Tim and I are perpetually fans of finding ways to put a clever spin on objects originally meant for one thing, as a way to bring them new life and function. Today we’re going to show you how to easily transform plastic animal toys into decorative planters filled with expression and character.
Not only are they are great way to bring some green elements indoors, but are such a fun way to add a little personality to any small space. Create an instant little friend and conversation starter on a mantle, ledge, desk, bookcase or even in the powder room. Make an entire collection by choosing different sized animals, using different colors on the same type of animals or grouping themes together like sea animals, reptiles, or farm animals.
- Hollow hard plastic toy animals
- Power drill*
- Hole saw*
- Spray paint
- Plants of your choosing (we chose succulent varieties)
- Small rocks, soil and moss
*If you do not have access to a power drill or hole saw, a utility knife can be used instead.
Start with your favorite hard plastic toy animals from your local craft or dollar store. You’ll want to opt for hollow varieties — these have an instant cavity perfect for planting. We couldn’t pass up this turtle and guinea pig — they just seemed like an unlikely, yet endearing pair:
Using a hole saw drill bit attachment, drill a hole through the back of your plastic animal, creating an opening and revealing the hollow cavity for your plant.
In a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and over a protective covering like cardboard or paper bags, apply thin and even layers of spray paint to coat the outside of the animals.
We decided on a glossy gray finish for our turtle and a shimmering champagne for the guinea pig (he was just begging for a little glam, would you agree?).
Make sure to get paint coverage in each of the little cracks, crevices and detailed areas of the toys, then allow to dry completely overnight.
This painting stage is where these little plastic toys really begin to transform into decorative pieces. It’s amazing what a solid coating of paint will do to make your animals go from “toy bin chic” to “high-grade planter.”
Once paint is completely dry, it’s time to get planting! We decided on succulent varieties like aloe vera and sunrise anacampseros since they adapt well for indoor use, require minimal care and seem to add a real sculptural look to the finished planter.
Begin with a thin layer of rocks to provide drainage, then nestle your plant inside, packing well draining soil or sand around it. Finish by packing moss (we used Spanish moss from the local craft store) around the opening of the planter to help secure everything inside and add a little decorative appeal.
The only thing left to do is find the perfect place to perch your new animal planters! We have ours keeping us company in our new office space and just love the way the light hits them from the window, catching a little shine:
As for care, succulents do very well indoors — give them a healthy spray of water when soil feels completely dry to the touch and otherwise let them do their thing!
These DIY animal planters are such a simple project to make and can also serve as a fun gift idea, party favor or craft activity. Many elements of today’s project are also kid-friendly. Outside of the cutting and painting steps, have your little one help you pick out their favorite plastic animal from the store or decide which ones they’re ready to retire from their toy collection. You could also ask them to help pick out plants and decide on final placement around the house for your new “living friends.”
Looking for more planting ideas? Keep up with eHow’s gardening series with weekly tips and tricks for a greener thumb from gardening expert, Mavis Butterfield.
Mary & Tim
Keep up with Mary and Tim’s adventures in DIY, home and gardening on their collaborative lifestyle blog, 17Apart. Find them on Instagram (@17Apart) and page through delicious recipes on Tim’s food blog, E.A.T.