Introduction: Plastic Cup Planter

This is a small indoor planter I made to grow a few plants in my sunroom, I have already made a longer version which holds 7 plants and it seems to be working out very well and I think it looks pretty good, well better than a bunch of plastic cups and trays scattered around the room. I decided to make this smaller one with the leftover material from the first which is the same dimensions just shorter. On these planters I went with disposable plastic cups with holes drilled at the bottom for drainage, to contain the soil, and to make it easier to transplant outside if I decide to plant some starter plants this year. The cups are held up from the bottom of the box by the lip on the cup to allow the water to evaporate easily, the box is painted and sealed with caulk on the inside to prevent water damage. For the front I made some chalkboard signs, which come off easily to write on, so I know what I have planted and where. I was thinking of using mason jars, but I feel the drainage and transplanting would be an issue. I have seen a lot of mason jar planters, even some sold in stores with the seeds and soil all together which is very convenient, I may make a planter using jars in the future for a small herb garden, but for now I like this setup for transplanting.

Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials

Tools Required:

Table Saw and Sled (Circular saw and miter saw would work too)


Tape measure

1/8in drill bit

3/32in drill bit

Phillips bit or Screwdriver

Countersink bit (I use these, not great but they work)

Some sandpaper 120 grit

Tack cloth or paper towels


Drill Press


Materials and Hardware:

2' x 2' Sheet of 1/2" sanded plywood

2' x 2' Sheet of 1/4" sanded plywood (You will need much less than this, a 4"x12" piece is all that's needed)

3 - 18oz Plastic cups (ie Hefty,Solo. I used leftover ones from christmas. Just make sure that the diameter of the rim is 3 3/4" and the height is 4 3/4in for this project)

14 - 1 1/4" Drywall Screws

3 - 7/8" Cup hooks (Got these from walmart for $.97)

A small bag of potting soil

Drywall Spackling (I used the small container of the pink stuff)

Paintable Caulk (I used this, anything on hand will probably work)

Spray paint or outdoor latex paint, any color you wish

Chalk Board Paint (This seemed to work)

Safety Equipment:

Make sure to use eye and ear protection while using power tools and a mask while sanding and painting.

Step 2: Cutting Wood and Hole Drilling

On your table saw, or by using a circular saw and strait edge, start by ripping two strips of the 1/2in plywood to 5 5/8in, then rip a strip at 3 5/8in, next rip a strip of 1/4in plywood to 3 3/4in.

Now using your table saw sled or miter saw cut one of the 5 5/8in strips to 16in and with the scrap cut it to 3 5/8in, repeat this for the other 5 5/8in strip. Next stack the two pieces of 5 5/8in x 3 3/4in on top of each other and measure the thickness, 1/2in ply is not always the exact thickness, mine came to 15/16in. Now take your 3 5/8in strip and cut it to 16in minus the thickness, in my case 15/16in, so 15 15/16in. With the 1/4in strip cut 3 pieces at 3 3/4 making 3 squares

On to the drilling, take one of the 1/4in squares and mark a center line through it with a pencil should be at 1 7/8in measure from both sides to make certain, from that line come down from the top 1/4in and mark it. Take it to the drill press with the 1/8in bit in and drill that point through, I'd recommend using a scrap piece underneath the piece to prevent chipout on the backside. Now take this piece and use it as a guide for the other two squares making sure to line up the sides as you are drilling. You can use a drill for this step if you don't have a press.

Now to pre drilling the holes for the hooks. Take one of the 16 x 5 5/8in strips and mark a line down from the top 1in, then find and mark the center of that line, should be 8in, like I said before make sure to check from the other side as well. Next from the center point measure out and mark in both directions 5 5/16in, this will make the tags evenly spaced. If you'd like to know how I came up with this measurement use sketchup and try messing around with the divide function on the lines. If you have a drill press drill the points with the 3/32in bit, if you purchased different hooks make sure to use the correct bit for the threads, also make sure not to drill all the way through the wood just the depth of the screws on the hooks. If you are just using a drill I'd recommend marking the depth of the bit with a piece of tape.

Now onto the assembly.

Step 3: Assembling the Box

Start by taking one of your long pieces, decide which side looks better and face that towards the outside and attach a short side piece to it by pre drilling two 1/8in holes towards the top and bottom of the box and countersink the holes for the drywall screws, this is where clamping the pieces comes in handy. Next insert the screws and tighten with a screwdriver to prevent over tightening, repeat these steps for the other side piece and the back. The bottom is the same process using three screws on each side, one in the middle and one on each end. You could also use some wood glue before screwing to have a stronger bond and seal, but I prefer to avoid the mess and gumming up sandpaper. Then seal the inside corners with some caulk, use your finger to smooth it down and have a damp rag or paper towel to wipe the excess from your finger, and now wait for the caulk to dry.

Step 4: Prepping and Painting

After the caulk has set, take some spackling and fill the screw holes and gaps in the edges of the plywood. Allow that to dry, then sand smooth with some 120 grit sandpaper, repeat if you find anymore gaps after sanding. Follow this same step with the small squares as well. Wipe off the dust with a tack cloth or dry paper towel, make sure not to use water as it will raise the grain of the wood. Paint the squares with the chalkboard paint and the box any color of your choosing following the directions on the paint container.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Once your paint has dried completely insert the hooks into the predrilled holes making sure they face up on the final turn. Use chalk on your chalkboard pieces to label what you are planting and put them on the hooks. With your plastic cups drill a few holes at the bottom of the cup to allow drainage and then fill them with some potting soil, the cups lip should rest at the top rim of the box preventing it from touching the bottom. Your box should be complete, if I have missed anything please let me know, this is my first instructable so bear with me. I hope you enjoyed this instructable and if you made it I hope you enjoy your planter, thanks.

Rainy Day Challenge

Participated in the
Rainy Day Challenge

Brave the Elements Contest

Participated in the
Brave the Elements Contest

Plywood Contest

Participated in the
Plywood Contest