DIY CONCRETE POTS, FOR PLANTS
Let me start off by saying, if this project intimidates you, it shouldn’t! If you have worked with concrete before, even better.
But, no matter what your experience level is, don’t be afraid to try this out! I personally had never worked with concrete, EVER, until my good friend, Angelica, and I decided on a whim to try out making some planters!
While there were some VERY entertaining moments (like us spilling bags of concrete all over the floor of the hardware store) and some failed attempts and cracked planters, we finally got it down, and now I can’t stop making them!
Every time I see something that is a fun shape, my first thought is, “I could probably make a concrete planter out of that!” So now, I am going to share with you, how we made it work, in ways that even someone who has never used concrete before can easily understand. (and how to fix your mistakes if you end up breaking one!)
Keep reading to find out how! Or you can check out PlantedinPots on Youtube, to watch the video!
The first step is to collect your materials, vegetable oil, a pool noodle, duct tape, concrete, nitrile coated gloves, a small shovel, a bucket to mix your concrete in, a face mask, and Rustolem matte clear spray paint. In addition, you will also need items that will become your molds for the pots. Personally, I ventured off to Goodwill and the Dollar Tree, as well as using some recycled materials from around the house.
A couple things to keep in mind while you’re looking for the molds:
- You need an inner mold and an outer mold, they shouldn’t be too close in size (as you want the concrete to be thick enough that it doesn’t crack) but they also shouldn’t be too far apart in size (as this will make your planter VERY heavy.)
- Materials you should be looking for: Styrofoam, plastic, cardboard or glass. DO NOT USE METAL. It expands and you will not be able to get it out without killing yourself and breaking a couple of can openers. (I know this from experience).
- If you use glass, in most cases you will need to break the molds to get them off of the concrete, so keep this in mind! They will most likely be single use molds.
DO NOT USE METAL. It expands and you will not be able to get it out without killing yourself and breaking a couple of can openers.
Prepping your molds:
Once you have your molds, you will start prepping for the drainage holes. Anyone who is into plants knows, that finding the perfect planter without a drainage
hole (unless your falsely potting) is like the worst thing, ever! So, lets make sure these babies have them! For this part, whip out your pool noodle (I picked up mine on my trip to the dollar store) and hold it up to the first molds you’re going to use. You are going to want to cut the pool noodle to the height between the larger mold and the inner mold. (So when you put the inner mold in, it rests on top of the pool noodle.) Then, take a piece of duct tape and secure the pool noodle to the bottom interior of the outer mold (or the exterior of the inner mold) press the tape down well.
Then, you’re going to take your vegetable oil, and cover the exterior of the inner mold generously, as well as the interior of the outer mold. This will help when removing your molds from the concrete later, So make sure and lather them up well! (Don’t forget to put the oil on the noodle – just think pasta!)
Now it is time mix your concrete and make your pots!
Take your bucket, and add a little bit of water. This is kind of trial and error. So start with a couple of cups worth. Then add some concrete. Mix. Keep adding slowly, until you get to the right amount of concrete and it is mixed to be like an oatmealy/peanut butter consistency.
Depending on the type of concrete you use, it does dry out rather quickly when exposed to open air (while in your mold it dries much slower, depending on the materials used). Because of this, I found it was much easier to make the concrete in smaller amounts (enough for one planter at a time, or a couple of small planters).
Building it up by slowly adding concrete and water as you mix, makes it a lot more easy to mix. If you dump the whole bag of concrete into the bucket, and then adding water, will most likely lead to your mix being too watery as well as your arm being ready to fall off.
Once your concrete is fully mixed, pour or shovel the concrete into the outer mold. Don’t fill it up all the way (more like half) because you’re going to now push the inner mold until you get to the pool noodle! tap/shake the mold, to get out the air bubbles and disperse the concrete. Then, put something heavy (I used paint buckets, packs of beer and bricks for different molds) on top of the inner mold (or inside of it) to hold it in place so it doesn’t float up or shift. Put it somewhere to dry, and start on your next mold!
The planters will take a while to dry, so wait at minimum a few days, depending on the thickness of the mix you used, the size of the planters, the material and the weather!
Once they are completely dry, you can remove them from the molds. Keep in mind, some molds will be easier than others to take out. You may have to beat some, break some glass or get creative with some tools. However, some seem to slide right out! For the inner molds, I find that jiggling them slightly before trying to pull them out works wonders, and for the outer molds, especially on the heavier pieces, gravity is your friend! flip those babies upside down! It is a LOT easier to get them out if the concrete is completely dry. Think of the concrete like soil, even if the top is dry, the bottom is most likely not, so patience is key here!
Think of the concrete like soil, even if the top is dry, the bottom is most likely not.
Once your planters are out of their molds, I recommend letting them fully dry out, then spray them down with Rustoleum clear matte spray paint. Some types of concrete can also release chemicals over time into your soil, causing the pH to raise, depending on where you live and what the climate is, so a recommendation is to leave them out in the rain or hose them down well before you plant your plant in them.
Reddit users also recommended soaking them with a mix of vinegar and water followed by sealing with a “concrete sealant”. I have not tried this method, but this could be another way to avoid raising the pH in the soil or soaking them in a bucket with a trickle of water running through it for a few days. Or, you can choose to falsely pot the plants, in a grow pot, which will also help. I’d love to hear your experiences with concrete planters as you try it! I am not certain if any issues will be caused, and I am not extraordinarily concerned, as the reading I did noticed it is rare for the issues to occur.
Personally, I am going to run water through them use the rustoleum clear spray paint and keep an eye on the plants inside of them!
Now, the only thing left to do is take some beautiful plants, and get them PlantedinPots!
Here are the links from products I really use! Some are amazon affiliate links. If you buy anything using these links, I may make a small commission, so thanks!
Materials for planters:
- Molds: Styrofoam, plastic, glass or cardboard
- recycled items or things from Goodwill or Dollar Tree!
- Quikrete Quick Setting Cement 10-15 Min 10 Lb https://amzn.to/2YwDrYp
- Quikrete mortar: https://amzn.to/3crrziu
- Small shovel: https://amzn.to/3rbujVE
- Nitrile disposable gloves: https://amzn.to/3r9NgYB
- Reusable nitrile gloves: https://amzn.to/3adZsk4
- Duct tape: https://amzn.to/3tduh19
- Pool noodle: https://amzn.to/3tdeqzv
- Vegetable oil: https://amzn.to/3tgcLcL
- Rustoleum clear matte spray paint: https://amzn.to/2MdvlBH
For repairs (if you crack one of your planters!):
- Putty knife: https://amzn.to/2Yz4u5j
- Versa bond thin set mortar: https://amzn.to/2NTQuBe
- Gorilla Glue: https://amzn.to/2MEOdcs