Terra cotta planters are some of the least-appreciated planters in the gardening world. These planters tend to be heavy, are a little fragile, and come in a single color–orange.
Much of the time, these planters are overlooked in favor of plastic or ceramic planters, which tend to be much more attractive when bought off the shelf.
Of course, when it comes to these oft-overlooked planters, they can be transformed into incredible new displays for your patio or garden. Who says that terra cotta planters have to be boring?
We’ve scoured the Internet for some of the most clever and adorable ways to upcycle those plain old terra cotta planters and take them from blah to “wow!”
Let’s get started, get inspired, and start crafting!
1. Apple Containers
These fantastic and adorable little containers are fashioned from a simple terra cotta planter, the drip tray, and a clay stem. Paint the planters whichever color you’d like–we like the red the best–and then simply assemble. This is a fantastic craft to give away as a gift. Perhaps to a teacher? The start of the new school year is coming up quickly!
2. Terra Cotta Dog
Transform a group of planters with paint, foam ears, and a tuft of natural fibers for hair. Add a shiny collar and you have an adorable dog sculpture for your garden! This project is one that the kids will definitely want to help out with. Have them make their own smaller versions to give your larger version a few puppies!
3. Lighthouse Lantern
Source: Thrifty Fun
If you’re looking for a sculpture that just screams “beach house”, you won’t want to look past this lighthouse lantern. Stack two painted terra cotta pots on top of each other, then top with a solar or candle-lit lantern to create an adorable lighthouse sculpture that really works! You can also use a series of these to light a garden pathway, or simply to provide a gentle glow during the evening hours.
4. The “Bird Hut”
While this adorable feeder looks just like it could be a birdhouse, the entry hole is only painted on. Which is great for new DIYers, since cutting a hole in fragile terra cotta pots can be tricky. Instead, use the drainage holes in the bottoms of the planters and drainage dishes to easily hang this colorful feeder from a branch, so you can watch the birds stop by for a quick snack.
5. Fabric Lined Pots
Source: Christine Chitnis
Or, if you prefer just to dress up your old planters, you can line and cover them with a colorful, pretty fabric. Your planters will get a whole new look, and you’ll still be able to use them for their intended purposes! We really love the way the fabric clings to the sides, looking more like an incredibly delicate and detailed paint job than fabric!
6. Terra Cotta Wreath
This is an awesome idea! Find planters of all sizes, fill them with low maintenance succulents, and then arrange them around a sturdy wire frame to create a one-of-a-kind wreath that you’ll be proud to display. Be sure to add a few different elements to the wreath to give it visual interest. We love the addition of a vintage coffee mug to the above wreath, along with a combination of unpainted and painted planters.
7. Gumball Machines
Source: Karas Party Ideas
This is another gift idea that will look great both indoors or outdoors. The base of the “gumball machine” is an upturned planter, topped by a glass bowl. The top is made of a small drainage dish and a sturdy ball for the handle. Tie a ribbon around the middle to cover up any seams, and you have a lovely gumball machine that your friends will love!
8. Terra Cotta Snail
Source: Plaid Online
This is an incredibly creative garden sculpture constructed almost entirely out of painted terra cotta planters. The shell is held together by thick twine, and the sides are threaded through in a star pattern, which we think is an awesome detail–and probably one we wouldn’t have thought of. The neck is also made out of terra cotta pots, while the head and the connecting part of the neck are styrofoam. Add a bit of paint to the head and a few other small details, and you have an adorable garden snail!
9. Terra Cotta Bird Bath
Source: The Culinary Cougar
This colorful bird bath is really easy to construct, although you will need some seriously large terra cotta planters to do it. Start with your largest planter on the bottom, then stack the other pots in order of size until you’ve reached your desired height. Then attach the large drainage dish to the top–be sure that you’ve patched any holes! If you like, you can add a smaller dish to the side to create a tiered bird bath.
10. Terra Cotta Bike Rider
Use small and medium sized terra cotta planters to create a custom terra cotta golem to a position on a vintage child’s tricycle. While the tricycle itself might eventually get lost within your growing garden, the terra cotta man on it certainly will draw attention. Plant a flowering plant in the head to add more color, or vines in the joints.
11. Terra Cotta Rain Chain
Source: Design Sponge
This simple but lovely rain chain turns the simple act of guiding water off the roof and to the ground or a storage container much more elegant and soothing. This is one of the easiest water features to create, and even when it isn’t raining, they sway so prettily in the breeze, much like a wind chime. Be sure to paint your terra cotta planters a soft, soothing color that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
12. Terra Cotta Mushrooms
Source: Birds and Blooms
With just a quick paint job and some sturdy glue, you can create colorful toadstools for your garden, which are not only decorative but sturdy enough for children to sit on, should they wish. All you’ll need for this project is a large terra cotta planter and the drainage dish, along with paint. This is another great project for the kids to help with. Consider making a table as well to make a fantasy tea area!
13. Terra Cotta Table
Source: Dukes and Duchesses
This simple table is simply gorgeous, and the top actually lifts off, meaning you also get a bit of storage space. While this table isn’t large enough or tall enough to be a coffee table, it does make an excellent side table to set a glass of lemonade on as you bask in the summer sunshine of your patio or garden.
14. Terra Cotta Jewelry Stand
Source: Artsy Fartsy Mama
This is another indoor use for terra cotta planters that you’ll just love. While it’s shown here as a tiered jewelry stand, this can also be used as a fruit stand, a cupcake holder, or anything you desire! Simply position two terra cotta planters between drainage dishes to create a sturdy tower. Make sure to paint your pieces beforehand, so you don’t end up trying to paint the finished product!
15. Terra Cotta Garden Bells
Source: Cyndy Dyer
This is a neat take on a traditional wind chime, utilizing a wrought iron tripod to display a set of terra cotta planters held together by beads and a long string. In the breeze these will clink together gently, creating a soothing ambient noise. Utilize bright paints to pick up some of the brighter tones of the flowers in your garden!
16. Terra Cotta Candle Stand
Source: Jenn Speak
With a simple paint and stencil job, you can transform terra cotta planters into lovely display pieces that will hold pretty much any size candle you wish. These look best outdoors, but can also be brought inside should you desire. These are also great for gifts, especially if you and your children make them together.
17. Terra Cotta Fruit Serving Tray
Source: 21st Century Mama 1847
Much like the tiered jewelry stand, this serving tray utilizes stacked planters and drainage dishes to display fruit cups for your guests. We just love the way the sides of the drainage dishes have been painted, but the rest of the display pieces have been left their natural terra cotta orange color. Your guests will love this great idea for serving refreshing fruit cocktail!