Containers from the Laundry Room

Washed out detergent jugs, old washing machine tubs, laundry baskets, laundry bags, rucksacks, and cat litter jugs can be creatively and inexpensively turned into useful containers. How about growing flowers out of your gardening gloves?

Containers from the Office

Tipped on their backs, file cabinets make nice deep containers for growing vegetables-the drawers can be planted separately. Think of any type of wall-mounted file organizer as a waterfall of flowers just waiting to happen.

Containers from the Garage

If you have a clutter-filled garage, you may have just won the container lottery. Paint cans (clean, of course), wheelbarrows, mail boxes, cement mixers, burlap sacks, basket or sport balls (cut in half), toolboxes, 5 gallon buckets, coolers, crates, wagons, fishing boats, canoes, oil pans, and minnow buckets all make good containers. Using them is a great way to clear some of that extra stuff out of the garage! Old appliances, like refrigerators and freezers (with doors removed) make excellent containers-you can plant and entire garden in them!

Containers from the Patio

Time to replace that old grill? Gas and Webber style grills (and their covers) make first-rate containers, as do plastic swimming pools and hanging baskets.

Containers from the Attic

Plastic totes and storage bins are lightweight, come in a variety of sizes and colors and are inexpensive and easy to modify for container gardening. You can find these "dirt" cheap at discount stores in the fall and spring-the times of the year when people typically organize their closets and drawers.

Remember, as long as you can provide drainage and enough growing medium for your plant, there's no end to the possibilities for containers. To find free or inexpensive building materials (and potential containers) left over from remodeling or deconstruction projects in your community, try

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

Anonymous Flag
October 23, 20080 found this helpful

What great ideas! I have used several of them, but others, I never would have considered. Obtaining containers to plant in has been a bit of a problem, but my imagination is going wild now. I have actually gone to the thrift store and bought woven baskets pretty cheap, and planted in them. They are very reasonably priced at the thrift stores in our area, and surprisingly make halfway decent planters. I had a sheet-rock finisher friend of my husband's give me a bunch of "mud buckets" (5 gallon buckets that hold the compound that the finishers use to tape the seams and holes in the sheet-rock of new construction or renovations.) I was thrilled to get these, and not only have used them for planting, but for hauling rocks, dirt, compost, etc.; the possibilities are endless for these beauties. The size is good, they have good carrying handles, and they are nice and strong to be able to handle a multitude of jobs besides planting. I'll bet if someone placed an ad on CraigsList or FreeCycle, they could obtain a bunch of these. Happy gardening!

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October 23, 20080 found this helpful

Both my husband and I are living in a very nice apartment complex. We're permitted to have our own gardens, but flowers and vegetable have to be grown in containers.

Thank you for the container ideas.

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October 25, 20080 found this helpful

At a craft show, I saw plants in old shoes. Made me wish I had a pair of my daddy's old worn leather work boots he wore while farming in the 50's.

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October 25, 20080 found this helpful

I really like the coffee bag planter - very cute! Great article too!

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January 31, 20160 found this helpful

I would like to add that if you're not into shabby chic or farmhouse decorating, you can always spray paint your planter into something that fits your style. I've even seen gold and silver on items we think of as junk. Also, don't forget an old stove or grill might have a wire rack that would make a dandy trellis. Good luck.

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January 31, 20160 found this helpful

When I saw the mention of a bookcase as a planter, it reminded me of something I saw yesterday. A bookcase was used as a raised bed. "Raised beds" can be pricey and you get nothing for your money. I like them, but its best to make your own, imho.

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