Introduction: Tip-Top Flower Pots: Maximize Limited Space to Grow Plants and Flowers!

Picture of Tip-Top Flower Pots: Maximize Limited Space to Grow Plants and Flowers!

This cool project will allow you to take advantage of even the tiniest place to grow flowers and plants- on patios, decks, balconies, etc. These supplies are easy to find (some recycled from your friends, family, and garage) and the final product is unique and spectacular. Your friends will be asking you "How did you do that?"

Step 1: Gather Your Materials.

Picture of Gather Your Materials.
OK, either dig through your stash of flower pots or make a trip to your local home improvement store (or your mom's house) and gather what you need:

1 12" flower pot
1 saucer to go under the base pot (optional)
4 8" flower pots*
1 4' garden stake (sturdy- steel covered in plastic- I got mine at Wal-Mart)
20" of 1/2" PVC or similar (look around in your garage- you don't need much)
Potting soil
Flowers/plants- I planted 3-4 four-inch flower squares on each tier

  • I used plain terra cotta pots- I wouldn't recommend using the azalea terra cotta pots. Your pots MUST have the drainage hole on the bottom.

Step 2: Cut the Stake to the Desired Length

Picture of Cut the Stake to the Desired Length

Cut the stake to an approximate length of 42". I used a small, fine-toothed saw for this.

Step 3: Cut the PVC.

Picture of Cut the PVC.

With a mitre saw or other saw, cut the PVC into the desired lengths. Depending on the shape of your 12" pot, you may need to experiment with this a little.

You will need two lengths of pipe, one slightly (1" or so) larger than the other. I ended up cutting mine to 8.5 and 9.5 inches. I also cut these at an angle so the ends would taper slightly to fit more snugly in the pot.

Make sure your shorter pipe fits in the bottom of the 12" pot (without touching the bottom) and make sure the longer pipe fits over (and perpendicular to) the shorter pipe without touching it.

Step 4: Drill Holes in the Exact Center of the PVC.

Picture of Drill Holes in the Exact Center of the PVC.

These holes will hold the stake in place, so make sure they are nice and perpendicular. A drill press would work best here, but I used a hand drill.

Start with a small drill bit, then gradually change it out to get large enough for the stake to fit through but still snug.

Step 5: Assemble the Stake and PVC.

Picture of Assemble the Stake and PVC.

Insert the stake through both PVC sections, being sure that the PVC sections are perpendicular to one another. The stake should go all the way through the bottom PVC section and into the drainage hole so that it is flush with the surface underneath the 12" pot.

Make sure the stake is standing as straight as possible. Adjust as needed.

Step 6: Decide Where You Will Assemble Your Stacked Pots!

It is so much easier to build this at the location where it will live rather than move it! Because this stands a little under 4' tall, you may want to put it out of the wind, up near a wall if possible!

Step 7: Alternately Stack the Pots.

Picture of Alternately Stack the Pots.

Fill the bottom 12" pot with soil leaving room for the first 8" pot to rest on the soil and on the edge of the large pot as shown. You may need to wet the soil a little and pack the soil down tight. Adjust the stake as needed so that it points as straight up as possible.

Place the first 8" pot by inserting the stake through the drainage hole. Let the pot rest on the dirt and the edge of the 12" pot. Continue filling the 12" pot, packing soil around the 8" leaning pot. Leave a 2" gap between the soil and the edge of the pot.

Add soil to the leaning 8" pot. Leave a 2" gap between the soil and the edge of the pot. Pack the soil around the stake (you may need to add a little water).

At this point (contrary to what the picture shows) it is advisable to go ahead and plant the flowers in the large 12" pot.

Plant the flowers in the 8" leaning pot. Then add the second leaning pot onto the stake. This pot should lean 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the pot beneath it and should rest on the edge of the one beneath it.

Continue adding soil/flowers then add the leaning pots.

You may need to adjust the position of the top pot to negate any leaning of the stake.

Step 8: Enjoy- and Be Prepared for Questions From Curious Friends and Family!

Picture of Enjoy- and Be Prepared for Questions From Curious Friends and Family!

Enjoy your creation- and the smile on the face of the person for whom you made it. It truly is beautiful and unique.

Total cost for this project, including flowers:

Pots/saucer: $22
Stake: $2
Soil: $4
Flowers: $15
PVC: $0 (I had some short pieces laying around the garage)

Total: $43

Total time: about 90 minutes

You can vary this by adding only 3 top pots, painting the pots, or getting fiberglass pots (with drainage holes).

When your friends ask you how you did it, just direct them back here!


PamC32 (author)2016-04-04

Hi, Is the pvc just to direct the rebar through?

jokerswild01 (author)2015-10-09

Made this with 8" pots and 1/2 rebar - drove 8' into the ground just for overkill purposes. I did not utilize the bottom pot, rather just started with the bottom pot angled with the ground - doesn't seem to bother anything. Works great for herbs - water from the top and it trickles down - nice build.

ClaireNasa (author)2015-08-24

is it too late to thank you?

I hope not, thank you, I'll be trying this out today as I have 500 x 7 cm planted pots that I need to sell.

scoutsbff (author)2013-06-04

I wonder...could this work with a Shepherd's hook style hanging basket stand? I'm gonna try that.

mduncan8 (author)scoutsbff2014-04-14

Hey I read this ... did the Shephard hook work

racoontnn (author)2014-01-20

From the outside it seems somehow trick. And in fact, turns out to be simple and functional. Thank you!

orchidselect (author)2013-05-28

I live in a ground floor apartment in Reno, NV, zone 7, (I believe), my neighbor cut down the large shrub that was shading my west wall, I can only plant in a long, narrow container

orchidselect (author)2013-05-12

Very nice I'm also trying to grow flowers in pots

love2die100 (author)2012-05-07

thx4sharing,my neighbour has one the same assembled here but instead of using plants can you convert it into fountain,when yes how.

emad_sh (author)2011-02-13

Very Nice and Easy
thanks for sharing.

ismailkumar (author)2011-01-03

i.m.p.- point

alanfindaly (author)2010-11-09

Wow, this is a great way to use all of the clay pots I have laying around. I'll have to go out and buy some shop flowers , but it will be worth it if it turns out as nice as the pictures here look.

brennawalters (author)2010-07-03

I bet that if you used sturdy pvc for the center post, and drilled holes intermittantly along its length, you could use a funnel to water all your plants through the center. No evaporation loss! You would arrange your most water-loving plants on the bottom, with the more dry-climate plants on top. From mint on the bottom to cacti on the top!

taia82 (author)2010-05-16

To make this more sturdy, I would recommend that you got a threaded galvanized pipe and a floor flange. You could then attach it to a piece of small board, or you can screw it right to the floor. It would keep it upright, so you would just have to re-arrange the pots if they get blown around.

chalky (author)2009-08-11

heres mine:)

Nancy52 (author)2009-08-07

Ok!!!!!!! Like daaaa Nancy. That does make a lot of sense. There is one of the tip-top flower pots here in town and they are always rearranging it after the wind blows hard. Also could you just put the vertical pole through the drain hole in the bottom 12" pot and into the ground and just skip the dish under the bottom pot? If so, would you still need the PVC in bottom pot? I was thinking of using an electric fence post to run through the whole thing. It fits through the holes. I already tried that fit. Thanks for your replys.

jholland (author)2009-08-06

UPDATE: While away on vacation, high winds swept through town, bending my pole, and sending my flower pots crashing to the ground. At least that's what the neighbor told us. Fortunately, she re-potted the flowers and saved them. I'll make another one I suppose- and may anchor this one a little better- and may use a more sturdy pole!

Nancy52 (author)2009-08-04

What is the purpose of the PVC pipe in the bottom of 12" pot?

jholland (author)Nancy522009-08-06

That holds/anchors the vertical pole in place. Without it, the pole will slide around in the loose dirt.

jaded30720 (author)2009-07-05

I really do like this project. One lady made hers into a herb garden which is what I would like to do. Kudos.

aklesh3 (author)2009-07-04

Here's the one I made. Being in Florida, it drys out really fast, so that when you water it, you have to water it sloooooooooow, or the water just runs off.

blackturtle (author)2009-06-16

This is so awesome! I think I need one (or 7) for around my house! thanks for sharing!

jeffrey1965 (author)2009-06-10

I did one for my wife for Easter. Everything is growing well and it looks nice.

IDmom (author)2009-05-27

How do the holes need to be drilled for the stake to go through causing the pots to lean? I'm sure the hole and stake placements have something to do with making the pots lean, but I can't picture it. Please explain for this newbie, thanks!

jholland (author)IDmom2009-06-06

I used pots with drainage holes already since drilling these holes in terra cotta may prove difficult to do without cracking the pot. If you are going to drill the holes yourself in terra cotta, I would suggest soaking the pot in water for a couple hours before hand and using a small drill bit working your way up to larger bits. The holes should be in the center of the pots on the bottom. As long as the holes are large enough, the pots will naturally lean. Does that make since?

wgoble (author)2009-05-30

Awesome! I think we'll be building one of these over the weekend.

RoBear613 (author)2009-05-27

I could see getting a lot more strawberry plant in this (and therefore more strawberries) than a "strawberry pot" for the same price. Take your bowl of corn flakes out to the patio and enjoy.

luckysuzy (author)2009-05-26

Love it! I made mine into an herb garden. It is awesome and very easy to do! Thanks for the instructable!

fleurdejava (author)2009-04-21

very nice and clever! I did it yesterday, it costs only 8 euros for the 5 pots (I leave in France). Thank you so much.

fleurdejava (author)fleurdejava2009-04-22

In my garden, in France

jholland (author)fleurdejava2009-04-22

That turned out great!

gaz9448 (author)2009-04-20

built one over the weekend thanks to your instructable. i used stuff which i'd saved from previous fun and used these instead so might not be as sturdy. I used a metal pole, that used to be part of one of those cheap canvas marquees you can get, as the canvas didn't hold up to a full season. the pots weren't all terracotta, but looked nice and have the drainage including an old wine cooler with the bottom partly drilled out. fantastic mate.

jholland (author)gaz94482009-04-21

I'd like to see a picture of that- sounds interesting!

alphaseinor (author)2009-04-21

I'm in the contest as well, and I voted for you! Very nice instructable, and a good use of space!

Maureclaire (author)2009-04-17

Fabulous ! Gotta do it ! I'm thinking if I put it on the ground, won't need pvc pipe at all, and just have stake go well into ground, won't even need to cut it.. Even easier ! Thanks for idea !

lady4feet (author)2009-04-17

I love it! I saw something similar at the flea market but they wanted $22 for just the pole. Now I can make my onw, thank you.

yngla (author)2009-04-17

Great instructable! This idea is so cool and the end result is stunning!

majeral (author)2009-04-17

This is great!!! and easy and cheap ( Can't spell inexpensive ) I saw something years ago on a home improvement show that took a tomato cage and made it into a stand to hold poinsettia They never showed how to do it. Thanks again Vie !

knittinandnoodlin (author)2009-04-17

Great instructable! I just bought a kit for this at the Philadelphia Flower Show - such a cool idea to stack flower pots! Your instructions/photos are really clear - good work!

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-04-15

very clever!

Rustar (author)2009-04-15

Reminds me of something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Broom (author)2009-04-15

Great idea! I'm betting you meant a 4' stake, and not a 4" pole.

jholland (author)Broom2009-04-15

I did! And as soon as I figure out how to edit that step I will change it. Thanks for pointing it out!

PizzaPlanet (author)2009-04-15

amazing idea

Aimless (author)2009-04-15

Sweet idea, I'm going to try it out this summer :)

gmjhowe (author)2009-04-14

A simple idea that actually looks alot more complicated! Great work.

tink1272 (author)2009-04-14

I love this! It's very cute, would make a great gift and is perfect when you only have a 3x6 patio! Thanks!

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