WWII Military Mess Tray Planter




About: Loving mom of two beautiful boys, obsessive compulsive confetti user & passionate foodie!

In honor of Memorial Day and all the men & women who have sacrificed their lives for our country, I have created a planter using an authentic WWII military mess tray. I picked the trays up at an Antique fair in Alameda, CA., which irionacally is on old Naval Base. These tray's were used in the 40's either by the Army or Navy. 



Metal Drill Bit

2 Mess Tray's - authentic ones are available on eBay. Reproduction's are available on Amazon. 

Assorted Succulents & Cactus

Assorted Grasses, Moss & Thyme


Safety Goggles




WWII Military Mess Tray Planter: 

To create the planter, mark each section of the tray with a Sharpie to indicate where you want the drain holes. Next, take the tray outside and place it in the dirt. Use a drill to drill holes where you have marked the tray. These holes will allow for proper drainage. These are made of really heavy duty stainless steel and it took a lot of man (women) power to drill the holes. I had to use my feet and step on the tray to drill some of the holes.

After you have drilled the holes, place the second tray underneath the one with the drilled holes. Remove the succulents and place them into each section of the mess tray as desired. Make sure you use cactus soil or an all purpose soil. You don't have much room to place the plants so you need to make sure you press down on the soil to secure the succulents. I decided to use some grasses that require shade. Unlike succulents that can withstand full sun, these grasses will start to deteriorate after a while. Eventually, you will need to switch them out. 

I recommend putting the pebbles on last and I used a funnel to pour the sand on top of the succulents & cacti that have soil underneath. 

This is a great way to put these pieces of history to use. 

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    11 Discussions


    6 years ago

    Awesome idea. Is that enough soil for the plants to thrive?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I put as much soil as I could in each compartment. I think the succulents will be fine. Some of the grasses will need to be switched out in a couple weeks. I'll post an update in a month or so.