Transform an oil tin into an attractive recycled succulent planter. An inexpensive and creative gardening project for succulent lovers.
There’s a lot of trash that can be converted into planters, and large metal tins are one of them. To build this recycled succulent planter all you need is the can, a few tools, spray paint, and the plants to fill it up with. It’s a great project for giving old containers new life and looks great, especially when the sun hits the metallic surface.
The idea behind this project came from some small succulents that I’d recently picked up. I also had two metal oil containers knocking around so I came up with the idea of using them to display small clumps of many of the succulents I have in the garden. They’ll grow in the planter over time and the ‘babies’ will need replanting but it shouldn’t be too much work. With succulents, usually, all you need to do is pull the extra growth off and set it on the soil to form its own roots.
Recycled Succulent Planter
Many restaurants buy oils and other liquid foods in large metal containers. They can come in 5L (1 gallon) sizes like the one in this project or even larger or in different shapes. You can often get these tins for free if you ask but you can also find them at a recycling center or a food wholesaler. I buy them sometimes for soapmaking, especially my 100% olive oil soap recipe.
Succulents are a wide and varied group of plants that seem to thrive pretty much anywhere they’re thrown. In my garden, they tend to naturally grow on rock walls or in the cracks between paving stones. Yet when I plant them in decent soil they do even better. If you don’t have succulents at home, you can get them from friends, a garden center, or order them from an online retailer.
- Metal can or another type of container
- An assortment of succulents
- Metallic spray paint
- Cactus and succulent potting mix
Tools needed to make a Recycled Succulent Planter
- Hand-held can opener
- An electric drill/driver with bits specifically for metal (bits for metal are always gold in color)
- Tin snippers
- Metal File
Begin cutting the tin to create planting areas
The top of the can should be easy to remove with an ordinary can opener. Making the holes on the front of the planter is more involved. There will be other ways to make the holes, no doubt, but this is how I did it. First mark where you’d like the holes with a marker along the front of your container. Next drill holes all around the hole you’ve marked and then snip the metal disc out with the tin snippers. My holes are about two inches in diameter.
If you have good enough tin snippers then you could probably snip the entire hole out once you’ve made the first hole or two with the drill. There are round hole cutters that can attach to your electric drill to create perfect holes but the ones I have are only for wood. If you’d like to invest in metal hole cutters it might make this step easier.
The Finishing touches
While you’re drilling, make sure to make holes in the bottom of your planter for drainage. Ten or so holes should be fine. If your holes have jagged edges then it’s probably best to smooth them down and inwards with a file. Make sure to wear gloves.
The last step to creating the recycled succulent planter is optional but it makes the tin more attractive. Turn the planter upside down on a piece of cardboard and spray as directed with metallic spray paint. Leave to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Filling the planter with Potting mix
Fill the recycled succulent planter with a free-draining potting mix and firm it in gently. A special potting mix for cacti and succulents is best, but you can also use multipurpose. While you’re filling, the compost will want to come out of the holes in the front but keeping the planter at an angle will help.
Press the compost down from the top of the planter and next put a piece of wood over the top opening of the planter. Secure it with sturdy string so that it won’t come off when you lie the planter on its back. Please don’t use tape as you can see in my photo. When I removed it, it took the paint up with it and I had to repaint the planter.
Plant the Recycled Succulent Planter
With the planter on its side, fill the holes in with succulent plants. Press them in gently and add more compost to tuck them in. Water them through the holes and now let the plants grow for at least a week, if not two, keeping them moist and in a warm and sheltered place. If you give them that time then they’ll anchor themselves in with roots and won’t fall out when you turn the planter upright.
Your Recycled Succulent Planter is complete
After the 7-14 days are up, gently turn your planter upright and remove the covering from the top. Plant it up with more succulents and then place your recycled piece of living art somewhere that everyone can enjoy it. Mine brings a smile to my face each time I see it shining in the sun. No doubt the metal will rust over time but I look forward to the visual effect. Eventually, the container will need to be replaced but I expect this one to last at least a couple of years.
More Succulent Inspiration
If you’re looking for even more succulent ideas, check out these other projects.
- How to Make a Sea Glass Succulent Terrarium
- Repotting aloe vera babies (dividing aloe pups from the mother plant)
- Plant a Succulent Treasure Chest