Vintage Animal Planters

5 Materials
15 Minutes

You can view this project and my others at my website:

A few years ago, I found a picture in a magazine of a very unique dinosaur planter. It looked like it was made out of metal and had a really pretty plant growing out of it’s back. Of course, I can never really afford to order anything out of magazines. Naturally, I spent some time re creating one for myself on a budget.
At the time, I made an awesome t-rex out of one of my husband’s old toys. His mom brought over an old box of dinosaurs from his childhood to give to our two boys. Today I decided to make an elephant.
Finished Elephant Planter
Supplies Needed
Step One: As in all projects, the first step is to decide exactly what you want, then gather supplies. What kind of animal do you want? What color will match your home?
If you have kids that have outgrown some old plastic or rubber animals, browse through them to find one you like. I bought the above elephant for $1 at Walmart. They have similar animals at dollar stores and toy stores. I have just been feeling like I need more elephants in my life lately.
While I was waiting for the paint mixer guy to show up at Walmart (I am working on a laundry room renovation), I also grabbed a $5 can of metallic bronze spray paint. I like the look of metal, and I want this planter to look vintage and solid.
You will also need a small plant. Succulents work well, so do any low maintenance indoor plants. I chose a jade plant that cost $3.
At home, grab your nifty household drill and a pair of scissors.
No elephants were harmed during this project.
Step Two: Drill a hole in your animal’s back where you would like the plant to stick out. You may need to hold the animal because it squishes down and might be difficult to get a direct angle on.
This guy is tougher than he looks!
Step Three: Cut a hole large enough to fit your plant into, using a pair of sharp scissors. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because foliage will most likely cover it up anyway. Use the hole you drilled to get a firm grip.
I've been banned from spray painting indoors.
Step Four: Spray paint the bottom of your animal first, then flip over and spray paint the top. The inside does not need to be painted. Make sure the outside is fully covered. One coat of spray paint should do it.
It started to rain, so he has to come inside.
Step Five: Wait a good three hours for the paint to dry. Go find that project that you have been procrastinating on and work on it a bit, binge watch a show for awhile, play with your kids or dogs or relax with some wine.

Step Six: Fill the bottom part of the animal with soil, through the hole in it’s back. It doesn’t need to be completely full. Make sure you leave room for the plant.
Step Seven: Add the plant by squeezing the roots into the hole.
Step Eight: Place in a spot where it gets the sunlight it will need and you will not forget to water it.

TIP: If you are planting a succulent, try to mix sand into the soil. Now will be a good time to mix in a bit of fertilizer if needed. I personally like to add worm castings into whatever I am planting. The soil from your yard is probably not your best choice. Succulents should only be watered minimally once a month. The number one killer of succulents is over watering.

This project cost me $9 total, but I have enough paint left over to make many more! Each animal costs only a dollar. Excluding drying and shopping time, this project only took a few minutes.

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Dreamin of Home
    on Nov 13, 2017

    I'm wondering about drainage. Wouldn't you need at least some gravel or charcoal at bottom if you don't cut a drainage hole?
    Otherwise this looks like something I will definitely do for kids' Christmas or birthday gifts!
    • NamaStay Design
      on Nov 14, 2017

      The seams of these $1 toys are not very solid. Water leaks out when I water them, so I just set them in the sink or on a plate until dry. There is so little room for soil and roots inside the elephant so I don't think gravel would fit. Sand or small grains of charcoal might if you really want to try. I think drilling a small drainage hole would be better than adding anything though.
    • Dreamin of Home
      on Nov 14, 2017

      thanks for answering so quickly, Erica. I have seen these on Pinterest and always want to try one. Think I just might do it.
    • Barb in Texas
      on Nov 18, 2017

      When it comes to planters, you only need drainage when you over-water the plants. Esp something like a succulent, it only needs a few drops once in a while (not every week).
    • Carolyn Young
      on Nov 18, 2017

      Easy solution - use an artificial succulent, no problem w/ watering!

    • Bridget
      on Nov 18, 2017

      these little plants don't need enough water to drain, they are succulents.

    • Dreamin of Home
      on Nov 18, 2017

      thanks, all. I didn't know succulents don't need drainage. I have decided to avert any problems there and use an Air Plant instead.

Join the conversation

3 of 34 comments
  • Kathy
    on Nov 28, 2017

    What size Elephant did you use for this project? It looks like a medium size Elephant. I also love Elephants, I think they are majestic. So cute, I would love to do one at least also.
  • Carolyn
    on Dec 5, 2017

    This is fabulous! You could use it without the plants and put coins or earrings in it.
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