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Tired of Terra Cotta? Take Your Plants Thrifting, A Guide

Tired of Terra Cotta? Take Your Plants Thrifting, A Guide


It’s easy to grow tired of terra cotta. While these classic clay pots offer a lower-priced planter option complete with drainage, they can quickly become less charming when most of your collection is dressed in orange. Just like us, though, our plant friends can find neat new things to wear at thrift stores! Here is a quick guide to alternative planter ideas that will cultivate some creativity in your planting on a budget.

Alternative Planter Ideas - Pistils Nursery

Alternative Planter Ideas

Buying goods second hand is exciting and a practice to feel good about. It is a sort of scavenger hunt that saves the environment and your wallet too. When you buy clothes and household items second hand, you save them from being discarded into overstuffed landfills. So while you are pursuing that perfect pair of vintage denim jeans, why not keep an eye out for planters?

The key is that not every planter has to be a pot. A whole range of household items can easily be converted into planters – from old cameras to antique coffee and tea tins. Perhaps you could build a succulent garden atop a broken typewriter. We find this idea of giving forgotten treasures a new life terribly romantic and wonderfully practical.

Alternative planter ideas - Pistils Nursery

What Could be a Planter?

The limit is really your imagination. Why not put a Philodendron in a tea tin, a cactus in a teapot, or an air plant atop a candle stick? #Interiorrewilding isn’t limited to beautiful handmade pottery – although we love having a few of these around too. You might even have some creative planters collecting dust in an attic or stuffed in the corner of your closet. Here is a list of common items to look out for the next time you thrift.

  • Glassware: bottles are great to use for propagation; mason jars and fishbowls can be transformed into terrariums.

  • Baskets: most thrift stores have a big basket section, and sometimes you can find neatly woven and perfectly plant-shaped goods here. Consider even painting them to a color you like! To give this alternative planter a longer lifespan, be sure to also grab a plastic tray insert for your plant to sit in, so that water doesn’t stain and degrade the basket’s exterior when you water.

  • Kitchen Items: tea cups, teapots, ornate silver platters, and tins are just some of the planters that can be found here. Cast iron pots, pans, and other dish-ware works wonderfully too.

  • Damaged Goods: items that cannot be used for their intended purpose are great to salvage and pot up some plants in. Some alternative planter ideas in this category include: brass instruments, old cameras, or a typewriter missing some keys.

Alternative planter ideas - pistils nursery

Solutions for Drainage

Many of these creative planters won’t have drainage holes built in as they were not made to be pots. Consider some of these tricks to make sure your plants are as happy as you are about their new homes.

  • Make your alternative planter into a cachepot rather than direct planting. You’ll disguise your terra cotta or nursery pot by slipping it inside another container, making it appear to be directly planted. This preserves the drainage and hides the vessel!
  • Phone a friend who is good with power tools to drill a hole in the bottom for you if possible. Most clay vessels can be easily drilled with a masonry bit
  • Add activated charcoal to the bottom of pots to help with water absorption in the soil
  • Plants that don’t need to be watered very often are ideal for planting directly. Some of our favorites include: snake plants (Sansevieria Spp.), cacti, and succulents

Alternative planter ideas - pistils nursery

Whether you are tired of your own terra cotta, creating a unique gift for a friend, or looking for something to do with that extra basket, creative planting is a fun and inexpensive way to spruce up your plant collection.

So, grab your favorite reusable tote bag and take your plants thrifting! You may be surprised by the alternative planter ideas you can dig up.

By: Brittany Oxford

Alternative Planter Ideas - Pistils Nursery