If you love plants, you probably have indoor and outdoor container plants. Unless you have a lot of free time, however, you probably find that although you love your outdoor plants, they tend to get neglected and aren't always looking as nice as you wish they could. While nothing will replace the pleasure of growing a living plant in containers, if you are frustrated and give up on your outdoor potted plants, there are ways to use those pots creatively, without buying more plants.
Sometimes the planting container is hidden by plants. That is the time to use less than special pots. But if you are going to make the pot or other container at least half of the accent, pick the most decorative ones you have. You can also think beyond the traditional. While you can't use baskets as you would inside your home, outdoors anything weatherproof will work. Metal milk crates, buckets or glass bottles are all game. You can also use composite containers and paint with colorful outdoor latex paint. Since they won't be holding live plants, you don't have to worry about whether or not the container 'breathes'.
A fun option is to check your local flea market or second hand shops for unique containers.
Options for Plant Replacers
The shape and size of the pot or container you select dictates in its own way what shape and form of the inside accent. For example, a tall, skinny container calls out for either something that trails over the edges, or a tall slender sculpture. Here are some ideas of container accents other than plants:
- Dried weather resistant plants parts such as sahuaro ribs, ocotillo, yucca stalks, twisted or curved twigs
- Metal sculptures in the shape of flowers, grasses or other plant forms
- Enameled metal sculptures in any shape or form that fits in container
- Bamboo stakes cut into various lengths
- Dried grape vines
Materials for Weight or Decoration
Since these pot displays need no soil, you will need to provide some kind of weight to keep them and whatever you put inside in place and steady. Options include using rocks or gravel. If there is a potential for your containers to collect rain water, make sure there is a drainage hole. To make the filling material decorative and part of the design, fill the containers with dirt, gravel or rock to within a few inches of the top, and use landscape glass, marbles, sea glass or river rock on top.
You are only limited by your imagination, and have nothing to lose since you can't kill these outdoor amenities! Pots without plants are a great way to decorate your patio, but also an ingenious way to add decor to shady parts of your yard where plants just won't grow.