The Dirt on Creative Containers

A master gardener offers suggestions on different kinds of garden containers.

Colander planter

colanders have great drainage

colanders have great drainage

Figure A

Which containers do you use indoors? Lots of people use a kitchen windowsill to display plants, so I like to look through the kitchen for inspiration. Pack some sphagnum moss around the inside to hold the soil and then fill it up. Teapots are another fun option. You'll have to work a little to make them work as a container, though. Drill some holes in the bottom so the water will drain out, then set it on a tray filled with gravel. Herbs are a perfect plant choice for these containers too. Next time you're in the kitchen cooking, they'll be right within reach.

Shoe containers

store items make whimsical planters

store items make whimsical planters

Figure B

Which items do you use for containers outdoors? Drill holes in the bottom of a shoe and the gap in the heel will raise it up to drain out. It's a tall, cylindrical container, so annuals are a good choice for this because their roots won't have time to outgrow the container in one season. A cactus is also a great choice because it matches the theme. You will have to replant it next year, and make sure you use a cactus mix. Planted purses are really cute containers to hang along a fence. It's another one that will only last a season, and you'll have to add drainage holes.

Planters for the sports lover

novelty planters are fun for kids

novelty planters are fun for kids

Figure C

Soccer balls are always popular with kids. Create drainage by drilling holes in the bottom and cut out a planting hole at the top. This won't hold up past one season, so plant annuals in them. Marigolds are kid friendly because they're easy to grow and they're colorful. Top it off with marbles. They'll block out light and retain moisture just like any other mulch, but they're much more fun.

Thrift store treasure

plant low growing herbs right in seat of a chair

plant low growing herbs right in seat of a chair

Figure D

Do you have any ideas for adults that are maybe still kids at heart? A personal favorite is called a "Living Chair." You can even go as far as to plant an entire dining set. Here's how you do it:
Remove the seat of the chair.
Staple chicken wire around the edges where the seat used to be. Give it a little dip to create a bowl effect so it looks similar to a shallow hanging basket.

Planting the moss

cover chicken wire with sphagnum moss

cover chicken wire with sphagnum moss

Figure E

Read the label before you buy the moss to make sure it doesn't contain herbicides. The moss they sell in craft stores is usually treated with it and it'll kill your plants.
Fill in the rest of the bowl with potting soil.

Unique addition to a garden

thrift store chair is unique addition to garden

thrift store chair is unique addition to garden

One of Kathy's more unconventional "container" plantings.

Plant whatever you like on your chair. Low growing thyme and oregano work well because they grow along edge of seat and fill in pretty quickly. This container is similar to a hanging basket so the same maintenance rules apply. The main thing to remember is to water and fertilize it more often than your other plants since it will have such good drainage.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Organic Gardening

Learn about some of the unusual but effective practices of organic gardening.

Gardening for Good Causes

Any gardening enthusiast can use his or her gardening skills to benefit others in their community. Here are some basic tips and guidelines.

Growing Culinary Herbs

A master gardener gives tips on growing herbs at home.

How to Plant and Grow Peas

To be a successful backyard pea farmer -- and picker -- follow directions, keep the birds away and feed the soil.

How to Grow Perennial Flowers from Seed

Buying container-grown perennials can get pricey. Save money by following this step-by-step guide for growing your own perennials from seed.

Greenhouse Advice

Learn about propagating, or reproducing, plants from seeds, then get some tips for using containers to start the tender seeds.

Homegrown Stone Pots

The bigger a pot, the more it costs. Why not make your own inexpensive container, one that can withstand the test of time and the elements? Learn how to construct a homemade hypertufa trough.

Using Air Conditioner Condensation

Here's an unexpected source of water for the garden: An air conditioner's condensation pipe.

More Items for a Nursery Shopping List

Learn about several plant varieties and zone information for each one.

Soil Specifics

Learn how to check soil conditions and what kinds of characteristics "good" soil should have.

On TV

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.