May 3, 2010

Tiered terracotta planter

With the advent of spring, something in my soul truly clamors for color, and nothing scratches that itch like a trip to my favorite nursery, The Flower Depot in Mayflower, Arkansas. Yesterday, I had the privilege to leave home (sans a single child!) for a couple of glorious hours while I headed to Tom’s store to buy my beloved spring flowers. Petunias, geraniums, and impatiens, oh my! The tranquility of that place is the antithesis of the constant hullabaloo of Chez Bell. 😉

Few things please me more than to use something I already have on hand in a fresh way to create something beautiful, so when I saw an idea a few years back in Southern Living for a completely ingenious new way to dress up ho-hum terracotta pots, I was totally on board. The concept is simple: take three standard pots – one large, one medium, and one small – and nestle them within one another in a way to create a planter that is as impressive as it is cost-effective. You just can’t beat that with a stick! I have been implementing the same idea since I first came across it all those years ago, and I’m going to share with you today exactly how I build my planter each year.

This year, I decided to dress things up a bit by painting the pots in vibrant red and turquoise (my current favorite color combination) and then stenciling our street number onto the largest pot. I am so pleased with the finished result!

Three terracotta pots: one small, one medium, one large
One terracotta saucer to fit the largest pot (optional, but highly recommended)
Thompson’s Water Seal spray
Spray paint
Acrylic craft paint and foam brush
Stencil (I created one using a sheet of card stock and my Cricut)
Paint Pen
Potting soil
Crushed Coke cans

A few tips:

  • When choosing flowers to fill your pot, gardening experts recommend striving for plants to fit each of three descriptions: a thriller (something dynamic that immediately draws in the eye), a spiller (something that will trail down the side of the pot to add visual interest and anchor your design) and a filler (a flower variety to fill the space with lots of yummy color). In my planter this year, I chose Dracaena (a spiky plant – my thriller), Margarita Sweet Potato Vines (my spillers), and Diamond Frost and Petunias in red and white (fillers).
  • Don’t remove your stencil until your design has had the opportunity to dry completely.
  • Look to buy the pots when they are on sale to make this project especially budget-friendly. I purchased mine a couple of years ago from Garden Ridge at half off.
  • I recommend filling the bottommost space of any pot with crushed Coke cans to ensure proper drainage and so that the planter doesn’t become excessively heavy (and thus more difficult to move around). As long as you leave at least 10 inches or so of soil to fill the top portion of the pot, that will be enough space to allow for adequate root development.

Have a terrific week!
 Please take a moment to check out these marvelous parties where I’ll be sharing this project!


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104 Responses to Tiered terracotta planter

  1. Kelli @ RTSM May 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    What a fun planter! I love the colors you chose too!

  2. Blessed Mommy of 2 May 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    *love* this! Thanks so much for sharing =)

  3. Michele {The Scrap Shoppe} May 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    I was so intrigued by your sneak peek of this project last week! I love it! I’m so going to make one of these for my patio.

  4. Amy Bowman May 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    really neat! i love that this is big statement without having to buy a ton of plants! Found you at Skip To My Lou

  5. Southern Fried Gal May 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    I went all the way to Making The World Cuter to find a neighbor! I’m in NLR!

    I remember this in SL, too. I have it in my idea book! Very cute with the funky color and numbers – great job!

    Happy to find you out here. Have a blessed week!

  6. Practically Spent May 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Nice character ~ love the colors too.

  7. Happy Gramma May 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this. It is so beautiful with all those flowers!
    I am following from Friday Follow.
    Come visit me and enter my drawing for the Mother’s Day basket. There is only 1 more hour in the drawing!

  8. Sailing Simply May 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    This is so cute! I love it!

  9. val May 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    This is such a great idea! I just might have to try this with all the random pots I have laying around :)!

  10. Nicole Maki May 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    This is a fabulous idea and I can’t wait to try it – we still have snow and that looks a little too heavy to haul inside for storms.

    I’ve heard the ‘thriller, spiller, filler’ rule before but when I’m standing at a nursery I never know which is which.

    Thanks for a brilliant idea. Found you from Making the World Cuter.

  11. Stacy May 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I love this Amy! Thanks so much for sharing! I have plenty of pots to paint and do this with. Now, to just pick out my spray paint colors and my flowers.

  12. Rachel May 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    This looks so cool! At first I was just thinking I’d look but not be inspired to make, but wow! This is so cool and I think doable for our front door area. I was needing something to “dress it up” a bit. Thanks for the great idea.

  13. PeaceLoveApplesauce May 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    This is so, so, so cute!!

  14. TheVirginiaHouse May 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    I love this!!! What a cute idea and so creative. thanks for sharing. Link up to my We Can Do It Cheaper parties on Thursdays. I would love to have some of “my” followers see the stuff you do.
    My mom just sent me over here and I’m loving it so far.

  15. Natalie May 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Hi! LOVE this idea!! Found you on Blog Frog and I’m so glad that I decided to peek at your blog because I’m your newest follower!! I can’t wait to do this for my sister-in-law; she’d love it too! Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Terry May 4, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    I just love your flower pots and am now following your blog..lots of great creative posts.

  17. Debbie May 4, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    You totally inspired me, that was awesome, and I love all the colors

  18. ladybug May 4, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    Beautiful! I love it! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  19. ABC and 123: A Learning Cooperative May 4, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    Hi Amy! Love it, what a great idea! It’s Katie from Katie’s Nesting Spot but I’m signed in as my educational blog. I’m working on a Mother’s Day idea post and I’ve included this in it. I used your 3 photo collage, gave a brief description, credited you, and provided a direct link to this post. I hope that was okay, but if it’s not let me know and I’ll remove it.

  20. Rosies May 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Oh my gosh I love this!! So cute! I am going to have to make one for sure!! Thanks for adding one more thing to my list!

  21. Kendra @ Domestic Princess in Training May 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Love this and the colors you put together are super cute!

    Kendra “Domestic Princess in Training”

  22. HuNnY aNd PoPpA LeWiS May 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I love this idea & the colors you used are super! Thanks for the tip on the plants to use–I had never heard that info before! 🙂

  23. Ashleigh May 4, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    How can something so simple, be so genius! I love this and I have a stack of terra cotta pots waiting to be painted. Thanks for inspiring me, just in the nick of time!

  24. Kimba May 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Oh. My. Word. Love this!

    I actually bought a set of pots to do something similar last summer. I never got around to finishing the project but I’m totally inspired and motivated now.

  25. brandy May 5, 2010 at 1:54 am #

    This is FANTASTIC! Thank you for sharing. Now I am off to browse the rest of your blog! It is just beautiful and I am going to add it to my side bar 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration!


  26. Meet Virginia May 5, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    Oh my this is too cute! And your pics are lovely great job!!


    Meet Virginia!
    Meet Virginia!
    Meet Virginia!

  27. Tasha May 5, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I just love this! I am going to feature it on my blog today. Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  28. Wendy May 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    very cute idea!!!

  29. Anj May 5, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m loving this! I’m planning a trip to the nursery this week… it looks like my shopping list just got a little longer;)
    BTW… darling blog!

  30. Kimbo West @ a girl and a glue gun May 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    I just blogged about these….I love them so much!

  31. Leslie May 5, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    I am in LOVE!!! This is a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to make a set.

  32. Carrie @ Dittle Dattle May 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    Oh, I have been thinking about doing our house number on pots but I never thought about doing it in that size! Wow that is awesome!!! Thanks for sharing

  33. Summer May 6, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    This is fantastic! I’ll be featuring it on my blog at the end of May!

    Thanks for sharing!

  34. Mariska May 6, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    This is SO cute. Nice colors, too!! This is my first time at your blog, too, so I’m going to check out more, it looks so neat!

  35. concretenprimroses May 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Beautiful. And a great way to show your house number.

  36. Debilou~Mississippi Mama May 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    i’m so in love with this,, the color combo is so pretty. Just might have to make one for Mothers day.. surely be something they dont already have. Thanks for sharing with us..

  37. One Cheap B*tch May 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I am totally trying this!

    New follower!


  38. Kama May 6, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    I just started this project. Do you have to put multiple layers of water seal on it? The first one I did is really splotchy… Maybe it’s the cheap $.97 WM paint?? I’ll try another coat of each on the next pots…

  39. Crafty Batches May 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    This is extremely cute, I HAVE to make one too! 🙂 Thank you for sharing ~Sam

  40. Amy May 7, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    What a great idea! I love it! I’m a new follower! Such a cute blog! Thanks for sharing!

  41. kanishk May 7, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing =)
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  42. Lorie May 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Those are adorable! I am going to feature them on my blog tomorrow!!

  43. Haley May 8, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    I love this! Something like this would be a perfect addition for my patio garden!

  44. Fawnda May 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Very cool! I love the stacking look! : )

  45. May 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Wow, the colored pots really add to the display! Well done! Thanks for sharing…I’ve posted a link.

  46. Stephanie May 9, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    this idea is amazing” I especially like the colors that you chose.

  47. Kristi May 9, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Just wanted to let you know that I featured this, this week.

  48. LaKeta May 9, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    This is absolutely a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  49. Holly May 9, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    I must make this to put on my revamped front porch!

  50. Fawnda May 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    I just wanted to let you know that I featured you here:

  51. Jeannine May 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Just found you through A Soft Place to Land. Love these pots. I may have to make some for my front porch.

  52. Life in Rehab May 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    I made the hop over here from Fireflies and Jellybeans (I’m the wall in the feature), and I hafta HAFTA do this! Your tutorial is great by the way.

  53. Kelli May 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    I love this! It’s on my to-make list; thanks for the wonderful how-to!

  54. Kimm at Reinvented May 11, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Just fabulous! I really love your color combo, one of my faves too! Will definitely give this a try.

  55. The Autocrat: Haley May 11, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    I am sooo wanting to do the numbers on the clay pots. I am going to give some away for Christmas. However, the tower is very fabulous!! Need one for my front porch!

  56. ificould May 11, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    I love this! Featured it on my blog

    Found you from girl and a glue gun- can’t wait to check out your other projects and see what you do in the future!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  57. ificould May 11, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  58. May 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Wow, this is gorgeous! I’ll definitely be doing this sometime this week. And I would love to link to this if you didn’t mind.

  59. Sheila Irish May 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE this and I cannot wait to try this myself! Thank you for sharing your Tutorial with us….Can I ask what the names of the colors of spray paint are that you chose to use? I LOVE those colors….

  60. Embellished Bayou May 14, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous tutorial! I’ve been so tempted to buy one of those re-barb poles to stack the tilted pots on, but they are $25! This is a much more cost-effective solution. I especially love how you painted them.

  61. Amanda Stephan May 14, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    What a wonderful tutorial! I love that planter ~ going to the store to buy the materials after the kids are out of school! And, going to have to grab your button for my blogs! Thanks for sharing it!

  62. Annie May 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing such a cute idea. I love the blogging world for this reason. We posted a link on our blog.

  63. Mary Ellen May 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Love this!! I out to hunt for some pots that will work- I have a ton!

  64. Crafty Batches May 26, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    Hey it’s Sam and Andrea from Crafty Batches and we are awarding you the Gorgeous Blogger Award! Please visit our site to see all the details and to pass it along to your favorite blogs!

  65. Sweeter Hours May 26, 2010 at 3:30 am #

    Just featured this on my blog! What a lovely idea 🙂

  66. michelle@somedaycrafts May 28, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    I’ll be the 100th person to feature this on my blog! Looks lovely

  67. Ginger May 29, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    Love the looks of this !
    Thank you for the tutorial

  68. Pam May 30, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    In one word…..genius! Yeah!

  69. Life in Rehab May 31, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    I made this and I’m blogging it tomorrow, giving you credit of course! Pop by and see how I did.

  70. Sharon@Keeninspirations June 2, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    Hi! I just finished looking at Brandy’s Tiered planter and she mentioned that yours was her inspiration, so I thought I would come and see yours too! I love the colors that you chose!!1 Thanks for the tips on how to plant in them. I made a “Tipsy” tiered planter a while back and choosing the right plants was the hardest part for me!
    When you have a minute, please stop by and have a look at mine!

  71. Amanda June 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    I love this! I can’t wait to make one for our new house!

    I am featuring you on my Friday Favorites this week!

  72. Margaret C June 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi Amy!
    I don’t know if anyone else from over the pond has made one, but your idea has travelled all the way over to a wee village in Scotland ! Here’s my take on it – maybe not as classy as yours, but still as much fun!
    Now all we need is to keep the sunshine and perhaps the plants will grow!

    See it at (scroll past the photo of cards!) :

  73. gracielynn's June 9, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Lovely ! just the thing I need to perk up my front porch !
    thanks for the great tute !!:-)

  74. Denise from Ark June 23, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    I have the tipsy-pot thingie and everyone loves it. However, last year when I planted it, I just left the pots their natural TC color. I love the way you’ve used them as a house number, and here’s why:

    My husband is a travel nurse and works contracts about 13 weeks at a time all over the country. We travel and live in a large RV. The lot numbers are oftentimes not very evident, so this is a good way to change up our “address” fairly often. I’ll just have to use greenery that will withstand the cold for winter filler, with picks or other decorations for color.

  75. Lisa at Paint in my Hair July 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I love this!! We are having a new patio poured next week and as soon as it’s done I intend to copy this.


  76. Michelle @ Sweet Something July 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Love this! The colors are fantastic!

  77. smilingjaws July 12, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    Petunias + 42. Is this a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference? Hahaha.

    Lovely diy.

  78. Bella September 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Oh man, this is awesome. It just might be exactly what I need for my very boring planters in front of my garage. I want more height and with your wonderful tutorial, I think I know what to do now. Just curious why you spray water sealer on the inside of the pots? Is this to prevent them from molding, as this is what I hate about terra cotta pots. Your colors are fabulous, and I just live this idea so very much. Thanks a bunch for sharing. !!!

  79. Heidiopia April 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Hi Amy! Just found your blog and i am in love with this project! I just featured you in conjunction with Home Depot’s Black Friday sale– headed out to get my supplies for this right now. Pop over if you can!

  80. Dawn April 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Love this and can’t wait to do it!! Thanks for the fantabulous inspiration!

  81. mommy2luke2008 May 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    LOVE THIS!!! I’m going to make one of these for my front porch this summer! I featured this on my friday favorites!

  82. Jasey @ Jasey's Crazy Daisy May 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Super Cool! Love it! Want one! Shared on my facebook page!

  83. Heather May 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    What were the sizes of the pots you used?

  84. Kelly June 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Thanks for the great idea! Mine’s finally finished in hot pink and lime green with white and pink flowers and bright green plants! Love it! Thanks!!

  85. Christy July 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    I LOVE this! Your newest follower. Have a fabulous day. 🙂

  86. Mireille's Learning Circle November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Hi Amy
    this looks like a fun project. I do have two questions.
    1. Can you use plastic pots instead of Terra cotta clay pots – minimizing breaking
    2. Why the Thompson’s Water Seal spray
    inside the pots?

    thanks Amy
    Toronto, Canada

  87. Pam February 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Love this idea. Very nice looking. Thanks for sharing.

  88. katy March 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    I can’t wait to make this, thank you for sharing.

  89. Christa March 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Love this idea so much I featured it on my blog at:
    Originally found it through pinterest. It looks so good and ready for spring.
    Thanks for sharing!

  90. Rachael S March 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    I love the colors you used. And the tips on what flowers to use was great, thank you for sharing!

  91. Lazenby Family News March 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh my gosh Amy! You live in Conway? My daughter loves gardening and just lives up the road in Mayflower. Her husband is a “Master Gardener” and I’m hearing your weather this morning is beautiful. My daughter just sent a darling picture of a lovely light green Lunar Moth. It was resting this Spring morning on her window pane and looked like it was a stained -glass window. So glad I was looking for your planters and love them.

  92. Lazenby Family News March 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Oh my gosh Amy! You live in Conway? My daughter loves gardening and just lives up the road in Mayflower. Her husband is a “Master Gardener” and I’m hearing your weather this morning is beautiful. My daughter just sent a darling picture of a lovely light green Lunar Moth. It was resting this Spring morning on her window pane and looked like it was a stained -glass window. So glad I was looking for your planters and love them.

  93. Lindsey April 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Great idea! Thanks for giving me a weekend project! Now, to plan my pots! Yiiipeee!

  94. L April 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    This was such a great idea! I did this this this weekend. I loved the tips about the filler & spiller. I linked to your post here:

    I hope it’s okay, because mine turned out fabulous & I can’t thank you enough for the terrific idea!

  95. Lisa May 16, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    This is absolutely lovely!! Thank you so much for sharing and for the wonderful step-by-step! After reading your post, I decided to try making one for my Mom for Mother’s Day, she absolutely LOVED it!! Thank you so much for the inspiration!!!

  96. AFP May 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    LOOOVEEEE this! I made my own the other day. I will be featuring this on my blog tomorrow
    and will be sure to share your site. Thanks a bunch!

  97. Molly July 23, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    These are really amazing! I don’t know how I haven’t stumbled across your blog yet, but now that I’m here I can’t wait to read through your ideas 🙂 Thanks for sharing these!

  98. Marjolein March 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    I love the colors! Bright and they make me want it to be spring NOW. I can’t wait to do this project.

  99. Ciera May 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    I love this. I was wondering what size your pots are? I love the size of these. But don’t want to waste money on guessing the right size when you have the size perfect. :).

  100. Ciera May 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    I love this. I was wondering what size your pots are? I love the size of these. But don’t want to waste money on guessing the right size when you have the size perfect. :). registered & protected

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