Cement Plant Pots Tutorial

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Using minimal materials such as cement and household plastic containers, you can make modern, natural planters over the span of a weekend, resulting in a big decor impact for a budget-friendly price.

DIY concrete planters
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Things You'll Need

  • Portland cement

  • Plastic bowls, planters and other vessel forms

  • Cooking spray

  • Gallon mixing bucket

  • Garden hoe

  • Brick or other heavy object that fits inside the smaller container

  • Medium-grit sandpaper, for example #P60

  • Fresh plantings

  • Potting soil

  • Gardening trowel

*Portland cement can be found at most hardware stores; it is a smooth powdery consistency, which is commonly mixed with small stones and/or sand to make most types of concretes and mortars.

Plastic containers of different sizes and shapes will make the basic mold for each planter. You'll need one larger container for the base and another smaller container to fit inside the first, which will make the planter cavity.

Plastic conainters make molds for cement planters
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Look for everyday household containers to recycle from around your house, discarded plastic planters from local garden centers or single-use plastic serving bowls and buckets from the dollar store. Because the planter will take the shape of the original container, choose containers with patterns on the outside to add visual interest to the finished product.


Although the containers can be cleaned and reused after the molding process, do not consider them food-safe after this project.

Coat inside of the base container with cooking spray. Doing so will help ease the process of removing the hardened and molded cement planter when it begins to dry.

Use cooking spray on the plastic molds to ease the removal process
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Mix a 1:2 ratio of water to cement in a gallon paint bucket and use a garden hoe to blend until the mixture reaches a uniform, workable consistency.

Mix the concrete with a 1:2 water to mix ratio
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra


At this mixing stage, you could also mix in a concrete dye, if you prefer the look of terra cotta or another natural stone color.

Pour the cement mixture ⅔ from the top of the larger base container. Work quickly, because the cement will begin to set within the next five to 10 minutes. Coat the outside of the second smaller container with cooking spray, and gently press it into the cement-filled container until the mixture rises to the top edges of the original container.

How to make plastic container molds
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Use a brick or other heavy object to weigh the interior container down into the concrete mixture. Otherwise it will gradually float back up to the top during the drying process.

Use weights, like bricks, to keep the interior containers from floating up
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Allow the molded concrete to set up and dry overnight. When it's set and partially dried, pull the cement forms free from the container molds. Gently pull away the sides of the containers, wiggling back and forth if need be until the cement form slips free.

After the concrete hardens, remove the plastic molds
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Allow the planters to continue fully drying, another two to three days, depending on the size of your planter. Larger forms will consequently have longer drying times.

Smooth away any rough edges, bubbles or divots in the planter surface by rubbing with a piece of medium-grit sandpaper.

Sand the planters to smooth rough edges.
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Because natural concrete is a porous surface, adding drain holes is an optional step at this stage. Drill through the bottom of each planter, using a masonry drill bit if doing so.


You could also apply a coat of decorative outdoor paint or concrete stain to vary up the natural look at this stage.

Plant fresh blooms, succulents or herbs in the concrete vessels, packing lightly with potting soil until supported and study.

Use the concrete planters as flower pots
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Plant potted flowers directly into the concrete forms
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Water the newly potted plants, and allow them to sit in the sun while the they get used to their new environment.

How to make concrete planters
Image Credit: Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Use them to create a centerpiece on an outdoor table, arrange indoors to add natural charm to an empty corner or bring along to your next housewarming as a homemade gift, filled with modern character.

Looking for more project ideas? Learn how to dress up your clay pots with mosaics or make bunny-shaped planters from recycled cartons or these geometric concrete bookends.