Upcycle Kitchen Trash Into Pretty Planters

plants growing from a white teapot

Kitchen trash can easily be turned to treasure with a few simple upcycling tricks, and getting into this habit can save money and prevent waste. Plus, with trends like thrift shopping on the rise, there is an easy way to get the thrifted look around your home without ever leaving your house. By taking your kitchen waste and turning it into pretty planters, you can go green in more ways than one.

To complete this simple, cheap DIY project, all you need is an open mind and an afternoon. Other helpful tools include scissors, a hammer or drill and a sponge or washcloth. Before you start planting, you'll also want to gather up your planting supplies like gloves, dirt, gravel, and fertilizer.

The Basics:

No matter what you’re using to upcycle into a planter, cleaning comes first. Plants won’t thrive in dirty cans or cartons, so give the intended receptacle a little soap and water bath in your sink. Don’t use any tough cleaning chemicals, which can leave traces in your planter and potentially harm the plant.

a plastic bottle planter

Planter Idea One: Can It

Old cans make great DIY planters. Start the transformation by making sure there are no dangerous, jagged edges. If there are, file them down to keep your hands safe while you plant, and your plant safe while it grows.

After you file down your can, consider poking holes for drainage in the bottom with a hammer and nails, or a drill. Drainage holes will improve your chances of keeping your plant alive. If you can’t poke drainage holes, fill the bottom third of your can with gravel or small stones to prevent root rot.

Before you plant in the metal can, decide if you’d like to decorate it. Peeling the label off the can will likely reveal a shiny silver surface ripe for the DIY taking. Use paint or other adhesive craft media to create a new look that will blend in with your current home decor. Because the outside of the can is likely to get wet from time to time, consider using a waterproof topcoat or a high-quality, water-resistant paint.

Planter Idea Two: Jarring

Most jars are made of plastic these days, which gives these cheap DIY planters a long shelf life. Clean carefully if you want to keep a vintage label in good shape. Sometimes that's the coolest part!

It can be tricky to drill drainage holes in a glass jar, so use rocks at the bottom, even in a small jar, to keep your plant healthy and growing. If you don’t have pebbles on hand, be careful not to overwater your plants, which will cause root rot and wilting.

tea cup with plant

Planter Idea Three: Cup of Tea

Cups, glasses, teacups, and mugs all make great, innovative planters. Whether you’ve got grandma’s old china, a mug with a broken handle, or a cup with a cool pattern, all of these are just planters waiting to happen. Because cups are often more shallow than your typical planter, stick to shallow-rooted plants like succulents in these. If you have a matching saucer to accompany your teacup planter, you can use hot glue to secure the cup to the plate.

Regardless of whether or not you plant a cactus or succulent in your DIY cup planter, buying succulent soil is a good idea. This particular type of soil allows for better drainage and water absorption in a shallow container.

Planter Idea Four: Paper Products

Paper products don’t have to be wasteful. Disposable cups and bowls can be used as a first home for your plant before you transplant it to a more permanent residence. Especially if you are propagating succulents, used (and cleaned) paper products can be put to good use.

Fill the plate, cup, or bowl with dirt and lay your succulent pieces on the damp soil. Mist the pieces every few days with a generous amount of water and in three to four weeks, you will have new succulent buds ready to plant.

Paper is flimsy, of course, and eventually, the dirt and water will deteriorate the structural integrity of the product, so plan where to move your plants when that happens.

Turning trash to planter treasure doesn’t have to take all day. Once you have the supplies on hand, turning an old soup can or marmalade jar into a planter only requires a little creativity on your part. Next time you go to toss something in the trash, ask yourself if it would look great as a planter somewhere around your home. Before long, you can fill your spaces with eye-catching, air purifying, room-cooling flora!