14 Unique Planters for Succulents You Can Make from Thrift Store Finds

Vintage typewriter used as succulent planter
Photo: Jason Donnelly

Succulents are unique and eye-catching plants that deserve a vessel that matches their interesting charm. Transform flea market or antique shop finds like thermoses, light fixtures, and broken typewriters into upcycled garden ideas to house succulents.

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Metal Tin Succulent Container Garden

Red vintage container succulents
Ryann Ford

Eric Pedley, owner of East Austin Succulents in Austin, Texas, loves turning castoff items into one-of-a-kind showcases for his favorite plants. Here, a vintage Canadian Mountie cookie tin contains a sweet assortment of succulents, including string-of-pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), 'Neon' stonecrop (Sedum spectabile), string-of-buttons (Crassula perforata), and beautiful Graptopetalum superbum. Tucked in back, the tin lid adds color and kitschy style.

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Teacup Succulent Garden

white teacup planter with succulents inside
Ed Gohlic

For a one-of-a-kind gift that's as pretty as a bouquet (but less expected), pot up succulents in a sweet little vessel. Use a white cup for a modern look or an ornate one for a vintage feel. Use 2-inch succulents (or newly propagated plants) for this project such as Hylotelephium pluricaule, echeveria, Jovibarba, or string-of-pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). The plants are shallow-rooted so they will live happily in a teacup.

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Beer Can Cactus Planter

Shiner Bock can used as cactus planter
Ryann Ford

Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) sprouting from an empty beer can shows that anything can become a potential planter. Pick up interesting cans of all sorts for pennies at flea markets, thrift shops, and junk stores and use tin scissors to carefully cut away the can top to make it plant-ready, sanding the edges of the metal with a sanding block to remove any sharp slivers.

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Metal Cart Succulent Garden

Metal card used as a cactus planter
Ryann Ford

Filled to the brim with bristly and sculptural plants, a rusty metal cart contains golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), Texas sotol (Dasylirion texanum), prickly pear, agave, and ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). Old carts and wheelbarrows can be unique upcycled planters for outdoor succulent displays, creating levels of interest in your garden.

05 of 14

Metal Desk Caddy Planter

Desk caddy used as planter
Ryann Ford

The cubbies and drawers of old metal filing bins hold succulents instead of office supplies. Moss and wood add texture to the Zen-style arrangement in this upcycled planter.

06 of 14

Vintage Coffee Urn Planter

Coffee container used as planter
Ryann Ford

The 1970s design definitely says flower power, but today this vintage coffee urn serves up red-tip fleshy-leaf paddle plant (Kalanchoe 'Fantastic'), Rhipsalis sp., rainbow bush (Portulacaria afra 'Variegata'), 'Quadricolor' agave, and Graptoveria'Fred Ives'.

07 of 14

Ammunition Box Succulent Container

Ammunition box used as planter
Ryann Ford

An ammunition box displays a miniature landscape planted with Echeveria 'Black Prince', Madagascar senecio (Senecio decaryi), and jade plant (Crassula ovata), and accented with a sparkling stone.

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Meat Grinder Planter

Meat grinder used as succulent planter
Ryann Ford

This proves that even the most unexpected items can become succulent gardens! Echeveria subsessilis, its dusty blue leaves rimmed with pink, sprouts whimsically from a vintage hand-crank meat grinder clamped to a table.

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Vintage Radio Garden

Vintage radio used as planter
Jason Donnelly

Once a countertop essential, a turn-dial radio makes a groovy home for a succulent garden. Using a tiny screwdriver, remove the radio's back panel. With the help of wire cutters, pull out as much of the inner workings of the radio as possible. To make room for a planting vessel—a loaf pan works well—cut a rectangle opening out of the plastic top of the radio using a stencil cutter. Slip the container inside, replace the back panel, and plant.

10 of 14

Typewriter Garden

Vintage typewriter used as succulent planter
Jason Donnelly

Celebrate a portable typewriter's years of service by bringing it to life with succulents. Using pliers, wire cutters, and a small screwdriver, remove all the typewriter's interior mechanisms for this upcycling idea. After the cavity is clean, nestle a small planting container—such as a disposable food storage bin—inside the typewriter. Fill the bin with cactus potting mix, and plant with a variety of succulents boasting unique textures, shapes, and colors.

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Thermos Succulent Garden

Thermos used as succulent planter
Jason Donnelly

Cylindrical and sleek, retro thermoses with metallic sheens offer a fun contrast to the various fleshy, spiky, and curvy leaves of succulents. Fill each thermos and its lid with cactus potting mix. Add plants, firming the potting mix around the root zones. Water plants when the soil is dry to the touch.

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Light Fixture Succulent Planter

Light fixture used as planter
Jason Donnelly

Turn the cone-shape metal shades of a desk lamp into a wall planter. Start by removing the lightbulbs from the shades and disconnecting all wiring. Fill any holes in the bases of the shades with silicone caulk to prepare them for planting. Drill two holes in the lamp's base plate and insert screws to attach the lamp to the wall, keeping the shades in an upright position. Fill the shades with potting mix and add succulents.

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Upcycled Sign Letter Planter

Letter A used as planter

Turn a salvaged metal sign letter into a gorgeous, green monogram for your front porch by filling with succulents and mosses. You can pick up letters of all shapes, sizes, and colors at antique stores, salvage stores, and online. To take this project to the next level, spell out a full word for a stunning piece of living art.

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Vintage Plastic Toy Garden Accents

Plastic toys placed in planters
Ryann Ford

A tiny menagerie of plastic animals traipses through a trio of potted succulent cuttings: Graptopetalum superbum, coppertone stonecrop (Sedum nussbaumerianum), and blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae). Colorful gravel adds a fun accent.

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