Whether you're scouring a local flea market, thrift store, yard sale or even a recycling bin, you're sure to find a variety of items that will add style and vintage flair to your space! And castoff items like baskets, watering cans, tea kettles, bread boxes and beyond make surprisingly fun and functional DIY planters. Here, we spoke to DIY and flea market experts to find out the easiest ways to turn trash into treasure. Their tips are guaranteed to turn your space into a charming oasis!
How to spot potential DIY planters
DIY pro Jeannine Rose, founder of Sweet Humble Home, offers up this tip for spotting a "good find" while thrifting: "I have discovered that the charm of the perfect item often resides both in its character and its practicality: Look for pieces that make you see and feel that your creativity is sparked; but don't overlook the importance of understanding the function of the item. Will it work as a planter? Is the item going to be used only for display? What is the function it will serve in your home?"
“Secondhand finds are thrilling — I love to immerse myself in the joy of the hunt and the possibilities of discovery,” says design pro Emily Chalmers, author of Flea Market Style. "And repurposing old items as wow-worthy planters is a simple way to beautify your space indoors and out!" Keep reading for 10 savvy and unexpected upcycled planter ideas.
DIY Planter #1: From watering can to whimsical cachepot
An old watering can makes the perfect vessel for petite potted plants or handfuls of fresh-cut garden blooms. Showcase it in your home or gift it to a friend! To do: Apply 2 to 3 light coats of high-gloss orange paint to a small watering can (use water-resistant acrylic paint or spray paint). Let dry, then fill with water and just-picked garden blooms or a small potted plant. Display on a tabletop.
DIY Planter #2: From colander to sweet portable pot
“Strainers already have built-in drainage, so if you see a colander at a thrift store, it can easily be made into a charming planter,” says Rose. “It’s practical yet also offers a pretty touch to an outdoor garden or patio area. Plus, most have handles so your planter is perfectly portable to move around your patio as needed!” To do: Line the colander with piece of burlap, then add soil to it and tuck in plants (or even a mix of herbs) into the soil. Place in a spot that gets a lot of bright light and water regularly.
DIY Planter #3: From teapot to pretty vase centerpiece
A teapot found at a thrift store gets a quick makeover, thanks to some vibrant paint and fresh blooms. To do: Place teapot on a piece of newspaper. Paint entire teapot with green-hued spray paint; let dry. Add another coat; let dry. Then, fill the teapot with a block of soaked floral foam. Snip one or two large garden blooms (or pick up a bunch of flowers from the supermarket!) and from-the-yard greenery to varying heights. Then, insert blooms and greenery into foam one by one forming a relaxed mound shape. Display on tabletop. (Click through to find smart tips on extending the life of your fresh-cut blooms!)
DIY Planter #4: From coffee canister to lovely seasonal display
Trash to treasure, indeed! All it takes is a little paint and some twine to turn a coffee can into a fun, shatterproof flower vase — like this one crafted by Holly Gagnon, founder of DIY blog Ribbons and Glue — for your dining or patio table. What’s more? You can customize it with a festive phrase or greeting that’s sure to wow guests! To do: Cover an empty coffee can with two coats of yellow spray paint. Let dry, then press on craft-store letter stickers to spell out a seasonal word, like "fall." Then tie a few lengths of twine around the can, below the stickers. To finish, add water and seasonal fresh-snipped blooms to the can.
DIY Planter #5: From wicker basket to casual planter
“Plain wicker baskets are something I always look for in secondhand stores because you can quickly turn them into something functional,” says Rose. To do: Add a piece of masking tape around the middle of the basket. Spray-paint the bottom half of the basket's exterior with a green-hued waterproof spray paint. Let dry. Apply one more coat; let dry. Remove masking tape. Drop a potted plant into the basket.
DIY Planter #6: From bike to beautiful blooming focal point
“Revamping secondhand and thrift-store finds into striking planters brings delight and enchantment to any space,” says DIY pro Rose. “Here, a castoff bike is transformed into a vibrant backyard focal point — it’s whimsical and clever!” To do: Lightly rub down the whole bike with a piece of medium-grit sandpaper. Spray two coats of yellow spray paint all over bike; let dry between coats. Add a yellow planter to the bike’s front basket and attach one or two planters to the back basket using S hooks.
DIY Planter #7: From breadbox to rustic-chic windowsill 'garden'
“Upcycled planters made from flea market finds like an old bread box add whimsy, style and joy to any outdoor space,” says landscape designer Jan Johnsen, author of Gardentopia and Floratopia. Here, a bread box filled with succulents serves as a lovely living floral centerpiece for a picnic or dining table, and it can be easily picked up and moved to any part of your home or yard. To get the look, sprinkle a layer of pebbles into the bottom of a metal bread box, then the fill the box with well-draining soil. Nestle roots of succulents (like echeveria, sempervivum and sansevieria) into soil. Set in bright, indirect sunlight and water when soil is dry. Love succulents? Click through for tips to grow your own succulent garden.
DIY Planter #8: From wooden pallet to striking 'living wall'
A pallet garden — like this one created by DIY pro Jessica of Little Wooly Lamb — adds eye-catching interest to a bare wall. What’s more? You can pick up pallets for free from hardware stores, garden stores or even furniture stores. Just ask the business if they have any that they’d be willing to part with! Then, get the look of this pallet planter by leaning the pallet against a wall, as shown. Next, slip a 40" tall burlap sack (or black fabric grow bag) inside the left half of the pallet and use a staple gun to attach the sack to the inside of the walls; repeat on the right half with another sack. Fill the sacks with soil, then lay the pallet flat. Use scissors to snip holes in the burlap between the slats and nestle roots of lettuce plants, flowers and herbs into the holes. To display, stand pallet upright and lean against a wall. Give full sun and keep soil moist.
DIY Planter #9: From ladder to wow-worthy vertical gardenscape
“An upcycled ladder display adds depth and vertical interest to a forgotten corner on a porch or patio,” notes Johnsen. “Plus, it’s a great way to show off a collection of potted plants or favorite flea market finds.” To get the look, set up a thrifted ladder in a sunny corner of your yard, then place assorted potted plants or herbs on the steps. Give full sun and keep plant soil evenly moist. (Click through to our sister site for more vertical garden ideas)
DIY Planter #10: From rain boots to pretty posy pots
An old pair of rain boots becomes a cheery plant stand perfect for brightening up bare tree stumps or steps on a patio. Simply drill a hole into the bottom of each boot for drainage, then fill the with potting soil and nestle plants (like calibrachoa or chrysanthemum) into the soil inside boots. Give full sun to part shade and water once daily.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.