From empty passata jars to old shoes, we show you how to creatively rethink your recyclables and turn them into nifty upcycled planter ideas.
You’ve got your composting down pat, cloth bags are your go-to and your veggie patch is thriving. Your kids have turned an old egg carton into a handy little seed raiser and had a fun making a glass jar sprouter like this one.
But what do you do with your favourite pair of Blundstones that have lost their elastic, or the gorgeous pair of toddler gumboots you can’t bear to part with?
What about those empty tomato tins you’ve used to make a lasagna for that post-iso neighbourhood street party? Or the scrunched up plastic bag that’s languishing in a kitchen drawer?
These seven DIY upcycled planter ideas provide a low-cost way to green your indoor space while reducing what ends up in your recycling bin.
7 upcycled planter ideas
1. Plant balls
My daughters and I have been thinking about how we can provide some solutions to our own – minimal but still existent – single-use plastic problem.
While we all do our best to limit our use of plastic bags, sometimes those pesky things just seem to make their way into our homes.
If you find yourself with a supply of plastic shopping bags then either recycle them via RedCycle, or, upcycle them into nifty upcycled planter ideas!
On this occasion we were inspired by the practice of Japanese plant ball making, known as kokedama.
Our experiment began with the cuttings of some overgrown wild violets in our garden. Violets are a lovely ground cover for a shady area; the blue wrens love them at our house, and they have an edible flower and leaf if you are game to try them.
For a longer-lasting plant ball, think plants that need less water such as succulents or string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii).
How to make your plant ball
Step 1: Ensuring we had a piece of the plant’s roots in every cutting, we filled an old apple bag with approximately two cups of moist soil, rolling the top of the bag to form a bowl shape and then placing the plant’s roots into the centre.
Step 2: We then used our hands to secure the bag of soil in the shape of a ball, twisting and tightening the bag at the top until we had this as a firm shape.
Step 3: We tied the bag in place at the neck with an elastic band we had kept from buying asparagus. We further rolled the top of the bag until it formed the shape of a kind of turtleneck jumper.
Step 4: We then took a couple of pieces of tissue paper we had kept from moving house a few years back and tied off the wrapped plant ball with some thick purple wool we found in an op shop.
The paper was cut into the shape of a square, placing the plant ball in the middle and ensuring there was enough paper to be folded into place to cover the plastic bag entirely.
The paper was then secured in place with two recycled plastic bands.
Both plant balls have been delivered as gifts to our daughter’s primary school teachers as a thank you for all their hard work during Covid-19.
From man-sized work boots to bub’s old gummies, these kinds of footwear can make for some next level upcycling.
Fill the toes of the gumboots with soil and use them to make a home for your favourite drought-tolerant succulents.
3. Jam jars
Jam jars are a beautiful way to add greenery to your table, while keeping your jars in circulation and not bursting out of cupboards.
Simply find a sprig of an edible herb or even a beautiful stem of camellia or hydrangea, pop some water in the jar and you’ve got yourself a decorative vase.
From fine boned china to funky old mugs, your traditional teacup can be transformed into something that can be used a multitude of times.
Teacups can be repurposed as a seed raising kit for the kids if they can go easy on the water, or perhaps it can be used to home a lush, green succulent.
5. Wine crates
Keep things cashless and cost-free by saving your seeds and growing a gift for someone you love. Imagine receiving a box full of sunflowers or mixed lettuce for your sunny kitchen table.
Wine crates can even make a clever little herb garden for an apartment. Just add oregano, sage, rosemary and lavender to present to your nearest and dearest.
6. Tin cans
Whether it’s an old tin watering can or a row of pretty cans which once housed diced tomatoes, these sturdy recyclables can change their status to upcyclables quick smart when you think plants.
Use tin cans as vases for cut flowers or poke a few holes into others for some lavender bushes or tulip bulbs.
7. Old toys
From the trays of toy trucks, wooden block trolleys and the tops of a doll’s head cut to grow your latest patch of strawberries, upcycling an old toy can be a fun way to get your kids to start thinking about how to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Simply scan the toy box for anything that can no longer be passed on, grab some dirt, and get dividing those strawberry plants for next season!