Introduction: Mandrake Planter

About: I'm a Designer, Creator, Inventor. #1 Hobby - brainstorming. I invented the Unicorn Poop cookie, as published here on instructables. And now I am a metalsmith. <3

Welcome to my little Mandrake Planter tutorial! Perhaps its more of a "hack" but you end up with a planter, so that's all that matters. :D

This is all based on a wine box from Amazon! I have been looking for all kinds of tall planters, I wanted it to be wooden, not $80 and look awesome at the same time. In order to get to that point, I had to deconstruct the wine box and add appendages to create the look I wanted. This can be used just as a tall planter, in general! You don't need to have a mandrake, you can have any plant in here. :) Just make modifications to fit your needs.

The Mandrake needs a deep planter because the roots grow and change and love to have freedom to roam. Depth is more important than width, as I have learned, but you also want to make sure they have some space. I love this as a planter because, depending on monitored growth, this could last from 6 months to 3 years. Just check your mandrake to see what it needs. Once they start growing, if the root taps out at the bottom and hits a "floor", it will wind up making a u-turn and coiling up onto itself where it can. It can still be happy and grow, but, why limit it? :)


Wine Box from Amazon (best price)
4 Feet (knobs)
2 Handles (handles/drawer pulls) -- actual ones i used
Drill (to drill holes/undo screws)
1/2" long screws (for handles)

NOTE: feet/handles/etc I found at Hobby Lobby. They have a huge aisle full of knobs, pulls, hooks, etc. And they often have a 50% off sale in that section, so that's when I bought knobs and handles to make 4 of these planters. I'm sure you can go to amazon or some local hardware store and find things that fit the purpose, but the craft store was better. ONE - because of the sale! and Two - because of the styles and OPTIONS. So many options!!! hahah. It's a wonderland for your steam-punked-out planter.

Step 1: Prepare the Planter

Undo the fact that it's a wine box! Take the lid and all the hardware off (not decorations). There were some .. rims around the edges that were just stapled cheap wood. Well, the whole thin is fragile cheap wood. LOL. But these things annoyed me so I ripped them off. Try to rip staples off, with them.

Save the adorable hardware and save the lids. Later down the line, you may want to use the lid as an "extension" for the mandrake if it requires more depth. For this, you will just need to create an opening in the top of the lid, it's assembled strangely, so you will have to drill holes and delicately jigsaw it or something., then attach with a wood brace that holds the extension to the main body, inside the planter. Later it will fill with dirt and rocks and won't be seen.

Fastest to remove hardware with drill lol.

Step 2: Drill the Holes! :D

Start with the four corners for the feet. Space them out in the same kinda manner from each corner, so the foot looks nice once it's installed.

BE GENTLE WHILE DRILLING. You can plow right through this papery-wood if you man-handle it too much lol. Or put too much pressure on your drill. Just let it do it's thing and go lightly so you can catch it before it plunges through.

Drill bit size! - Choose one that is practically the size of the knob screw thing. Then, you will end up with such a snug fit, screwing the knob down into the wood, that it will snug itself. You can use the washer and the nut, inside to secure it.

Once you have feet holes, install the feet. It's okay if the washer won't go on there, because it could be too big of a diameter to fit where you chose to drill the hole. Just use the nut to secure it if that happens. Don't worry about trimming the metal after.

Next, drill drainage holes. Since it's a single-mandrake planter, just keep them generally in the middle, but a good distance apart so you don't weaken the bottom. GENTLE. haha

Step 3: Install Your Handles

My husband loves star tip bits, so he got these screws. I really don't care what shape the hole is, as long as it works. hahah. So you don't need these, but you DO need short, 1/2" screws.

These are self-tapping so it didn't require drilling, awesome!

The handles that I chose, kinda lay funny on the wood, not flush. But I made-do. I kinda centered it and started one screw, then went to the other side and did the same. The mixture of the off-flush handles and the 1/2" screws made for a perfect fit though. They were able to pull tight (wood and handle) and just barely poke inside the planter. PLUS, they support a lot of weight, so I love this combo.

If you want to flush it up, go ahead, it may be easier to mount the handle, but also take more time. This method was great. :D

For height of handles , if you're using these for Mandrakes, there will be a lot of dirt and rocks inside, so it will get heavy. You want to make the handles *not* at the top and not at the middle. I go "low top". So it balances when carrying and feels good.I just centered the handle between the decorative upholstery tacks.

Step 4: Filler' Up!

Now it's time to build up the substrate. At the bottom, the very first thing I use is lava rock. You can use normal rocks if that's all you have. I just think that lava rocks are awesome and that they have less mass to them, so they may be a little lighter than the specific gravity of normal rocks.

The rocks are used as drainage, the water can filter down through the rough and rocky soil, down into a rock bed, and then out. You can't have any still water in there with your Mandrake Root. The dampness can rot and kill them, so always use well-draining soil, like cactus mix. Plus other aggregates. I need to do a Mandrake Growing Instructable. :)

So, rocks, then dirt mix, then layer in some minerals and lime along the way as you're building up the dirt. Once you've done this, you will appreciate those little handles. :D

Step 5: Time to Add the Magick

My mandrakes start out in a nursery that we built. It's basically a deep box with holes in the bottom. We had 9 mandrakes left that needed to be transplanted from the nursery. Because it's summer, they are going dormant and their leaves are dying off. You want to transplant them during a growth period, while they are green and happy. But I was catching these guys a little late, so I hope they don't get mad at me and stay dormant for longer than necessary.

Oren was the first to be transplanted because he only had one leaf left and it was yellow! YIKES. Poor thing. Then I moved on down the line and ended up transplanting 5 into 4 of these planters. One of them was a double wine box and I just bought that one because it was "used" on Amazon, and cheaper haha. So whomever adopts that planter will have two babies to care for. :) I can't keep them all, but I love growing them. I think the mandrakes chose me and they are changing me. I was never a plant keeper before LOL. But these guys are much more than plants.

Upon transplanting, they don't understand their new soil and environment and their roots aren't incorporated to sip up the water yet. When this happens, they kinda wilt and go emo for a while. This can be a few hours to a few days. Depending on temperatures, etc. In May, they only were weepy for the day, and perked up the next. But now that it's July, and hotter than EVER, lol, they are not liking the heat, they are being reminded of the heat, and they will most likely turn yellow, to brown, then die off. (The leaves). Then the root will go dormant, the crown will scab over. When cooler weather hits, the new leaves pierce through the scabbed crown and start life again. :) I haven't experienced this yet, because these are my first babies and they are just going dormant for the first time. Strangely enough, I have more that are "awake" than I have dormant. Not sure what's going on there lol.

(There is one pic with BIG planters and these little guys in front.) Those taller/bigger planters are what we are making to house 4 mandrakes at a time. They are basically square towers with the same concept. I think I may do an instructable on that also, because tall planters to BUY - horrible amount of money lol.

I made a prototype for a name plate, but I think it's too small, so I will be improving the design. Also, while transplanting, I try to take pics of each root to look back at. It would be super smart if I sorted them so I knew who-was-who at what stage. But that's 25 plants to keep track of, thus far. I'm starting to prepare some of the babies to go onto new homes, and that's why I've designed this planter. They will leave my care with a photo before they were planted, and a final name plate. I have to devise a pocket of leather to put on the side, front or back, to tuck the photos and notes into. :) (For their new plant parents.)

If you're interested in growing your own mandrakes, just know that you need to be in it for the long run. They are needly little brats and they will stress YOU out. hahah. There is an entire process to growing them and preparing the seeds before sowing, but that will be for another instructable. :) Well, they aren't brats. They are powerful, mythical creatures that have real-life-ways of letting you know how they feel. That's magical. But they still worry me because I care a lot about them. :D If you're interested in where my seeds came from - here is the link ! They came from a very happy place, beautiful lineage and a talented collector of mandrakes. Plus, he's an author. :D

Thanks guys, hopefully this was fun to look at. <3

OH, PS, they are poisonous. I should have said that a long time ago lol. Be respectful of them, understand that they aren't a toy or a trip, they can kill you. :)

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