Shane Powers is a Brooklyn-based stylist, designer, and the author of the beautiful new book, Bring the Outdoors In. For this this week’s How-Tuesday post, he shares tips for making a sparkling gem of a planter.
This crystal-encrusted planter proves that common houseplants don’t have to be dowdy; it is possible to dress them up in some finery. In creating this project I was inspired by the great garden grottoes of 16th-century Italy and France, which featured shells and faux geological compositions, and I wanted to bring their outdoor beauty inside. Hypoestes phyllostachya, or polka-dot plant, is widely available at garden centers and home improvement stores — I prefer the pink variety, which has radical patterning on its leaves, as a more unusual alternative to green foliage.
10″ x 10″ x 2¾” (25 cm x 25 cm x 7 cm) cement or ceramic planter
Sobo craft glue
3½ lb (1.5 kg) jar of clear sea glass crystals (1¹?8 in/2.5 cm size pieces) for planter exterior
5 cups (1 liter) of gravel for drainage
Activated horticultural carbon
Peat moss-based potting soil
3 pink Hypoestes phyllostachya (polka dot plants)
Additional optional ground cover decorations*:
3½ lb (1.5 kg) jar of clear sea glass crystals (1¹?8″/2.5 cm size pieces)
3½ lb (1.5 kg) of light pink sea glass crystals (1 ¹?8″/2.5 cm size pieces)
1 or 2 larger decorative crystals
* Note: As listed, these are the smallest amounts available for these items, but you will not use the entire quantity. Save the extras for other projects.
1. Working on one side of the planter at a time, glue the clear glass crystals to the outer walls and allow each side to dry before moving on to the next. To begin, stand the planter on one of its sides (the sea glass will adhere better on a flat surface). Working from the base up to the top edge, begin gluing the clear glass crystals to the exterior, fitting irregular pieces into place as you go. Once the side is completely covered, fill in with smaller pieces and be sure to also place some pieces around the top edge of the planter. Allow it to dry about 3 hours.
2. Create a base to hold the planter upright for further gluing by scrunching up a towel. Place the planter securely on the towel, and continue the process of gluing and drying each side until all four are covered. You can place the towel and planter inside a bin or box to hold the planter upright while it is drying.
3. Once the planter is covered with crystals, prepare it for planting. Place a ¾” (2 cm) layer of gravel in the bottom, then a thin layer of the horticultural carbon. Add enough soil to be able to anchor the roots of the plants; you may raise the soil level slightly above the rim of the container to gain more root space.
4. Position the plants in the soil in a non-symmetrical triangular arrangement, leaving enough room to see a little bit of soil in between them. Once the plants are in place, fill in with additional soil.
5. Create a decorative ground cover using the materials of your choice. Alternate patches of clear and pink sea glass until the entire surface of the soil is covered in a rich layer of texture. A spoon is helpful when placing glass pieces in awkward-to-reach spots between plants and foliage. Finish with a couple of standing crystals if desired.
For more garden projects for decorating and styling your home, check out Bring the Outdoors In, available from Amazon or your local independent bookstore. If you make your crystal-encrusted planter, share a photo tagged with #howtuesday on Instagram or Twitter, or post in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.