Garden containers need not be only terra-cotta. Our ideas for creative flowerpots and containers will enhance the beauty of their contents.
For cheerful containers, stain pots in colors that complement their contents. Terra-cotta is very porous, so it's important to use materials that won't harm the plants, like the all-natural powdered pigments shown at left.
Organize plants and seedlings, and identify homegrown kitchen herbs, by painting the collars of clay pots with stripes of chalkboard paint (available at crafts stores). After the paint dries, write the name of each plant using chalk. You can make note of feeding and watering needs, too. The chalkboard stripe will wipe clean with a damp cloth.
A coat of vibrant paint can make a world of difference to a store-bought pot and lend a pop of color to your porch or patio.
Oil-based enamel paints lend these pots luster. Use one or two coats, depending on the hue. Paint bottom portion, holding onto the rim; let dry four hours. Paint rim; let dry overnight.
Give each herb its own personalized pot, and you'll never snip the wrong sprigs -- or lose the markers -- again. Clustered together, the pots make a charming little garden. Individually, they're portable and easy to handle: Bring the basil indoors, for example, when making pesto, instead of stooping in the garden. When you plant the herbs, label the rims with a permanent felt-tip marker, and use these pots year after year.
Here's an easy way to give new life to old terra-cotta pots you have around the shed: Paint them to create coordinating stripes. Using masking tape in various widths, mark a simple striped design on the pot. In a well-ventilated area, spray the exterior and the rim (and any accompanying saucers) with weatherproof spray paint; let dry completely. Peel off tape.
Introducing height and structure to your garden with tiered planters is easy. Begin by finding three pots of descending size with drainage holes. The pots can be uniform in style or mixed. This example uses terra-cotta pots; the one at the base is two feet in diameter.
Choose a location carefully; the final construction will be very heavy. Fill the largest pot evenly with potting mix nearly to the rim. Center the medium-size pot on the larger one, then fill; follow with the smallest. Select plants of various colors to accentuate the tiered configuration; trailing foliage creates a hanging-garden effect.
Although mossy pots are available in fashionable flower shops, you can make your own. Paint unglazed terra-cotta pots with yogurt, buttermilk, plant-food solution, or beer, then rub with earth; keep pots moist by planting something in them and watering. In three months they'll look centuries old.
These rounded pots owe their smooth, elegant forms to a kitchen workhorse: the metal mixing bowl, in two sizes. Masonry stain added to the basic hypertufa formula imparts a cool blue hue. Mixed groupings of dwarf plants -- conifers, ground covers, and hostas -- fill the hemispheres.
Heavy potted plants are easily moved with a homemade dolly. Begin by finding a flat stone that is large enough to hold the pot. Cut a piece of 3/4-inch-thick exterior plywood into a square just smaller than the stone. Stain the plywood to match the stone's color, and attach four casters to the bottom. Set the stone on the plywood and the pot on the stone. Hold the pot when moving to avoid tipping.
Potted plants add a lush swatch of green to any outdoor room, but the soil they grow in has never done much for any decor. A layer of small, round pebbles arranged over the soil's surface looks as neat and tidy as a Japanese garden and helps keep the ground beneath it moist and shady, which is just the way most houseplants like it. Bags of small black or white river pebbles can be bought from plant or garden stores and arranged in concentric circles in your pots.
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