I keep finding myself going smaller and smaller with the DIY-ed portland cement planters. My latest one is a mini, and the perfect size for my newest baby-succulent that I brought home from Home Depot a few months ago (read about that excursion here). It sits right at home in an ornate Japanese dish I acquired at a tsotchke shop years ago.
Note: You always need something underneath a concrete planter – do not just let it sit freestanding on your windowsill and expect it to hold in moisture.
The first cement planter was a monster, and even though it had broken into multiple pieces after I had shot putted the mold through the yard dozens of times, gluing it together with E-6000 seemed to be the cure-all.
The second one I created was on a smaller scale, making use of a few recycled 3-gallon planters from previous Home Depot purchases. More manageable in size and weight, I also had better luck when removing the form from the mold: No crackage. I completely attribute it’s solid structure to the fact that the mold was very maleable and could be flexed away from the cement (once it had tried) and torn off with practically no struggle. So far, that little fern that was a $1 end-of-the-season find at the neighborhood market is doing very well.
But both of my first planter attempts were still big. And furthermore, neither of those planters were ready to live in the house full-time because I was concerned about the cement absorbing all of the moisture from the plants when I watered, and redistributing it into my hardwood floorboards through the bottom (also, yes, there are drainage holes drilled in the bottom so it was more likely to drip right on through to the floor, no obstruction). For the biggest planter at the very least, I needed to come up with an indoor living solution because the base of the pot was sizably larger than any plastic planter trays I already owned.
The perfect fix appeared before me before I really had a chance to give it much thought or shop around; very simply, I found my treasures in Pete’s parents attic when we were helpin’ out with a Labor Day weekend clean-out. The basic plastic trays caught my eye, and found their way home with me instead of being thrown into the dumpster. I couldn’t be sure at the time, but I definitely thought there was a slight chance that they might be exactly the same size as the ginormous planter with tropical-ish leafy plant that was still hanging out on the porch slowly taking a beating from the cooler night air.
And twa-la, wouldn’t you know that my spider senses were spot on? The planter fit perfectly in this tray (while the previously-largest tray in my stash that wasn’t quite big enough looks on in jealousy).
Of course, the reason I didn’t rush right out and get a new big plastic faux-terra cotta planter at Home Depot was because it didn’t really vibe with the straight-lined, wants-to-look-totally-au-natural cement planter. The clear plastic one is a much more simplistic alternative (and low profile, kind of like low-rise socks of the indoor gardening world), but still a reliable alternative to keep my floor dry and keep the clean lines of the planter exposed.
I thought I could take it one stage further though, by taking the walls of the planter down an extra half an inch to minimize the plastic lip but still be suitable for floor protection.
I even tried spraypainting one of the trays with the same specific-for-plastics paint that I used on the office chair because the shiny transparent plastic in person has a hint of that “just bought and forgot to take the price tag off it” feel. White seemed to correct that look without being too stand-out-ish.
It worked (of course it would, this isn’t anything revolutionary) so the gigantic plant is happily living inside once again, protected from the encroaching fall elements but still getting lots of natural sunlight through the living room windows. Although I’m kind of starting to think maybe I should match the tray to be the same color as the cement… oh the things you wish you had done differently once you see your photos…
And just for kicks, my dad would love to point out that the plants that would do best in these cement planters are species that are categorized as “foundation plants”… as in, plants that you’d be directed to use in the landscaping closest to your homes exterior foundation.
If you’ve made cement planters and found a great way to make custom-sized trays to match, I’d love to know more.