Miniature Magnetic Planter From Recycled Parts

About: Proud father of 2 girls (2.5 and 1.5 years old as of May 2018). Enjoy writing, making things, and hoarding cats.

This project recycles some trash from around the house to make a small magnetic planter. The two planters photographed for this Instructable were for coworkers and we are not allowed to have live plants in the office, so artificial plants were used. It can easily be modified to house an air plant or a live plant (I find succulents work best for this).

Since the planter is magnetic it will obviously need a ferrous structure to stick to. Office cubicles and refrigerators both work great for this!

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

To build the planter we will need a few materials:

  • A small rare earth magnet (the black ones from a craft store will not work). I save these from hard drives or other things I disassemble.
  • A cork or piece of wood to make the planter body out of. For scale the cork in this project was about 1.5"x.75" and the stick was about 1.75"x.875".
  • A plant to put in the planter*
  • Some epoxy to mount the magnet to the planter
  • * If you choose to go the live plant route you will need some sort of soil appropriate for the plant.

The tools that I used were:

  • A drill and drill bits
  • A pen or pencil
  • A utility knife or chisel

Some optional items are:

  • Moss (not really needed if you do a live plant, I find it strange looking with a succulent)
  • A hot glue gun and glue
  • A vice or other way to hold your workpiece
  • Scrap leather or cloth to prevent the exterior from being damaged if you use a vice
  • Nitrile or similar glove(s) for the epoxy
  • A rag or paper towel to clean up the epoxy

Step 2: Mark the Recess for the Magnet

If you are using a vice or similar put the cork (or stick) into it and just snug it up enough to hold it in place. Then set your magnet down on top of the cork and mark out the area you need to hollow out. A pencil is better suited for this because if you are using a pen the metallic tip will want to grab the magnet and cause you no end of hassle.

Step 3: Hollow Out the Recess and Check the Fit

If you have the option between a circular magnet and any other shape I would recommend the circle. A few seconds with a drill and this step is done. If you have a different shape you will need to use the chisel and/or utility knife to carve out the recess. In the cork I find the utility knife to be better for the stop cuts, the finer blade seems to tear out less of the cork. Then I use the chisel to remove the material inside the stop cuts.

Once you have the recess cut to the appropriate depth do a test fit to make sure everything fits flush. If the magnet gets stuck inside the cork any metal tool that is laying nearby will pop it right out for you.

Step 4: Epoxy the Magnets in Place

After everything has been test fitted, it is time to glue it all up. Mix up your epoxy according to the instructions and fill the void in the cork. Once that is done drop the magnets in place, push them down to seat them flush, and wipe up any excess with a spare rag or paper towel. If you have gloves this step would be the time to use them.

Then leave your item to cure according to your epoxy. If you are unaware you really don't want to get this all over the place.

Step 5: Drill Out the Cavity for the Plant Stem

After the epoxy has cured re-orient your planter in the vice so that it is vertical. Find and mark the center. Then drill the planter out to the desired diameter. If you are using a fake plant you can measure this for a snug fit. With a real plant, I hollow it out a lot more to give some room for the root system.

With cork I like to start with a really small bit and progress up to the size I want, this seems to help with tearing out giant chunks. With a stick, I try and drill in the center tree ring, not necessarily dead center. I have no idea if this helps but in my mind, it makes it less prone to cracking or breaking.

If you are using a plant that will bush out in all directions you might want to offset the hole opposite of the magnet, to give some clearance in the back.

Step 6: Add Your Plant

If you are using an artificial plant and are adding moss for a more finished look, skip to the next step. Otherwise:

Just shove the plant in. Some hot glue in the hole before adding the plant is an optional insurance policy, but if it is a tight fit you can skip the glue if you want to.

For a live plant, you will need to fill the cavity up with whatever substrate your plant likes, then set the plant in and top off the soil. A precision or similar sized flathead screwdriver can help you to deliver the soil in the small area without making a giant mess. I also like to put a grain of osmocote into the soil since the plant is likely never going to be fertilized otherwise. Unfortunately, since these planters were not for live plants I have no pictures of this step, but it is easy to figure out. Mainly just be sure to tamp the dirt down enough that the roots can find purchase and be gentle until it has taken root so the plant doesn't fall out.

Step 7: Optional: Add Moss Around the Base of the Plant

For a live plant I find this step unnecessary, but for an artificial plant, I think it helps the planter look more complete. You just want to get a small piece of moss and hot glue it onto the planter. I usually put a sheet of moss that slightly overlaps the top edges of the planter. Then I poke a hole for the plant stem to go through, add some hot glue to hold the plant in place and shove the plant in.

Then you can arrange and/or trim the moss to your liking.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable. These are a quick and fun little project that make great gifts!

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