During a recent lunch at my uncle's, I spotted a cute collection of bottle cork planters in his fridge. They looked amazing and held a good variety of plants. They were very similar to those described in this instructable.
The ones containing cacti looked a lot like tiny people with big hats, so we got inspired and decided to remix the original plain design by making them look like well-known figures. A couple of good options are an Irish leprechaun and a British Queen's Guard, which you can see in the pictures.
They are easy to make and the plants will last if properly chosen and handled, and of course look great on your fridge door (or standing anywhere else), making them a great present idea!
Step 1: Materials
The materials and tools you need are inexpensive and easy to find:
- Cork: any bottle cork will do. Wine corks are usually thinner, so they're good for small plants. Thicker options are champagne/cava/prosecco corks, which we used for this instructable. You can buy and drink (:-) the bottle to get the cork or simply ask at a local bar or restaurant where it's likely they have some lying around.
- Plants: you want small, durable and resilient plants, such as succulent plants and cacti. We used some of these.
- Organic soil: for the plants to grow on. Get it from a garden store or go outside and collect some.
- Small magnet: small neodymium magnets work great, we got ours from a discarded DVD/CD drive, several can be found near the lens.
- Knife: to make the holes. Nothing special, just not very thick so you can dig deep enough. If you own a rotary tool, it'll make things even easier!
- Acrylic paint and brush: the colours of your choice, small brush as dimensions are small.
- Glue: we used instant glue.
Step 2: Drill the Holes and Glue the Magnet
Once you have your selected cork and plant, you need to drill a vertical hole through the middle and a small hole for the magnet on the back.
- The size and depth of the hole depend on the plant, have a look at its roots and allow enough space. Just with a knife or screwdriver is easy to remove small bits and carefully carve the hole. If you own a rotary tool, it's even easier with a small drill bit for example.
- Measure your magnet and cut a shallow hole near the bottom of the cork. When you are happy with the size, just glue the magnet inside the hole.
Step 3: Design and Paint the Cork
As mentioned earlier, we chose to make an Irish leprechaun and a British Queen's Guard due to their big and funny hats, which can be easily resembled with cacti!
First of all, prime all the cork with white paint so that the colours look brighter afterwards, you may need a couple of layers depending on your paints.
To make the design, search online for your preferred character and try to sketch a simple design in a piece of paper. Then translate the design to the cork using a pen. Keeping things big and simple will look great!
Once the design is sketched in the cork, it's time to paint it. Acrylic paint is a good choice, use several layers to get deep, bright colours. Let the paint dry between layers, 15min should suffice.
For the leprechaun, we added a brim to the hat using green fabric. Just cut a ring of fabric of the right size and glue it to the cork around the hole where the plant will be.
Step 4: Prepare the Plant and Put It in the Cork
Both cacti and succulent plants are usually found in tight clusters: several plants put together in the same planter. Separating the chosen plant can be dead simple or tricky depending on the actual plant.
Try not to break the roots, take the plant carefully and crush the soil to expose the roots. Then try to separate the plant causing the least damage.
Fill the cork with as much soil as you need, and then carefully introduce the plant. Press firmly to compact the soil.
Step 5: Maintenance
Now that it's ready, the only thing left is to take care of the plants so they last a long time.
Different plants have different water requirements, so it's a good idea to check online for your particular choice. Cacti and succulent plants are tough and don't need a lot of care. As a rule of thumb, water them once a week when the soil is dry, and maybe use a syringe or dropper.
There's luck involved in the plant thriving or dying out, so if you don't manage to keep one alive, try again!
Hope you have enjoyed this instructable and looking forward to seeing your comments and designs!