DIY: Cement Planters

By Kate Riley August 18, 2009

Last time, I showed you how I made cement candleholders out of ordinary plastics purchased from the grocery store.  Today, the focus is planters.  Unless you want just a simple cachepot, if you truly want your planter to drain there is an added trick.  How to add drainage holes to a cement planter?  With the addition of plastic straws to your plastic molds.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the planters I made using regular plastics for the outside mold.  For the inside mold, I used the plastic container that housed my plant from the nursery.

A fern planter for my master bath:

For my outdoor patio table:

A striped version for a guest room windowsill:

How to Make Cement Planters:

Supplies :

  1. Plastics in various sizes for outside mold.  They can be storage containers, deli containers, or juice jugs
  2. Plastic container from your plant for the inside mold
  3. Non-stick cooking spray
  4. Plastic straws
  5. Plastic sheeting
  6. Rapid set cement mix from home improvement store (I recommend the 55 lb. bag over the 10 lb. box if you want to do more than just a few small tea light candleholders.)
  7. Plastic bucket for mixing
  8. Stir stick (pick up a free one in the paint department)
  9. Measuring cup
  10. Sanding pad
  11. Latex gloves
  12. Outdoor ‘Patio Paint’ in colors of choice

Step One: Clean and dry your plastic molds.  Spray the inside of your plastic mold with a thin coat of cooking spray.  The cooking spray isn’t absolutely essential, but it does help ease your plastic away from the cement when you pop it out of the molds.

To allow for drainage, use a knife to make small holes in the bottom of your outside mold and slide your straws up through the outside mold and through the drainage holes in your inside mold.

Like this:

Step Two:  Lay down plastic sheeting on your workspace, and put on your latex gloves – cement is irritating and very drying to your hands.

Step Three: Mix your cement with 4 parts cement powder and 1 part water as directed on the bag.  It should be similar to the consistency of cake mix.

Step Four:  Working quickly, pour your cement into your plastic mold, and set the inside mold on top, over your straws.  Use some pebbles or small rocks to weigh your inside plastic mold down, because it tends to want to rise up out of the cement. The easiest way to get into small crevices between your molds is by stealing a baker’s trick and clipping the corner off of your own ‘pastry bag’ filled with the cement mixture.

Note:  A small amount of your cement will creep up through the other drainage holes.  You could use plastic wrap to cover the holes.  I just scooped it out with my gloved hands and put it back into the outside mold.  If you leave it in the bottom of the inside of your planter, it will solidify and make the removal of your inside mold very difficult.  Be sure to twist your straws every five minutes.

Make sure your plastic mold is on a level surface.  Gently tap your planter mold about a dozen times to bring any bubbles to the surface.  At this point, you can also add pebbles, marbles, shells or other decorative items to the top of your planter mold like I did with this candleholder from my last post.

Step Five:  If your rapid set mix will solidify in 15 minutes, then let your mold sit for approximately 10 minutes, and gently pull your inside mold out.  After the full 15 minutes, when you can feel the outside cement is very warm inside its plastic mold, and when it starts to form some condensation, remove the straws and pop it out of the mold.  Do this just before it is permanently set.  It’s about a 2 minute window, so stay by your project. Note:  Your plastic storage containers are reusable after this project – be sure to rinse any cement residue out of your mold right away.  But don’t rinse it down your indoor plumbing, only outdoors.

Step Six:  Take your sanding pad and gently rub away any rough edges on the surface and sides.

Step Seven:  Let your finished planters cure for 12 to 24 hours.  For a painted surface, add your choice of outdoor Patio Paint available at most craft stores.

And that’s how to make a planter out of a lemonade jug or other plastic container!


I hope you’ll look twice at the next plastic container in your kitchen.  It could become something lovely, with your own creative and personal touch!



  1. I love the rustic quality of these. I think I'd make a shallow version with a larger center, paint it black or brown and use it to display pretty autumn leaves, acorns and pinecones. Now I just need to find someone to carry that 55 lb. bag for me.

  2. Just the cutest! And functional…for any room , to match any decor…brilliant!

    m ^..^

  3. I love these planters. What a great and realatively easy project – thanks for sharing! I have a few plants in the house that need new pots. I can't wait to try it out.

  4. I just love this idea and they would be perfect for my patio and the candle ones how cute.

  5. Gran idea para hacer los maceteros. Gracias por compartirlo.Felicitaciones.

  6. With the prices of decorative pots, these are a neat way to get a custom decorative look for less. And it looks like an engaging project, too. I love the whites and aquas in your home. The window display with the striped pot is so lovely!

  7. Cement doesn't get enough respect and the two projects you have featured using it are tre excellent!

    I wonder if one of my brothers have some sitting in one of their garages…these would be a fun project to do with my nieces and nephews (all older than 9 so should be doable). Heck even my 19 year old niece who lives with her boyfriend might dig it too!

    Thanks for posting these!

  8. Oh…I so love the things you show me to do! I love the candle holders and now this…so neat. Thanks.

  9. This is a wonderful project! I can see tealight holders in my mind now…. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

    You always have such beautiful projects, I love stopping by for inspiration and motivation.

  10. I love this! I just started reading your blog in the past week, and I'll be linking to this on mine.

  11. Lovely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Hi I´m from Uruguay and I´ve just found this blog and I love it. I really need something for my plants and I wanted to do it myself but didn´t know how. Now I found just what I wanted. So thanks a lot. It´s awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. What a great project! I hate how over-priced planters are – this is such a great way to make them cheap! Thanks for sharing!

  13. these are amazing… why do i feel like if i try this, it wont come out like urs :/ im gonna try it! will let u know how it goes!

  14. I’m sending this to my sister right away — betcha she’ll make one of these, too! I remember watching my grandfather and father lay cement when I was a little girl. My Italian grandfather was so, so fussy, and everything had to be absolutely perfect. My poor dad, helping out his father on his day off, and having to get it just right. Funny Father’s Day sort of memory, isn’t it?

    A friendly “wave” to you from Cape Cod,
    Jude from
    dolcecapecod dot

  15. Just found this website today, in search of furniture re-dos. Found much more than that!
    I recently got into the “treasure hunt” fixation with thrift stores and consignment shops. So this website is just perfect! Saw on a show once making your own planters, and wanted to do that, but fogot about it until now. Definitely going to share this website with others! Can’t wait to keep checking out more & more & more on here! Greetings from Georgia!!

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