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How to Stake Tall Flowers In Your Garden For a Natural Look

How to Stake Tall Flowers In Your Garden For a Natural Look

Have beautiful perennial plants or tall flowers that are flopping or falling over in your garden? Forget about those metal hoops and cages that ruin the look of your garden beds.

Instead, use slim soft ties to hold up your flowers quickly and easily, They look so natural that no one will even know that your flowers are getting a little extra help with staking.

Haxnicks Slim Soft-Ties – Buy on Amazon

How to tie up flowers with soft ties

This method works great if you have a large grouping of tall plants like lilies, irises or coneflowers that are all beginning to tip over.

  1. Use scissors or shears to cut a piece of your soft tie wire off of the roll.
  2. If possible, find an “anchor” of upright flowers near the ones that need staking. Wrap the soft tie around this small bunch/grouping of flowers that are standing upright. Twist the soft tie like a bread twisty-tie to secure the bundle.
    1. This works best for perennial groupings rather than singular delicate flowers. In the video below I am staking a large mass of blackberry lilies. While this step is ideal, if you don’t have any upright flowers nearby, skip to the next step.
  3. Grab a small bunch of flowers that are falling down. Wrap a soft tie around this group. Now you should have two bunches of foliage that are grouped together.
    1. If you didn’t have any upright groups to tie from the previous step, just wrap another small bundle that needs staking so you have two bunches.
  4. Use a small piece of soft tie to connect the two bunches together. Loop the small piece of wire around the wires holding your bunches together (see video below for more detail),
  5. Continue bunching together small groups.
  6. Use smaller pieces of soft-tie to weave all of the bunches together until you can get the entire grouping to stand upright.
  7. If your bunches are still falling over, insert a metal or wooden stake through the center of the bunches to keep your plant(s) upright. Make sure that you loop the stake through some of the soft ties. This will ensure that the bundles stay upright.
  8. Watch the video below because it’s way easier for me to show you this than explain it 🙂

Soft ties are the solution to tie up delicate flowers

These little ties are the solution to keeping the stems of your plants and flowers from breaking! They’re great for tying trees, supporting climbing roses and heavy branches and for training fruit.

The inner core of the Soft-Tie is sturdy but flexible galvanized steel wire, making it incredibly strong. With a coating made of UV-stabilized rubber, the tie can be easily cut with a pair of scissors and secured with a quick twist.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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The light green color of these soft ties is what I love the most. It keeps your garden looking beautiful because the ties blend seamlessly into the foliage of the flowers or plants you’re tying up.  

These soft ties last a long time and they’re easy to cut and bend. The best part is that they’re reusable. Similar to twist ties, these retain their shape and can be used over and over again.

So versatile & easy, after you try these slim soft ties, you’ll wonder how you lived without them! The bendable design makes these a must-have for any home gardener looking for a way to stake beautiful flowers without hoops and cages.

More Gardening Posts You’ll Love

How to Arrange Plants in Containers – 7 Design Tips

How to Arrange Plants in Containers – 7 Design Tips

It’s fun to go to the garden center looking for gorgeous plants for your planters and containers. But, that fun can really quickly turn to overwhelm and dread when you start to see how many plants and flowers there are to choose from.

In a moment of panic, you turn around and spot that pre-made container near the checkout for $75. And, it feels like someone threw a lifeline to you as you breathe a sigh of relieft.

Believe me, I know how incredibly tempting it is to buy that premade arrangement and move on with your life.

But, did you know that once you learn some simple tricks to arranging plants in containers, you’ll save SO much money? Not only that, your containers will be unique and creative, too.

So, if you’ve been struggling with arranging plants, I’ve put together this post — and a video — to show you:

  • how I choose plants for my containers
  • how I combine different plants together
  • how I arrange the plants in my containers
Fall Planters – Container Design using Ornamental Peppers

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Tips to make the perfect container arrangement

You can watch the video above to get all of my tips and a bit more of a “visual” look at why I’m choosing each plant. Or, below you can read each tip and laugh at me trying to explain what I’m talking about in the video 🙂

1 Choose an “inspiration” plant

My first tip is to make a loop around the garden center and find a plant that inspires you. Maybe it’s something you’ve never seen before? Maybe it’s a color you love? Maybe it’s a plant you’re familiar with, but have never seen it in THAT color before? Maybe it’s a vegetable, like cabbage, kale of peppers? Or even an ornamental grass?

Whatever it is, find that plant that you just MUST have. The one that speaks to you. This will be the starting/jumping off point for arranging your container.

Dark purple pepper plant with purple blooms

For me, the jumping off point was the moment that I saw this beautiful and unusual plant at the garden center. It’s a dark purple, almost black, ornamental pepper called Black Pearl (Capsicum annuum black pearl).

Those round, shiny nubs are actually hot peppers and it blooms with purple flowers. And I had to have it.

2 Tie your container in with your existing landscape

Ok, so black pearl pepper is in my cart and I have already decided that I must need it. At this point, I HAVE to give myself a good old gut check. I call this the “gut check” test.

So, I ask myself how this plant actually ties into my existing landscape. And, I know that it may be a strange question because this is a container arrangement… right? But, the fact remains that your landscape does not go away just because you decided to change out your container. So, there has to be some connection between your planter and your landscape.

For me… there is because I use a lot of purple blooms in my landscape. So, even though the foliage of this pepper plant is WAY darker than anything in my landscape, it still has the purple blooms that tie in with my purple asters at catmint this time of year.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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3 Find plants to compliment your inspiration plant

So, we have our inspirational plant. Around this time, I’m staring at it in my cart and grinning like an idiot as I bump into displays around the nursery… because I am in love with it and I’ve passed my “gut check” test.

So, the next thing on my agenda is to find plants to go with this particular plant. And, in most cases I think about color. So I’m usually looking for something else that’s purple like the pepper… or something orange or yellow that contrasts with the purple.

Quick Tip: Learning just a little bit about the color wheel and creating color schemes will up your gardening game.

For me, it was another pepper plant. And yes, apparently I’m obsessed with peppers this year. But, this plant had so much going for it and I thought it was the perfect companion to my black pearl pepper. It’s called Mambo ornamental pepper bush (Capsicum annuum Mambo).

Ornamental Pepper Bush - Orange and Purple Peppers

Mambo ties in beautifully with Black Pearl because it has similarities, but it also has differences.

It has shiny peppers on it, but the peppers are a different shape and some are the same (purple) but some are different (orange)

Also, the foliage of this pepper bush is the same shape and has the same shine as Black Pearl. The leaves are dark, but not quite as dark as Black Pearl.

4 Use contrast in color and texture to make an interesting arrangement

So at this stage we have Black Pearl Ornamental Pepper paired with Mambo Ornamental Pepper bush. And, Mambo gives a bit of contrast but not enough to really amp up my container. So my next mission is to find something that will really contrast with my inspiration plant.

So, I took cues from the orange peppers in Mambo and set out to find another orange blooming plant. But not another pepper. I need something with a different texture than the shiny bulbs I already have. And that’s when I stumbled upon Celosia ‘Twisted Orange’ Cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Twisted Orange’).

Closeup of fuzzy twisted blooms of the Twisted Orange Cockscomb plant

How unique and exciting are these blooms? This is just what I was looking for as far as contrast.

The blooms are a fuzzy, twisty orange mass which is much, much different than the shiny bulbs of the peppers I had.

It also has lighter green foliage that are a bit bigger than the leaves of the peppers (although they are basically the same shape).

5 Choose plants of different heights

When I get to this point, I’m usually thinking about what I’m missing from my container. In most cases, it’s variation in height, but it certainly could be other things.

You want to make sure you include something tall, something bushy and something low to cover the dirt (or even “spill over” the container). So, in my arrangement, I have my Mambo peppers that will grow low and possibly spill over the edge of the planter. My celosia and Black Pearl pepper will fill in the middle height. But I am really missing that “thriller” part.

And, by the way, I really don’t like using the word thriller… you know how they say thriller, spiller, filler. It’s all well and fine to use this to remember to vary the heights of your plants, but I find that in a majority of my planters that the thriller isn’t really all that thrilling. It’s usually just a tall grass or something to give the planter height. In this case I feel like I’ve already found my thriller in the Black Pearl Pepper. So… anything after that is just… not so thrilling.

So, to summarize this, varying plant heights in a container IS super important. But the tallest plant doesn’t need to be the most “thrilling” part of your container. Make sense?

Chartreuse green millet plant with strappy leaves

I chose Jade Princess Millet (Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’) for my tallest plant in my container.

Millet doesn’t bloom… but it solves several problems with my container; height, leaf shape and brightness.

6 Review your plant choices to see if anything is missing

So, what are these problems exactly? Well, take a look at your plant choices as a group and you may start to realize that something is “off” or “wrong”. In many cases, it has to do with the heights of the plants like I said above.

But in some other cases it will be something not as easy to pinpoint. But, here are some common issues that you may have and what you can do to fix them.

container with dark purple and bright orange peppers in front of a house
Ornamental Peppers Fall Container by Amy Fedele, Pretty Purple Door

Do you have plants that are different heights?

Think… tall, bushy, low. Make sure that there’s a variation of heights for your plants and that you really can’t see the soil. Or, once the plants grow in you won’t be able to see the soil. Adding some different height plants adds a lot of interest to your container.

If you don’t want this “style” of container, that’s ok too. There are lots of different things you can do. So, just move to the next point.

Is there enough contrast?

You want to make sure that your arrangement is cohesive. But it should also have enough contrast to create some interest. So think about color contrast… but also contrast in shapes and textures too.

In my planter, part of the problem was with contrast in the leaf shape. This was resolved by the strappy foliage of the millet. The majority of a plant is foliage so I tend NOT to rely on the color of the blooms to carry my designs.

If all the color was removed, are the plants able to stand out from each other? Or, does everything just blend together? If it blends, you may need to find a tiny leafed plant, a large leafed plant, or just something different to add to your container arrangement.

What feeling does it evoke?

What’s the first word that comes to mind for you? When I looked at my arrangement I thought of “spooky.” Which… is kind of ok… since it’s almost Halloween. BUT, it wasn’t completely ok with me.

I don’t my planters to feel too dark and scary. So, I needed to choose something to brighten it up. Which is where my choice for the Jade Princess Millet came in.

So, think about the first word that comes to mind (dull, boring, girly, cheerful, dark). Is it a positive word or a negative one? How can you change the feeling?

Does it remind you of anything?

I associate color with a lot of different things… so often when I look at an arrangement I immediately think of common items or even popular brands that use those colors. This can be good or bad so let’s go over a few examples.

I really can’t stand the combination of red and yellow flowers together. I immediately see ketchup and mustard and think of McDonalds. Nothing wrong with McDonalds… I just don’t like the food enough to create a plant arrangement in Ronald’s honor.

But, I really do love ice cream. One time I made a planter arrangement with lots of different pastel colors and the first thing I thought of when I looked at it was rainbow sherbet. So, that was a wonderful association… except for my diet!

So… if your arrangement is sparking some weird associations, that’s totally normal. If it’s a positive association (like rainbow sherbet ice cream), go for it. If it’s something you don’t particularly like (Ronald)… maybe you need to adjust it.

7 Divide plants to fill multiple containers for less money

Did you know that just because you purchase one plant in a pot… it doesn’t mean that it’s only one plant? My mind was blown when I first realized this. And now I will never go back to purchasing premade arrangements.

Take a look inside of the plant that you’re about to buy. Do you see multiple stems coming out of the soil? If so, it’s likely that the plant can be divided into at least two different plants.

Actually, the ornamental pepper bush in the video above was actually 5 separate plants. So, I purchased one pot for $7.99 and was able to divide that into 5 different plants for my containers! Not a bad deal, right?

If you want to learn more about how to split plants in containers, just watch this video and I’ll show you how to do it.

Quick Tip: If you’re looking for more gorgeous fall container ideas, head over to this post, 10 Fall Flower Containers with a Unique Twist 

BONUS- Use a self-watering planter

If you’re getting into container gardening, self-watering planters are a great option. Not only do they save you time having to water each day, but overall will lead to healthier and happier plants that are consistently getting the moisture they need to survive.

You can purchase these planters at nurseries and home improvement stores. But, you can also fairly easily turn a container you love into a self-watering planter.

What did I plant?

four plant choices for container separated into blocks
Black pearl ornamental pepper, Mambo ornamental pepper bush, Celosia twisted Orange, Jade princess Millet

From left to right, here are my fall container arrangement plant choices:

  1. Black pearl ornamental pepper Capsicum annuum black pearl
  2. Mambo ornamental pepper bush Capsicum annuum Mambo
  3. Celosia twisted Orange Cockscomb Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Twisted Orange’
  4. Jade princess Millet Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’

Wrapping Up

When creating your own container arrangement, start with one plant as inspiration and go form there. Then, find a plant to compliment your inspiration plant. Then, another plant that contrasts it in either color, leaf shape, texture or size…. or all of the above. Next, you want to make sure you include something tall, something bushy and something low to cover the dirt (or even “spill over” the container). Lastly, have fun and enjoy the process of choosing your plants and arranging them in your containers. If you liked this post about container arrangements, you’ll definitely want to check out my top tips for arranging plants in your landscape.

More Gardening Posts You’ll Love

Closeups of orange, purple and green plants; How to arrange plants in containers
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DIY Sunflower Skulls – Super Simple Tutorial & Video

DIY Sunflower Skulls – Super Simple Tutorial & Video

DIY Sunflower skulls are a really fun project that you can create to add some Halloween spookiness to your front porch decor. What I love about this simple DIY project is that it can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. You can finish it in half an hour or spend days painting away and adding lots of cool details to your sunflower skulls.

I also love that you can do this on a very large scale or a very small scale. In the video below, I created very large sunflower skulls for the front porch and also did a mini bouquet of skull flowers to display in the kitchen. The possibilities are endless.

The original idea for this Halloween DIY project came from the artist Beejay Oslon. You can check out his AMAZING version on Instagram @beejay.oslon_art. Thank you Beejay for sharing your art with the world.

Materials You Need

Click on the affiliate links in parenthesis to purchase online.

  • 3 Ashland Oversized Sunflower Stem (Michaels)
  • 3 Large Skull Heads (Family Dollar) or 6.5×4.25×4.6″ super-realistic skull head (Amazon)
  • 1 Sunflower Bouquet with 7 flowers (Amazon)
  • 2″ Skull Heads (pack of 12) (Amazon)
  • 3″ Skull Heads (pack of 6) (Amazon)
  • Brown Raffia (Amazon) or Excelsior (Michaels)
  • Hot Glue Gun (Amazon)
  • Micro cutter (Amazon) or something to cut the skulls in half

The cost for creating the 3 large sunflower skulls was around $80.
The small sunflower skull bouquet cost around $30.

Watch the Video

Step by Step Instructions

1- Gather your materials

Sunflowers, skulls, raffia and other materials gathered together

Just gather all of the materials from above so that you’re ready to go. You may want to plug in your hot glue gun so that it’s ready!

2- Remove the backs of the skulls

holding razorblade against plastic skull to remove the back

In order to secure the skulls to your sunflower heads, you’ll need to remove the backs of the heads. You can use just about anything you have to remove the backs of the skulls. It will really depend on the material that your skulls are made of. Mine were a soft plastic material so I was able to use a razor blade and even scissors for the smaller ones. A tool called a micro cutter is also handy for cutting plastic.

3- Paint the skulls (optional)

closeup of an instagram image of painted skulls on sunflower faces
Image from @beejay.olson_art on Instagram

You could definitely paint your skull heads to make them look really unique and realistic. I was pretty happy with the variety of skulls I purchased so I skipped this step.

The original artist of this project definitely painted his skulls and they look AMAZING. So, get creative here!

4- Glue the skulls onto the sunflowers

Hot glue gun gluing a bead of glue onto the back of a plastic skull with sunflowers behind

Use your hot glue gun to attach your skulls to the faces of the sunflowers. Make sure that you have you position the skulls correctly based on the way you’ll be displaying your sunflowers. You don’t want to have any upside down skulls! Or… maybe you do!

My larger skulls were super pliable, soft plastic so I was able to squeeze the skull heads and get them to fit perfectly onto the faces of the sunflowers. Honestly, I probably didn’t even NEED to glue them on. For these, I just ran a bead of hot glue around the face of the sunflower because I knew exactly where they would be positioned.

The plastic of the smaller skulls, however, was less pliable. So, for those I had to just position them on the sunflower faces and then use other materials to “nestle” them into the flower face. I ran the hot glue directly onto the halved skull for these so that all of the edges were secured.

Hold the skull heads in place until the hot glue dries.

5- Add finishing touches

gluing raffia around the edges of the skull head that's on the sunflower face.

After I glued the skulls onto the sunflowers, I added some chestnut colored excelsior around the edges of the skull to make it feel like it was nestled into the flower head rather than floating on top. Raffia or even twine are other materials you can use.

You can also get creative and use different materials. For the smaller bouquet, I thought that creepy little eye balls in the center of the sunflower heads would also look neat. I also saw some plastic baby doll heads at the store when I was picking up the smaller skull heads and I think those would look great too.

So, be creative and explore a range of different materials and possibilities! Most of all, have fun!

Follow my Halloween DIY Pinterest Board

Looking for more great ideas? Follow my DIY Halloween project Pinterest board for tasteful, classy, and super over-the-top spooky projects you can make for Halloween!

Wrapping up

This was a super easy and fun DIY project that anyone can do. I must say that for the effort this took, it was a really impressive result. I get lots and lots of comments on my spooky sunflower skulls!

If you liked this DIY project, you will also love my roundup of Halloween DIY Projects that showcases many more easy (and unique) Halloween DIY projects.

More DIY Projects You’ll Love

Closeup of plastic skulls glued onto sunflowers with text
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4 Tips for a Peaceful Garden Sanctuary at Home

4 Tips for a Peaceful Garden Sanctuary at Home

I’m guessing that you want beautiful garden that’s ALSO harmonious and peaceful. Not a garden that’s chaotic, out of control and high maintenance.

Well, you are certainly no alone. Having a beautifully landscaped outdoor space is one of the most coveted wish list items for hard-working home owners that need a place to escape to and relax.

To create a peaceful garden, use a refined plant color palette, add the sound of water, divide your space into cozy garden rooms and share it with wildlife like birds and butterflies.

You can watch the video below or keep reading along to learn how!

Use these colors to create harmony in the garden – calm, relaxing gardens

1. Use analogous colors

I’m sure you’re sooooo surprised that my first tip for a peaceful garden is to use color to create a mood in your garden (joke of the year). I love using skills I learned as a graphic designer to improve my garden.

Color wheel for garden color schemes

So, my favorite tip here is to choose colors that are very close to each other on the color wheel, also called analogous colors. Colors that are right next to each other create harmony, while colors opposite one another create more energy and excitement (more on this next week)!

A great peaceful color scheme that you can try at home is blue, violet and purple.

Quick Tip: If you really love this tip, head over to my post, How to create gorgeous garden color schemes. There are lots more examples and tips over there!

2. Add water

DIY Pondless Water Feature
My DIY pondless water feature is a great project that you can do in a few hours.

Adding a water feature to your garden is a fun and super easy way to create more peace and tranquility. The sound of water is always very relaxing. In addition to that, it’s really good for drowning out background noise.

So, if you live on a busy street or have a lot of neighborhood kids that are always yelling and carrying on (like me), the water sound can drown a lot of that noise and chaos out for you.

Both images below are water features from the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2020

Pink and blue plants and reflection pond - fish sculptures
Water feature - calm and peaceful with guitar

And, if you haven’t seen my pondless water feature, you should definitely check that out. It’s a really easy and fun project that you can make in just a few hours!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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3. Create garden rooms

Garden rooms is sort of a buzzword in the landscaping industry. But… what does it actually mean? If you’ve never created a garden room before, the easiest way I can explain how to do it is… try creating a designated place to sit and relax. 

Garden room - rustic dining area
Image from the Philadelphia Flower Show 2020

This can be an area for a big, long table with mixed and matched chairs and an old sheet for a tablecloth… or a simple, small area with a rocking chair and a little end table next to it for your morning coffee or tea.

The trick here is to create a space and then decorate the space. Just like you add decor to your living room, you can add (outdoor) decor to your garden room.

Garden room with single wall and doorway to enter
This garden room design has a single wall installation with french doors that lead to the space and create a sense of peace and intimacy. Photo from the Philadelphia Garden Show, 2020

Creating a “place” in the garden where you can retreat to is a wonderful way to create peace and harmony in your landscape. And, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.

4- Invite Wildlife

Bringing in wildlife like birds, butterflies, fish and frogs is a great way to create a peaceful and harmonious garden that not only benefits you, but mother nature, too! Some ideas to attract wildlife to your garden are to choose plants that are native to your area, add bird feeders or even homes for birds, bugs. frogs and toads. All animals need water to survive, so bird baths or a shallow water dish will also attract little friends.

I find that having a backyard active with all kinds of creatures and critters is so fun and relaxing. It really keeps you in touch with nature.

There are lots of pictures and examples for creating a peaceful garden sanctuary in my video. So, I’d definitely recommend taking a quick watch. It’s not even 10 minutes long and will give you lots of ideas for your garden!

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Super Easy DIY Self-Watering Planter

Super Easy DIY Self-Watering Planter

It seems like every description I’ve read or video I’ve watched to make a self-watering planter at home is super complicated and makes you feel like you need an engineering degree to get it done. But I’m here to tell you that making your own self-watering planter is really not that hard.

In this post I’ll show you exactly how to do this step by step so you can have beautiful, thriving container gardens all summer long — even if you’re not the greatest at remembering to water your plants.

I’m really excited to share this with you since self-watering planters have saved me from killing my plants more times than I’d like to admit. So, let’s get to it!

Materials for Self-Watering Planter

These are the materials you’ll need

  • Planter/Container that you want to make self-watering — scroll down for several great options I’ve chosen
  • 1-1/2″ PVC Pipe (Buy on Amazon) – height depends on planter height
  • 1 Divider/False Bottom per planter (2 options)
    • Hardware Cloth (the one I’m using is 23-gauge galvanized 36″ wide with 1/4″ openings)
    • Rubber feed bowl (the one I’m using is the Fortex 2 gallon – 14″ diameter – size)
  • 1 Garbage Bag
  • 2 solo cups with holes poked throughout
  • Potting soil
  • Plants/Flowers

Tools you need for this project

  • Drill – to cut a tiny overflow hole into your planter (Buy a Dewalt drill here)
  • Hacksaw (Buy) or pipe cutter (Buy)
  • Tin Snips (buy on Amazon) – if you use hardware cloth, you need these to cut a hole into the metal hardware cloth
  • 3-1/2″ hole saw bit (buy it on Amazon) – If you use the rubber feed bowl, you will need a hole saw and drill to cut a hole into the rubber for your cup. You can also cut the hole with a jigsaw or whatever else you have that will get through it.
  • Shovel
  • Hose

Watch this video to get all of the details and how-to instruction to make any planter self-watering.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more gardening videos!

Just to make this REALLY simple, I also drew a diagram for you so you can understand exactly how it works.

Self-Watering Planter Diagram - How it works
This diagram explains all the parts of the self-watering planter and how it works.

How to create your own self-watering planter

This is what we’ll be doing to create a self watering planter, in simple terms.

  • Find a deep container that doesn’t have ANY drainage holes in it.
  • Make a wicking chamber to move the water upwards.
  • Create a “false bottom” in the planter to separate the water from the soil.

Quick Tip: This is a really easy way to create a self-watering planter. But, the big reservoir may get too heavy for hanging baskets. Check out this tutorial if you want a really easy way to water your hanging baskets, too.

1- Find the right planting container

In order to do this easily you’ll need a container for your plants. There are only 2 criteria for the container; that it’s deep enough to have a reservoir in the bottom and soil on top and that it doesn’t have any drainage holes in it. Since we are storing the water in the bottom of the container, drainage holes are a no go.

Additionally, if you’re going out to purchase a new container for this project, you may want to consider buying a planter that is tapered. This means that it’s wider on the top than it is in on the bottom. With a tapered container, you’ll be able to create your false bottom for the self watering planter using a simple rubber feed bowl rather than making a stand and a screen.

Both ways are pretty simple to do, though. So don’t stress about this and use a container you already have on hand if possible.

Planter Options

Here are some options I’ve found online for tapered planters that should work for this project. If you click the links below it will take you the link to purchase online.

Tapered Planter Options
  1. Red Shed 16″ Plastic Faux Metal Planter (Buy at Tractor Supply) – This is the one I’m using.
  2. Crescent Garden 20″ Madison Planter in Citron Green (Buy on Google Shopping)
  3. Crescent Garden 20″ Madison Planter in Midnight Blue (Buy on Google Shopping)
    Also comes in brown, bark, golden bronze, gray, olive, terracotta and white.
  4. Suncast 16″ Farmhouse Planter in Brown (Buy on Google Shopping)
  5. Suncast 18″ Farmhouse Planter in White (Buy on Google Shopping)
  6. Suncast 16″ Farmhouse Planter in Gray (Buy on Google Shopping)
  7. Artstone 14″ Ella Square Planter in Terracota (Buy on Amazon)
  8. Artstone 18″ Ella Square Planter in Black (Buy on Amazon)
  9. Veradek – 16″ Wide Square Planter, Set of 2 (Buy on Amazon)
  10. Happy Planter 16.7″ Tapered in Pigeon Gray (Buy on Amazon)
  11. Suncast 16″ Resin Planter in Red/Plum (Buy on Google Shopping)
  12. Suncast 16″ Resin Planter in Blue/Brown (Buy on Google Shopping)
    Also comes in Brown/Gray and Green/Blue.

2- Make a wicking chamber

I know that wicking chamber is a really fancy term. But all this means is something that will move the water from the bottom of the planter upwards into the soil. This is basically what will water your plants. We’ll be watering them from below!

In this case we’ll be using 2 solo cups with holes punched into them for a wicking chamber. Double up your solo cups for some extra strength, then poke holes all over the cups. I probably have 50 holes in mine… all over the sides and even in the bottom.

Poke lots of holes in the solo cups for water
Punch lots of holes in the solo cups

Next, fill the cup with soil. You really need to pack this soil in there. My suggestion is to dampen the soil first, then start adding it to your cup little by little while topping off with some water. Keep on pushing and pushing the soil down so it’s packed in really, really well.

Pack Wicking Chamber cup with soil
Make sure you really pack the soil in. Mount up the top like a snow cone.

Lastly, you’ll want to mount the soil up a bit at the top of your cup (kind of like a snow cone looks).

3- Create a “False Bottom” inside of the planter

Now, we need to make a separation from where we put the water and where we put the soil. I call this a “false bottom.” Underneath the “false bottom” will be a reservoir that holds the water. And above the “false bottom” will be the soil that you’ll put your plants into. In between the two will be your wicking chamber.

So, the biggest thing we need to do is make a structure or stand to hold a separate bottom.

False bottom for tapered planters

If you have a tapered container, all you will need to do this is a round rubber feed dish that is wider than the bottom of your container but not as wide as the top of your container. In my setup, my planter is 16″ wide at the top and 12″ wide at the bottom.

I found this 2 gallon rubber pan/feed dish by Fortex at Tractor Supply. It was perfect for my setup. The diameter of the dish is 14″, so it sits right in the middle of my tapered planter. Remember that the diameter is much more important than the amount of gallons or quarts the dish holds. So, be sure to check the diameter, or width of the dish and pick one that will fit inside your tapered planter. There are many different sizes to choose from. You can buy different sized feed dishes online or in a farm store near you.

Next, you’ll need to drill a hole through the center of the feed bowl. The hole needs to be big enough to fit your wicking chamber cup into, but not too big that it will fall through. So, kind of a snug fit, although it doesn’t need to be air tight. I used a 3-1/2″ hole saw for this. I really like the one from Dewalt (buy it on Amazon).

Insert rubber feed bowl into tapered container
Here’s the feed trough being inserted into the tapered container. You can see the hole in the center for the wicking chamber.

Push your feed dish into your tapered planter. Drop your soil-filled solo cup into the center. The solo cup should be touching the bottom of the planter, if possible.

False bottom for all other planters

If you have any other shaped container, the easiest way to make the false bottom is to use hardware cloth. This is just a mesh-like material that’s made from wire. You can bend it but it’s still a little bit stiff so if can hold its shape.

First, measure the height of your solo cup. Then, measure that far up from the bottom of your planter. Mark down this height measurement as well as the length and width of the planter at this height (if your planter is the same size throughout just measure the length and width. You’ll need these measurements for a few things.

You will need to create a “stand” of some kind to hold your hardware cloth up to create a false bottom. You can use PVC pipe and some connectors to make a little base. You can also Just use the same PVC pipe you’ve purchased for the water pipe and just make 4 “legs” for the hardware cloth to stand on. Any material that is water resistant and will hold up your hardware cloth is fine.

Cut your hardware cloth to the dimensions of the planter using your tin snips.

Next you’ll need to cut a hole into the hardware cloth for your wicking chamber. Just trace out the top of the solo cup and make some snips. Make sure it’s not too big that the cup falls through. You can also tape off the edges of the cuts you made. Be careful — they can be sharp!

Last, you’ll need to cut a hole in the hardware cloth to feed your PVC pipe through. The one I used is 1-1/2″ so that’s the size of the hole I made.

DIY Self Watering Planter False Bottom stand
Here’s an example of a false-bottom stand I made for my self-watering planter. I just used PVC pipe and fittings and made sure the stand was the same height as the solo cup.

Place your hardware cloth onto the stand you’ve made and then place the wicking chamber into the hole. Ensure everything fits!

4- Prepare your “Watering” Pipe

Now lets take a look at the PVC pipe. This is going to go from the very top of the container all the way to the bottom. It needs to be big enough so that you can pour water down the pipe to fill your reservoir. I used a 1-1/2″ pipe.

First, measure the height of your planter. You will want to cut your pipe so that it’s at least as tall so your planter. It can be a little bit taller if you’d like, too. I used a hacksaw to cut my pipe.

Next, you’ll need to cut out a wedge or piece out of the bottom of the pipe. This is for the bottom of the pipe, so that when the water is poured into the pipe it has a way to escape. So, just cut a wedge or a notch in there. This doesn’t have to look pretty. You won’t see it at all.

If you’re using the feed bowl “false bottom” just slide the pipe down the planter in a corner. Since the feed bowl is round and flexible it should easily accommodate your pipe. If you’re using the hardware cloth, just place the pipe into the hole you cut for it.

False bottom assembly with hardware cloth and PVC pipe stand.
This is what the setup looks like with the watering pipe inserted through the hardware cloth.

Make sure that the side of the pipe with the wedge in it is in the bottom of the container. Try pouring some water down the pipe and make sure it can escape through your wedge to fill the bottom of the planter.

5- Drill an Overflow Hole

The next step is to drill an overflow hole into the planter. This isn’t required but it is a helpful step. If your planter is really fragile or you are nervous about this, you can skip it.

The reason for this hole is so that as you’re filling your water reservoir up, you’ll need a way to know that the reservoir is full. So, by drilling a small hole at the very top of the water reservoir (just below the false bottom), you’ll be able to see the water pour out of the planter when it reaches this height.

My hole is very, very small. First, I put a piece of masking tape on the outside of my planter right where I wanted to drill the hole. This will stop any cracking or chipping on your planter (in most cases). Then just drill your hole. Easy!

6- Insert Garbage Bag into the Planter

This seems kind of strange, right? Well, we need to separate the water from the soil. And, unfortunately, hardware cloth will not do the trick. So, I’ve found the garbage bags work quite well. At the bottom of the garbage back, I cut a small X with scissors that’s about 3″ wide. Then, insert the bag into the planter.

Fish the wicking chamber through the hole that you just made. It will still sit in the same location it’s in. It will still be touching the bottom of the container. The key here is to make sure that the dirt mounded up on top of the solo cup actually touches the dirt that will be in your planter.

Wicking chamber soil comes through garbage bag
The garbage bag will keep the dirt separated from the water reservoir. Just make sure you poke a hole and let the top of the wicking chamber inside.

You’ll want to pull the bag all the way up and kind of wrap it around the planter. If you don’t want to use a garbage bag you can use landscape fabric or some other divider that will hold the soil in.

7- Fill Bag with Potting Soil

Now that we have this all set up, you’ll simply fill the inside of the garbage bag with potting soil.

You may want to trim off the excess of the garbage bag at this point so it’s hidden by your flowers and plants.

8- Fill the Water Reservoir

Now you can pour water into the PVC pipe to fill the water reservoir. Be sure to look for the water pouring out of the small drill hole you made. That’s how you’ll know the reservoir is full.

Pouring water into the reservoir of self-watering planter
Use the PVC tube to fill the bottom of the planter with water. Watch the overflow hole so you don’t overfill the water reservoir.

Leave the planter alone for an hour or two. When you come back, stick your hand into the soil and see if it feels moist. The further you reach down into the soil, the more wet it should be.

If your soil is not wet, you may need to troubleshoot. Go back through the steps to make sure that you did everything. Likely the problem is with the wicking chamber so you’ll want to check that first.

9- Plant Flowers

The last step is to plant your flowers in soil like normal.

Quick Tip: Head over to this article if want some tips for creating longer bloom times. Be sure to check the soil often in the beginning to make sure that everything is working and your flowers aren’t getting dried out.

How long this will water your plants will depend on the size of your self-watering planter as well as the conditions where you live. I would check it every few days to get an idea of how long you can go before you need to add more water.

DIY Self Watering Planter
Here’s one of my self-watering planters. You can see the PVC pipe in the right corner. As the plants fill in you really won’t be able to see it, though.

Wrapping Up

Now you know how to create a DIY self-watering planter using absolutely any container you’d like. This really simple method just separates the water reservoir from the soil using a “false bottom” in the container. Then create a way to wick the water up into the soil and a way to refill your water reservoir. If your chamber is larger, you may not have to water your containers for weeks.

This really does save you a lot of time. Not to mention, this self-watering planter will also save your plants if you’re anything like me and forget to keep them watered!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project? Are you going to try it yourself? Do you have a better way to do it! Let me know!


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