Get Creative With Container Gardening

November 30, 2006
BY JEAN WOFFORD - VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
EDITED BY CHARLA BORCHERS LEON
 
Are you tired of the same old terra cotta containers? Sick of the same old ceramic pots, and bored with run-of-the-mill baskets? Perhaps you need to think outside the pot.

You can spice up planting containers using just about anything from old kitchen objects, tossed away toys or many things if they just have a hole in the top and a bottom of some sort.

OK, let's get creative here.

OLD FLOUR SIFTER

Here's a new twist on an old kitchen tool. Sifters were once used to make flour finer for baking. This sifter can now have a second life. It's built-in mesh bottom works great as a drain for a planter.

In order to make a planter, you will need to get some spaghum moss. Soak it in warm water until it is very wet, then just squeeze out a handful at a time until it is just damp, and put some on the bottom of the sifter. Press some into the sides until you reach the top. Leave a little showing at the top. Then fill with potting soil and put in a small plant. Put a bit of moss around the top and you have a very unusual, but clever planter.

KITCHEN CANISTERS

Do you have a set of kitchen canisters that you are no longer using, but just can't part with? Put them to use by making a planter. In order to do this, punch several holes in the bottom with a nail and put some small rocks or gravel in the bottom so your plant will have good drainage. Add some potting soil and you are ready to place your plant. This is an easy and attractive way to use your canisters again.

TOYS

A really neat idea is to use a child's toy shopping cart to make a very creative planter.

First, you will need to soak the spaghum as you did for the sifter. Start by putting the damp moss all over the bottom of the cart, working your way up the sides. Be sure and press the moss into the openings of the cart. As you go up the side, start adding potting soil until you get a nice layer. Then, put some small cascading plants into openings on the sides of the cart, making sure they get good contact with the soil. The moss will keep them from falling out. Continue this until you reach the top of the cart.

Next, add some plants and cover the visible soil with either moss or fine mulch. Water your plants in very carefully. Stand back and look. How easy and creative was that?

OLD WHEELBARROW

I have an old wheelbarrow that belonged to my husband's father. It was well past its useful days, but I really wanted to keep it and use it for something. Several years ago, I decided to make a planter out of it. Today it sits in my back yard with a nice planting of aloe vera in it.

ANTIQUE BOWL AND PITCHER

I also have an antique bowl and pitcher that was in a cabinet. Since I always have cut flowers in my home, I decided to make use of this as a container. It sits on a counter in my kitchen with fresh flowers and always adds color.

BRAKE DRUM

Yes, that is what I meant to write! I drove around to see what else I could find in other people's yards. In one yard in Northcrest, I saw a most unusual container. I slowed my car then finally pulled into the driveway. It looked sort of like a large kettle that I had seen in some people's yard, but not really. What was this thing?

Since it was someone else's yard, I went up to the door to see if I could get permission to take a photograph of the pot and find out exactly what that thing was. No one answered the door, so I started backing out of the driveway. A very lovely lady drove up into her garage. I got out of my car, introduced myself and told her what I was up to. She shared the loveliest memory with me.

She told me that her late husband had put this in her yard and that it was a large truck brake drum! It made a perfect creative container. She kindly gave my friend and I permission to take a couple of pictures.

What a wonderful remembrance she has, and she was very kind to share it with me.

BATHROOM FIXTURES

There is a house in a nearby town that always plants bright jewel-toned flowers in an old claw-footed bathtub. Now, that is a statement! I have also seen bathtubs used as fishponds. They do provide for creative and useful purposes.

Somewhere in Victoria, while I was meandering around looking for creative planters, I saw an old toilet happily planted with marigolds. I must say that is a creative use of a necessary bathroom fixture!

PUMPKINS AND SQUASH

I have also seen pumpkins and winter squash used for temporary planters. To do this, you need to cut out the top, scoop out the seeds, punch or drill a hole in the bottom and rinse. Turn upside down and let drain and dry for a couple of hours.

Now you are ready to fill your container. Just put a handful of moss in the bottom and fill with soil.

Then carefully place your plant, lightly water it in and you have an instant colorful presentation.

Planting your favorite plants in containers and placing them just where you want them can surely be satisfying and even relaxing, but using unusual existing items that are different from the norm can be eye-catching and reminiscent of a favorite pastime or loved one. Just remember to make a hole in the bottom to provide drainage. Try a thing or two, and you, too, will be surprised how creative you can be!