diy project: recycled upside down planters



well it’s the middle of april, and i must have springtime on the brain, because all i want to do is look at plants all day. i have had my eye on the sky planters by boskke since christmas time; something about upside down plants really strikes me as beautiful and intriguing. but i am low on funds, so i decided to try making my own with leftover containers from the various food items that make their way through my kitchen. surprisingly, there are a lot of container options for these nifty planters! the best are tins cans with plastic lids (items that usually come in these include coffee, instant cocoa mix, fiber drink mix, basically anything powdered or loose…yum!) or good old plastic bottles- the very symbol of consumer vs. environment. i researched tirelessly on the internet for some tips of upside down planters and saw many methods, but in the end i decided to combine some things and experiment with a few other ideas to come up with my own way which has worked out quite nicely. these are cheap, easy to make, and have had good results so far. i feel for you urban gardeners out there with no outdoor space, and i hope these can bring some green into your rooms for spring. have fun!! – kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

materials:
1. tin cans w/ plastic resealable lid or plastic liter soda bottles
2. a wire hanger (like from the dry cleaners)
3. fabric scraps
4. scissors and an exacto knife
5. hair dryer (if using plastic water bottles)
6. can opener (if using tin cans)
7. plants (herbs work well for these, also tomatoes and some flowers)
8. duct tape
9. spray adhesive (optional)
10. drill (or a hammer and a nail will work – this is for making small holes)
11. potting soil
12. coffee filters or landscape fabric scraps
13. wire cutters and pliers

cost:
soil/plants: $10
duct tape: $5
containers: free, on hand

time:
2-3 hours

instructions:

for can planter:

1. peel labels off the can, then wash and dry the can thoroughly.

2. use a can opener to remove the bottom of the can.

3. make holes in the disc that was the bottom of the can. you can use a drill with a tiny bit, or a hammer and nail. use the hammer to flatten any loose bits of metal that pop up from the holes, for safety. also make two holes in the sides of the can 1/4″ from the bottom, equidistant from each other, and on opposite sides of the can. these are for hanging the planter.

4. put your hand up through the tin can and hold the bottom inside it, and inch down from where it was originally attached. use duct tape to tape the bottom firmly in this position. when you are done taping, you will have a can with the bottom recessed an inch into the can and with little holes in it.

5. flip the can over and put some soil in. place your plant in next and fill the can with soil around your plant. pack firmly so the soil is pretty tight, filling up to the top of the can.

6. trace the bottom of the can on a coffee filter or landscape fabric and cut out the circle. fold the circle in half, and cut a small hole in the center of the circle. this hole should be the diameter of your plants main stem. cut one slit in the circle from the outside to the hole in the center.

7. slide this circle around the plant stem and rest it on top of the can. this will prevent soil from spilling out when the planter is flipped over.

8. trace a circular object with an approximately 2″ diameter in the center of the plastic lid of the can. cut this circle out with an exacto knife.

9. gently maneuver your plant through this hole, sliding the plastic lid towards the rim of the can, pulling leaves gently through the hole. close the can tightly with the plastic lid. put a ring of duct tape around the top rim of the can, sealing the connection between the lid and the can.

10. cut a piece of fabric to wrap around the circumference of the can with 1/4″ overlap. make this piece of fabric 1/2 inch longer than the height of the can.

11. spray the inside of the fabric with spray adhesive and wrap it neatly around the planter, starting flush with the bottom of the planter (where the plant comes out), hiding all the duct tape. fold the extra 1/4″ of fabric over the top lip of the planter (which used to be the bottom) into the recessed portion, adding extra adhesive to keep it stuck down if necessary.

12. find the two hanger holes with your fingers and use a needle or a nail to poke through the fabric to reopen the holes. cut a 5″ piece of wire from the wire hanger and bend the two ends into small u-hooks. bend the wire into a “c” shape and hook the ends through the two hanger holes, creating a handle for hanging the planter.

for the bottle planter:

1. clean, wash, and dry the bottle.

2. use your exacto knife to cut the mouth of the bottle, leaving a hole with a 2-3″ diameter at the top of the bottle neck. also cut the bottom of the bottle off where the bottom of the label line would be. keep the bottom and throw out the bottle mouth and cap.

3. use your hairdryer to soften the plastic at the top of the bottle neck. with your hairdryer on high, wave it near the top of the bottle for a few seconds, until you see the plastic warping. then use your fingers (the plastic will be hot but not burning) to push the top of the bottle inward, inverting the conical part into the body of the bottle. the bottle should fold inward so that by pushing in the curved neck, you have created an even cylinder on the outside.

4. use a drill or a hammer and nail to poke small holes in the bottom piece of the bottle, which you had just removed.

5. trace the bottom of the bottle on a coffee filter or landscape fabric and cut out the circle. cut a small hole in the center of the circle, the diameter of your plant stem, and cut a slit from outside to the center hole.

6. remove most of the surrounding soil from your plant, leaving only roots. place the filter around the stem of your plant (like your plan is wearing a bib). feed your plant gently from the opening in the bottom of the bottle through the hole in the top of the bottle.

7. now fill the planter through the bottom with soil, packing it tightly against the roots of the plant. fill it almost to the top, then tuck the bottom of the bottle back inside the planter, packing the soil in. put a ring of duct tape around the lip of the bottom and the bottle, so now the bottom is recessed into the planter. the inset lip of the top of the bottle allows water to drip down the sides, and not spill out the hole.

8. poke two small holes across from each other down 1/4″ from the top rim (by the top i mean the old bottom, because now the planter is upside down).

9. follow steps 10-12 from the can planter to cover your bottle planter with fabric and attach the hanger handle.

10. hang your planters somewhere with good light. the great thing is that they are easy to relocate if they are getting too much/too little sun.

YOU’RE DONE!!

  1. Gail says:

    We’re building a patio and these would be more attractive than the store bought ones.. Thank you for sharing….

  2. Can you give an update on how the plants did or are doing? I want to try tomatoes this way as I can’t afford that topsy turvy thing and I can’t plant in the ground because of our dogs. I know tomato plants can get quite heavy. Is the hanger strong enough to hold it once it starts bearing fruit?

  3. stephan says:

    Many people have criticized the selection of orchids. However, the nature of the phalaenopsis orchid like flowers growing down.
    roots growing sideways
    leaves growing down and sideways

    http://greendom.net/images/plants/orchids/phalaenopsis2.jpg

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8mbWgZpM0mo/TnyKlmalTwI/AAAAAAAABAs/GDpeeS-5MJk/s400/1raiz+dendobrium.jpg

    http://www.ranwild.org/Phalaenopsis/phalimage/root3-1.jpg

    if such a landing to provide aeration of the roots of problems I think not. For example as Vanda bare roots in a vase.

    an interesting idea. But we must try.

    ps: sorry for bad english

  4. Karin says:

    This is brilliant! Thanx for sharing :) I made one yesterday with a bottle, and I’m very happy with it :) Good tutorial!

  5. Claire says:

    What a great idea- so easy and useful! Awesome tutorial!

  6. ladybug2535 says:

    I see no problem with the plants curling up towards the sun, if anything it could make them at least look more lush. I think this could be quite lovely. The whole trick, as with any new planting is figuring out the right amount of water and location. I did wonder though about using potting soil for orchids…

  7. Vina says:

    You are such a genius, I’m so happy I found this, can’t wait to try it out. Thanks darling.

  8. Scarlet says:

    Great idea and the cloth covering make these upcycle projects look very stylish too!

  9. sasha says:

    Any advice on how big the plants should be before replanting into a container like this?

  10. Anatevka says:

    Hello, thanks for this!

    I’m curious, why do we poke holes, would it be easier to cut off the (old)bottom and use a lid on each side? that way you could re-use or access easier?

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