Turn Flea Market Finds into Plant Containers

Whether it's egg baskets, chipped kitchenware, or coal scuttles, vintage farmhouse materials can spill with plants. Most buckets, pails, tubs, or bins can be turned into containers for plants. Even a milk strainer is fair game. Find rusty treasures at flea markets or hidden away in a farm outbuilding, an attic, or a basement. A farm motif brings muted grays, whitewash, and faded paint into the picture, letting the plants take the lead for the color dialogue.

How to turn a cracked concrete birdbath into a 'tweet succulent planter.

Easy Birdbath Planter

Turn an old birdbath into a sweet succulent planter in a few simple steps.

Stepladder Plant Stand

Given thick, sturdy boards laid across its rungs, an old stepladder can become an instant plant stand. This one balances Portulacaria afra(elephant bush) emerging from a whimsical faux-shoe planter, echeverias, a container holding a maidenhair fern, and a ceramic hen bristling with Sedum rupestre 'Lemon Coral'.

Chicken Feeder with Hens

Hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum)nestles on either side of an Orostachys planted in a repurposed zinc grain feeder for chickens. Succulents will thrive in containers with a shallow base. If there are no drainage holes, place pebbles and charcoal on the bottom to keep the soil from going stagnant.


An antique 16-inch-wide colander filled with SenecioKalanchoeLampranthusPortulacaAeonium, and Crassula ensures the succulents don't get waterlogged. For open-slat containers, such as egg baskets and colanders, utilize a moss mat as a liner. Burlap sacking and window screen can also be used to hold the soil intact.

Edible Bath

Even if your veggie garden is confined to a container, you can make it a showstopper. Here, a vintage infant bathtub cradles dinosaur kale, basil, parsley, nasturtium, copper fennel, and 'Bull's Blood' beets.

Olive Bucket

A slatted metal olive bucket finds another career holding brightly colored 'Stained Glass Copper' coleus. A creative eye and sense of experimentation can turn most castoff items into vessels for plants.

Coal Scuttle

A black coal scuttle makes the flower colors pop with Dorotheanthus 'Mezoo', Arcada Begonia 'Light Pink', Fuchsia'Mary', and Aquilegia'Leprechaun Gold'. When looking for containers to host flowering plants, make sure they are at least 7 inches deep and have drainage holes. Drill a few holes if necessary.

Milk Box

Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' sprouts from a vintage metal milk box that once graced a front porch. A drill with a bit made for puncturing metal can make necessary drainage holes.

Leaky Can Solution

Extend a rusted watering can's life beyond its ability to hold water by popping in Salvia splendens Ablazin 'Tabasco'. Contrasting colors add pop to this simple combination.

Painter's Tray

Drilled with some screw holes for hanging, a vintage painting tray becomes a planter for succulents. Only tiny plant plugs will fill its narrow pocket.

Farmhouse Ready

On cottage steps, an enamel bucket becomes an aquatic garden with water hyacinths and Ruellia brittoniana 'Purple Showers' (Mexican petunia). Behind it, a milk bucket is planted with Salvia farinaceaSallyfun 'Blue' and a double petunia.

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