How to Make Plant Containers


Though anything from a shopping bag to an old shoe can be made into a novelty plant container, plants thrive best in homemade containers that are sturdy enough to protect the root ball. One of the best materials for making your own container is a concrete mix known as hypertufa, which simulates tufa stone, a porous stone that is popular in alpine gardens. While tufa containers are rare and expensive, hypertufa makes an almost identical facsimile. Hypertufa containers can be molded into almost any shape.

Step 1

Place the large box on a flat working surface and carefully line the interior with a plastic dry cleaning bag. Tape the bag to the lip of the box with duct tape. Turn the smaller box onto its open end and line the outside of the box with a plastic dry cleaning bag. Tape the bag to the lip of the box with duct tape.

Step 2

Combine 2 parts peat moss, 1 part vermiculite and 1 part Portland cement in a 5-gallon bucket. Mix well with a stirring rod. Add water and continue to stir until the mixture is the consistency of thick cake batter.

Step 3

Stand each of the four pieces of PVC pipe up on one end inside the larger box. Pour the cement mixture around them until the level of cement covers the pipe pieces halfway.

Step 4

Cut a piece of chicken wire to form a square that is 1 inch shorter in length and width than the bottom of the large box. Cut holes into the wire to correspond with the location of the PVC pipes. Slip the wire over the PVC pipes in the bottom of the box and press it into the hypertufa mixture.

Step 5

Pour hypertufa mixture over the chicken wire in the bottom of the box. Continue to pour until the mixture is level with the top of the PVC pipes.

Step 6

Place the second box onto the hypertufa surface and center it inside the first box.

Step 7

Cut chicken wire into strips to reinforce the sides of the container and fit them down inside the sides of the box.

Step 8

Pour the hypertufa mixture into the sides of the box. Press down on the mixture with the stirring rod to squeeze out air pockets. Pack the mix into the sides of the box around the chicken wire so that the wire is completely covered.

Step 9

Mist the box with a misting bottle filled with water and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the hypertufa to cure for one week in warm weather, or two weeks in temperatures below 50 degrees F. Unwrap and mist the container up to four times daily.

Step 10

Peel away the boxes gently to reveal your container. Rub the sides of the container with a wire brush to smooth away hard edges.

Step 11

Allow the container to cure for another 2 weeks. Then spray with a garden hose up to 4 times daily for 10 more days to wash the container free of limestone.

Step 12

Soak the container in a solution using 1/2 cup vinegar per 1 gallon water for a half-hour. Allow the container to dry before planting.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 large cardboard box
  • 1 medium cardboard box
  • Duct tape
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Peat moss
  • Portland cement
  • Vermiculite
  • Plastic 5-gallon bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Plastic stirring rod
  • Wire cutters
  • Chicken wire
  • 4 lengths of 3/4-inch PVC pipe cut 1 1/2 inches long
  • Misting bottle
  • Wire brush
  • Vinegar


  • Washington State University Extension: Hypertufa Pots and Troughs
  • Oregon State University Extension: How to Make Hypertufa for Garden Containers and Accents
  • Washington State University Extension: Hypertufa

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University Extension: Make landscape containers that look like stone with hypertufa
Keywords: homemade containers, hypertufa stone, concrete planters

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."