Plant in many ways

Amrita Prasad
Saturday, 3 March 2018

Objects that usually end up in the trash can be upcycled as planters to add more greens to your home

Recently, a picture of tender coconut shells used as planters was trending on social media. Women in WhatsApp groups shared the picture, calling it a ‘great idea.’ People on Facebook shared it on their wall suggesting others to use the idea to grow small plants. We also saw a few celebs like Dia Mirza, who care for the environment, tweeting and re-tweeting the picture. This caught our fancy and we thought if tender coconut shells can be put to use to grow plants, other discarded household items like old bottles, boxes, bowls, tumblers, tyres and even small bulbs can be used as planters. 

HarperCollins recently launched a book titled Green Gardening Ideas to Potter Around With. Written by a journalist and children’s author Benita Sen and illustrated by Vandana Bist, the book focusses on the ideas of ‘green’ garden which implies that while you are growing plants, instead of buying big earthen pots or fancy planters from the market, you must re-purpose things that you usually throw away or find lying around in the house.  

In the book, the author, expressing her concern about  the lack of space to grow plants, says, “Sadly, most of our towns and cities are growing so fast, they have left very little space for trees, and plants, parks and gardens. If we’re not careful, we may soon be living in urban deserts. Each of us can add a touch of green in our own lives and decorate our little garden with things around us. As more and more of us pack ourselves into towns and cities, our homes and gardens are getting smaller.

But does that mean we give up on gardening? Not quite. We can garden almost anywhere. Look again at balcony, window box, or even windowsill. There’s always a space for a few plants in every home. So, while plants would be happiest being planted in the ground, in most gardens today, we use flower posts or containers.”

We picked up some of the ideas from the book for you to try at home: 
Coconut shell 
Most of us love drinking coconut water and often the empty shells keep lying around. But what if you could turn them into planters to grow small plants? You can also hang the coconut planters from the balcony or window in a spot that gets a few hours of sunlight. 

Unlike broken pot, the coconut shell won’t allow any water to drain out. So go for plants that don’t mind soaking their feet a little, such as money plant. Before watering, stick a finger into the soil to check if it is dry. If the soil feels moist, you can postpone watering.

Greens in shoes 
Gardening is not just about adding greens to your home but also adding some elements of creativity. Don’t throw away old shoes and boots because they can serve as great planters. You can fill the shoes with potting soil followed by making a hole in the middle of the soil and placing the roots of the plant. After you have filled the dent with soil, ensure that there are no air pockets left in the soil. If you are using plastic footwear as planters, you can choose succulents to plant in them as they do not retain a lot of moisture. However, if you are using an old boot, you can plant ferns that may tolerate more water. Not all ferns like direct sunlight. 

Potting with pots 
You can use broken pots to grow plants. All you have to do is paint them. Block the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot with broken bits from the pot. This will prevent the mud and the nutrients from being washed out when you water the plant. To add more fun, if you have more broken pots, place one over the other using an old aluminum rod to make a tall arrangement. For such planters, you need a plant that does not need much water, such as cactus, as some water will leach out. 

A tyresome idea  
Zenobia Zafar, Pune-based landscape artist, suggests that old tyres make for great planters. If you want to get a little more creative, try to paint them in neon colours.

“Upcycling is a great way to preserve nature. You can place the tyres in your balcony or in the garden area. You can also choose from different sizes of tyres and grow plants of your choice,” she suggests.

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