Growing Plants In Shoes – How To Make A Shoe Garden Planter
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Popular websites are rife with clever ideas and colorful pictures that make gardeners green with envy. If these ideas have piqued your creative side, repurposing old shoes as plant containers aren’t as tricky as you might think. Just unleash your imagination and have fun with shoe planters in the garden.
Ideas for Shoe Garden Planters
When it comes to shoes as plant containers, think fun and fanciful, quirky and cute! Pull those old purple crocs from the bottom of your closet and turn them into miniature hanging baskets for herbs or trailing lobelia. Has your six-year-old outgrown her neon yellow rain boots? Will you really wear those orange high heels again? If the footwear holds potting soil, it will work.
How about your old, worn-out work boots or those hiking boots that give you blisters? Got bright red Converse high-tops? Remove the laces and they’re ready to go. If you don’t have any funky footwear that piques your imagination for shoe garden planters, you’re bound to find plenty of possibilities at a thrift shop or neighborhood yard sale.
How to Grow Plants in Shoes or Boots
Unless you’re using hole-y shoes or your old crocs with drainage holes already built-in, the first step to growing plants in shoes successfully is to create drainage holes. If the shoes have soft soles, you can poke a few holes with a screwdriver or large nail. If the soles are hard leather, you’ll probably need a drill.
Once you’ve created drainage, fill the shoes with a lightweight soilless potting mix. Likewise, you can choose to stick a smaller container (drainage included) into the shoe or boot whenever feasible.
Plant the shoes with relatively small plants such as:
- Small cacti
- Herbs like mint or thyme
If you have space, combine an upright plant with a vine that will trail down the side of your shoe garden planter.
Be sure to water regularly. Plants in containers, including old shoes, tend to dry out quickly.
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Read more about Container Gardens
How To Turn a Cardboard Box into a Garden Planter
If the children are tired of building boats and castles out of shipping boxes, let them build gardening containers.
We all know and love the advantages of container gardening. It offers a way for those living in small spaces to grow colorful flowers and fresh vegetables. We also know that the cost of planters and flowerpots can be quite high, especially if you want to grow more than two or three plants. Remember back in grade school when we used aluminum cans and milk cartons to grow seedlings? We knew, even back then, that it isn’t about how a planter looks, but how it performs. If you have a number of shipping boxes at your house, whether from a recent move, online shopping, or monthly fashion subscription services, you already have the perfect planter for growing edible plants in a container. The rectangular shape of sturdy cardboard boxes makes them easy to arrange in a yard or on a patio, and the cardboard can be recycled at the end of the season. If you are looking for an easy gardening project to do with your children, teach them how to turn cardboard boxes into garden planters.
Prepare the Box
Choose a box with the width and depth needed for what you want to plant - check your seed packet or plant tag for exact requirements. Radishes, for instance, don’t need as much depth as potatoes. Choose a sturdy, corrugated cardboard box rather than thin cardboard like a cereal box. If a box has been wet or has torn sides, send it to the compost pile and find another.
Turn the box over and reinforce the bottom with one or two strips of duct tape (or a similar strong tape) applied across the seam where the flaps meet. Apply tape to any weak corners on the box as well. Fold all the flaps down outside the box and tape them down. Not only does this hold the flaps in place, it also helps to strengthen the outer walls of the planter. To make your new gardening container more attractive, you can paint it, add stickers, or simply tie colorful ribbons around it.
Use a punch tool or large screwdriver to poke several holes, spaced about 4 inches apart, in the bottom of the box for drainage. If you wish, you can also line the box with a plastic bag to keep the box dry and extend its life, just remember to also poke drainage holes through the bag and out the bottom of the box.
Choose the Right Spot
Set the box in the spot where you want to grow the plants before adding the potting soil. Follow the sunlight needs for the type of plant you wish to grow to determine the best placement. Most vegetable crops, for example, require full sun or a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. This is the final location for the plant, because the cardboard will soften and become difficult to move later in the season. If you have filled your cardboard planter with kitchen herbs and plan to keep it on the patio or deck, it is a good idea to elevate the box – set it on bricks or slats - so that when the water drains out of the box it doesn’t just pool around the sides.
Add Soil, Seeds, and Water
Fill the box with lightweight potting soil to within 1 to 2 inches of the top. Tap the box to settle the soil. Plant seeds or seedlings in the box according to the package directions and follow the plant spacing advice on the package to decide how many plants to place in each box.
Water the plants in your new garden to keep the soil evenly moist follow watering guidelines for the specific plant you choose. Though cardboard gets wet when you water the soil, the porous, fibrous material dries out quickly, so you might need to water more frequently than with plastic and ceramic containers.
If the original box starts to break down before the end of the growing season, try to slip it into a new, larger box for extra protection – just remember to poke drainage holes in the new box. If possible, you can even move the plant to a permanent spot in the ground.
18 Household Items to Use as a Planter
Flowers and plants add color and a cozy touch to any indoor or outdoor space—but you don't have to stick with boring, conventional containers to house your blooms or greenery. Get creative and make use of items already in your home (or even in the pile that is headed to the donation center). Below are lots of creative planter ideas that you can use in your garden or around the house.
1. Tea Cups
Create a cute gift or decoration for your desk by using a coffee mug or tea cup as a planter. Small plants such as succulents are a good choice since they typically don't grow fast and will stay suited to the size of the container.
2. Crate With Moss
Metal or wood crates can give an industrial or rustic look to your home decor. To keep the dirt inside the crate, line it with plastic and fill with moss.
3. Tin Cans
Everyone has a few tin cans around, so this option is an easy one to find. To prepare them, simply remove the labels, wash, and dry. (You may want to sand the top edges down if they're sharp.) Add personal flair with paint or leave them as-is for a metallic look.
4. Glass Jars
Glass jars make beautiful planters, especially when you can see the roots growing up the sides. Use mason jars or any style you can find at a flea market for cheap.
5. Watering Can
Create a whimsical display with the watering can tipped on its side or hanging from a pergola with long flowers or vines hanging down.
By lining a basket with plastic before adding dirt, you can retain moisture while using such a readily available container. While you can definitely use baskets indoors, you can make use of them outside under covered patios for colorful annual flowers.
Vases can be used for more than cut flowers. Why not use them to pot a plant? Even the clear glass varieties can offer an artistic glimpse of growing roots.
Smaller kitchen crocks are great for condensed plants like cactus. Or, use the very large pickling crocks for an arrangement of several succulents or cacti.
You’ve seen them before and there’s a reason. It’s a great way to add character to your yard! With a little bit of cleaning and/or a fresh coat of paint, that used toilet can get new life, brimming with colorful flowers.
10. Coffee or Tea Cans
Large metal or plastic coffee cans are the perfect planter for adding extra flair to your patio arrangement or house décor. Just be sure to drill a hole in the bottom for drainage.
Vintage steins make a fun planter, especially with plants that grow straight up rather than drooping over the sides and covering the design. Try an aloe vera plant for this!
If you have an extra colander around the house, you have a planter! These are also common at thrift stores and flea markets and make a fun option for your plants inside or outside the house. If using indoors, line with plastic before filling with soil.
13. Shoe Organizer
Hanging shoe organizers have many great uses, but nothing brings them to life like a living herb garden! Simply fill each pouch with dirt and fertilizer and insert your small herb plants. This can hang indoors in direct sunlight or even hook onto the garden gate.
14. Wooden Boxes
Wooden boxes can be acquired at most flea markets or thrift shops. For a few dollars you can create a unique planter. If you want to change the look, simply paint the box or sand it down and stain it a different color.
Fishbowls make a great planter because of their large opening for plants. Create interesting layers with gravel and soil that you can see through the glass.
16. Paint Cans
Paint the paint can. Use your imagination to match any theme. Start by painting it a solid color such as black or white. Add a child’s hand print for a teacher’s or Mother’s Day gift. The options are endless!
17. Rain Boots
When their utility as footwear is done, add dirt to create a whimsical front porch display.
18. Burlap Sack
If you have extra feed bags around, roll down the sides, fill with dirt, and plant away. Burlap offers great drainage while holding everything together. Plus, it adds a rustic touch to any garden area.
You can easily upcycle many other household items that would normally end up in the trash including plastic containers, milk bottles, old cups and mugs, wicker baskets, colanders, tea pots, wooden crates, muffin tins, old tires, toolboxes, plastic buckets, purses… the list is endless!
With a bit of creativity it’s possible to turn just about any household item into a beautiful and unique planter for your backyard or garden.
So why not swap traditional plastic pots and containers for cleverly upcycled planters to help the environment and reduce waste.
Here’s a quick video that shows how to make easy DIY upcycled planters from household items.
How to Grow Plants in a Shoe Organizer
Vertical gardening is a method of growing plants for gardeners who don't have room for a garden, but want to decorate an outdoor space with greenery. While commercial vertical wall systems can be expensive, frugal gardeners know you can be innovative with household materials to achieve the same results. Turn a hanging shoe organizer into a set of pocket planters and decorate the wall near a porch or patio. Each pocket will easily support one plant, enabling you to grow a dozen herbs, flowers or vegetable plants in very little space.
Hang a shoe organizer on a fence, porch railing or up against the side of a building. Use simple shower hooks to hold it on a fence or a series of screws to install the organizer on a wall. Place it in a spot where it gets full sunlight.
Poke three or four drainage holes in each pocket, if the organizer is made of plastic or vinyl. Use a sharp nail to poke the holes in a line across the bottom of each pocket.
Fill each pocket with fresh potting soil. Leave 2 inches of space between the surface of the soil and the top of the pocket to allow enough room for watering the plants.
Plant one seedling or seed in each pocket, firming down the soil to make sure there is good contact between the soil and the roots. Use small plants with compact growth habits, such as strawberries, lettuce, carrots, radish, marigolds and petunias. Water the soil in each pocket thoroughly after planting until it is saturated to the bottom of the pocket.
Water the pockets whenever the soil dries out. Container plants need more frequent watering than garden patches, so you may need to water your vertical garden daily.
Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.
How to Make Flower Planters or Pots From Old Shoes
Container gardening embraces the basic concept that any container that can hold dirt can be made into a planter. Old shoes fill the description nicely as they can be recycled to use as miniature container gardens. Choose small, shallow-rooted plants that will thrive in your chosen growing environment. If you want to plant several different plants, they must all share the same requirements for sunlight, water and fertilizer. Pick bloom colors that complement the shoe and each other. Vary plant heights and add interest with attractive foliage. Cacti and succulents in varying heights, shapes, sizes, colors and textures lend themselves especially well to shallow shoe planters.
Wipe loose dirt and debris from the shoe’s surface with a damp cloth and allow it to dry completely. Apply two or three coats of outdoor acrylic sealer to all surfaces of the shoe. Follow the sealer's instructions carefully. Apply the sealer to the inside of the shoe with a paintbrush. If you prefer to leave the shoe in its current state, the planter will slowly weather naturally but won’t last as long.
Decorate the shoe with paints, markers or stickers if you wish. Preserve your artwork with a couple of coats of sealer.
Drill holes in the sole of the shoe to provide drainage. Space the holes about one inch apart. If you don’t have a drill, use a screwdriver or hammer and nail.
Pour potting soil into the opening of the shoe, filling the toe and foot areas first. Fill the shoe to about 1/2 inch from the top. Use a good, well-draining commercial mix that contains organic material, such as peat moss, for absorbing and retaining water. A medium that contains bark or perlite will provide good drainage.
Plant seedlings or small plants in the opening of the shoe at the same depth they occupied in the growing containers. Firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly to evenly moisten the soil.
Harvesting Your Herbs
The rule of thumb for harvesting herbs is to snip and pinch back often. Consistent harvesting will encourage the plants to branch and fill out which, in turn, will increase your overall harvest. Always tailor your harvesting to the plant's growth pattern and avoid cutting more than one third of the plant during the growing season. For example, basil leaves should be harvested regularly, and the flower buds should be removed, but basil plants should not be cut back all the way.
The flowers and seeds of some herbs, such as chives and dill, are edible. The leaves of others including oregano and basil will lose flavor and become bitter if allowed to flower. Remember that once a plant flowers and goes to seed, the seasonal growth cycle for that plant will be complete and the plant will no longer put out new growth.
At the end of the growing season, you can bring many of your herb containers inside if you get lots of indoor sunlight. Some herb plants are easier than others to keep alive indoors during the winter, though it's worth a shot for all your container herbs.
Finally, if you've grown more herbs than you can harvest for yourself, consider giving them as gifts. You can do themed herb container gardens, such as a "pizza" garden or an herbes de Provence container garden. Combine herbs and other edible plants in a pretty basket, or just pick a handful of herbs to put in a nice vase for an herbal bouquet. Many herbs like oregano, sage, rosemary and dill also dry well and can be kept in tightly lidded containers out of direct sunlight for use in cooking all year long.