In this article, you will find everything you need to know about how to make concrete planters at home.
Ready to get started making concrete planters? You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve been making concrete planters for over six years now, and during that time, I’ve put together 33 concrete planter tutorials and have a lot to teach you.
Whether you are a seasoned concrete planter-making pro or a first-timer, this comprehensive guide will teach you how to make concrete planters from start to finish.
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Materials Needed To Make DIY Concrete Planters
- Cement, rapid set
- Disposable bowl
- Disposable cup
- Durable nitrile gloves– I like these because they are so durable, you can rinse and reuse
- Safety glasses
- Safety mask– rated for silica dust
- Drinking straw- for the drainage hole
- Hot glue
- plastic bottles, plastic buckets, plastic containers
- Utility knife
Check out this article later for the entire list of the essential supplies needed for concrete crafts, and what’s important compared to what’s great to have.
The Type Of Mix You Should Use To Make Cement Planters
You can use almost any cement or concrete mix for planters. But the best mix for making pots will depend on what you are using as the mold, as well as the size of the planter.
The process is the same whether you make a “concrete” or “cement planter,” but the mix may differ slightly. Here’s an article explaining the differences between the two.
Cement All is the best mix for cement planters because it sets quickly and cures in about an hour.
I also like it because it’s one of the smoothest concrete mixes for planters.
The easiest way to get a planter smooth is by using a smooth mix.
Portland cement is another good cement mix for DIY planters. But you must add sand to it. Otherwise, it won’t bind.
Using a smooth cement mix to achieve smoothness in a planter is essential. But to do this, you must mix the cement or concrete so there are no lumps.
Pocket Guide to Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts
You will also need to vibrate the wet mix after you have cast your planter.
If you don’t vibrate the mix, you will have pin holes or pock marks (air gap holes) in your concrete planter.
You can go here to learn in-depth about the different concrete mixes.
How To Safely Handle Concrete
When you make concrete planters, there are precautions to take. Concrete is a caustic material that must be handled with gloves, especially when the mix is wet.
Even the dry mix powder can burn you. Be sure to protect your skin with very durable nitrile gloves when handling concrete and cement. A thicker glove will help prevent tearing.
Another danger to working with concrete is the dry mix dust harms your eyes.
Concrete also contains silica, which can cause cancer with repeated exposure. So please wear safety glasses and a silica-rated dust mask when handling concrete.
*For details about handling concrete safely, take a look here.
Steps For How To Make Concrete Planters
How To Make A Concrete Planter Mold
Making a concrete mold is quite simple. You can make a mold for a concrete planter by creating your own silicone mold. Or you can use materials such as wood or corrugated plastic.
For larger planters, use wood. Some people like to build plywood forms. I prefer using melamine since it has a smooth surface, which makes the concrete smooth and easier to demold.
The method you choose will depend on the size and shape of the concrete planter you intend to make.
You can also utilize other materials for making concrete molds. This article discusses all the methods for how to make concrete molds for crafts.
This article will tell you how to get your concrete shiny and how to get it matte.
Reusing existing molds is also an excellent option for making planters. I discuss this in detail in my article about choosing the best mold types for your concrete projects.
How To Create A Drainage Hole For A Concrete Pot
Cement and concrete planters need drainage holes, even though concrete and cement are porous materials. And so, you will need to create a drainage hole.
It’s much easier to make drainage holes during mold-making than drilling them after the concrete has cured.
So, how do you make a mold with a drainage hole?
First, take a drinking straw and cut it to about 1/4″. This is because the length will need to be the thickness of the bottom of the planter.
Next, use hot glue to glue it to the bottom of the concrete mold and then fill the straw’s open end with glue.
How To Mix Concrete
A typical cement pot recipe is a 4:1 ratio of mix to water.
Some mixes require the addition of sand, but most do not. If you are using Portland cement, your cement-to-sand ratio should be either 3:1 or 2:1.
This article provides complete details on the best cement mix ratio. The cavity’s thickness and the planter’s size determine this, which will be vital information.
The best mixture consistency to use when you make concrete planters is typically a brownie batter consistency, like pictured above, so that you can pour it in and get into the grooves.
You will want a slightly thicker apple sauce-like consistency for larger and thicker-walled planters.
Once you pour the mix into your mold, be sure to vibrate it until the air bubbles rise to the surface.
Now let this cure. The length of time will vary, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is typically 1-24 hours.
How To Cure Concrete Pots
The length of time you cure concrete planters will depend on the mix you are using and the size of the planter.
Most concrete and cement mixes will take about one day to cure and then several more days to dry.
These times are a general guide because a tiny cement craft will cure in less than 24 hours.
However, a large concrete planter box with walls 2” thick may take longer than 24 hours.
Many brands make a concrete mix that sets quickly. Some quick-setting mixes will cure in about an hour.
There can also be rapid setting mixes but not necessarily quick curing, which can still take a day to cure.
The reason for having a mix that sets quickly is that some projects do better if their setting time is shortened- like this Cement Balloon Planter.
Wet Cure A Concrete Planter
It’s important to note that some concrete mixes for planters require a ‘wet cure.’
Wet curing keeps the cement and concrete moist during the curing process.
The way to wet-cure concrete is to mist it with water and then wrap it with a plastic bag after it has been cast (or poured).
A mix that needs to be wet-cured will typically have that instruction labeled on the bag.
If you are working in dry, windy, or hot conditions, you can run into situations where a cement pot needs to be wet-cured.
These climate conditions will speed up the curing time and may cause the concrete to crack during curing.
Other than obvious climate conditions, there’s no way to know if you will have this problem ahead of time. Just be aware that the solution is wet curing.
I use Cement All for most projects and haven’t encountered the need to wet-cure any.
How To Color Concrete Planters
Adding a pigment is the easiest way to color a DIY concrete planter.
You can mix in many types of pigments with concrete.
These powdered mineral oxides are specifically formulated for concrete and will be the most pigmented, durable, and long-lasting.
You can add acrylic or latex paint to the wet mixture. Or you can always paint cement and concrete after it’s cured.
Painting and staining concrete planters are done the same way you would paint anything, using a regular paint brush, a foam brush, or with a spray paint can.
Concrete takes well to any acrylic or latex paint. And if you do paint the concrete, I recommend sealing with either a concrete sealer or an acrylic paint sealer.
To get details about each concrete coloring method, read Concrete Crafts Pigment Tests.
I also recommend reading this afterward as a follow-up on which colorants were best for retaining their color long-term outdoors.
How To Sand Your Planter
You smooth concrete planters by sanding them. There are many ways to sand them.
Some concrete and cement mixes are easier to sand than others.
You can usually get away with using a #100 grit sanding sponge for most mixes. After sanding with the lower grit, switch to a #220 grit.
I like to use diamond grit sanding sponges on planter edges for mixes that are harder and not as easy to sand.
How To Seal Your Concrete Pot
A concrete finish is naturally durable and does not need to be sealed unless you want to protect the finish from stains.
I only seal the DIY cement planters that I have created a marbling effect. I also might seal white cement to keep its brightness.
For example, here’s a tutorial where I mixed latex paint into the mix to make a Green Marbled Cement Planter.
Sealing a concrete planter will reduce its porosity, which isn’t necessarily helpful for growing plants.
The innate porousness of concrete helps keep plant soil from being over-watered.
Another reason to seal concrete is if you are potting a plant that requires acidic soil. More on this below.
To seal concrete planters, use a foam brush or rag and brush or rub on a concrete sealer after the concrete has completely dried.
Issues and Concerns With DIY Concrete Planters
Cracking Problems In Concrete
If you find cracks in your concrete planter after removing it from the mold, you likely had too much water in the mix.
If you have cracks while it’s curing, it is curing too quickly for conditions and must be wrapped in plastic and kept moist.
This in-depth article explains the reasons why your concrete pots keep cracking and how to prevent it.
Plant Health and Concrete Alkalinity
Not every plant thrives in an alkaline environment, which is what a concrete planter provides due to the lime content.
It is an excellent planter for many plants but not for all. However, you can easily make this a planter in which every plant can be happy.
Rather than get into all the details here, I have an article explaining concrete and plant pH and the easy workaround.
If you are looking for plants that are great for pots during winter, you can read about those here.
- Cement, rapid set
- Nitrile gloves
- Safety glasses
- Safety mask
- Please see the complete materials list near the top of the post.
First, you will choose a mold for your planter.
The easiest planter mold to work with is one that has smooth sides and is either straight up and down or tapers outward at the opening.
You will also need a smaller mold that you will insert inside of the outer mold. This will be the actual cavity of the concrete planter.
Make sure the molds allow for ¼” of space on each side and the bottom when placed inside each other.
To make the drainage hole for the concrete planter, take a piece of a drinking straw that's about ¼” high and use hot glue to glue to the bottom of the container.
Use hot glue to also fill in the top open end of the straw.
Mix the concrete to a thick milkshake consistency and then pour the concrete into the mold.
Fill this to about ⅔ full and insert the inner mold until you feel it hit the drinking straw.
Vibrate the outer mold by tapping the sides of the mold and carefully tapping it on your work surface.
- Let the concrete cure for the length listed on the bag of mix.
If you are using Cement All, then let this cure for one hour.
- Demold the planter by turning it upside down and gently tapping it on the table.
I recommend using a towel underneath to cushion the planter so it doesn’t fall out and chip.
- Pull out the drinking straw to reveal the drainage hole. Use needle-nose pliers if it sticks.
Sand any rough edges with #100 grit or #220 grit sandpaper.
Here are great beginner concrete planter ideas:
And you can go here for other concrete crafts tips.
Don’t forget to Pin it for later!
Don’t forget to Pin it for later!