Cement Pots for a Windowsill Herb Garden
We made these cute little herb planters using a product called Shapecrete. It works up (almost) like clay.
No need for fancy molds or expensive tools, we made this planter with an empty orange juice container.
During one of the countless trips to the hardware store I saw this bucket of shapeable concrete on the shelf. It said “shapes like clay,” and I was sold.
ShapeCrete is a concrete that you can pour like regular concrete, but it also can be used like clay.
Instead of pouring into a mold you can work it up the sides, inside or out to create what you want.
I wanted herb planters, but I didn't want the hassle of having to buy expensive molds.
So a few safety tips.
Wear a mask. The particles become very airborne, and you don’t want to be breathing those particles into your lungs. Once the product is mixed, you do not need to continue to wear the mask.
Also, wear gloves or you will be trying to get concrete out from under your nails forever. Don’t ask me how I know.
We didn’t have a commercial mold for this project either. My fancy schmancy mold was a recently emptied plastic orange juice container.
The dimensions were 5.5×5.5 and I cut the top of the OJ container to make the mold 7 inches high.
The clay can be pressed against the sides and built up. I found that you need to get the right consistency of clay to water. ShapeCrete recommends three parts mix to one part water for their clay, but I added an extra 1/2 cup of mix to get the structuring right.
I added a cup of the mix to the mold and worked it with my fingers to create the bottom.
I kept adding the clay concrete in 1/2 cup increments. I used my fingers to work the concrete against the sides of the mold. I kept working this way until the sides of my pot reached the top. I kept my concrete 1/4 inch thick all the way around.
Make sure you put a hole in the bottom of the planter. I just pushed a finger down into the mould and moved the clay out of the way.
I waited the recommended 24 hours for the concrete to cure. I used a utility knife to notch the plastic, and with a simple pull, it ripped down the side releasing the planter.
The surface was incredibly smooth. Exactly what I wanted.
The plastic orange juice container did not need to be oiled or greased to release the concrete, it tore away quite easily and the concrete pot popped right out.
To make the small heart trinket I sacrificed a small heart-shaped cookie cutter for the project. It didn’t work very well. Since the concrete clay has tiny rocks, bits of fibre and isn’t smooth like clay, it just wouldn’t cut through cleanly.
I was able to shape and clean up the edges a bit with just a small silicone tip tool that I used to push the concrete around. Once I had a shape that vaguely resembled a heart I used a dotting tip to create the hole.
Concrete creates an alkaline environment which most plants will not enjoy. To use your cement pots for plants you will have to treat them.
You have two options here.
# 1. You can soak your planters in water for 24 hours, which will leach out much of the alkalinity.
# 2. You can add a plastic pot liner, or nursery pot to the inside of the cement container which will protect your plants.
A few things to note. ShapeCrete does not cut like clay, so it was difficult to get a smooth top, you can see in the photo the rough texture of the rim.
If you want something more polished and clean edged you can sand these. The process is tedious! If you do decide to sand them, wear eye protection and a face mask.
I purchased the 20 pound bucket of ShapeCrete and only used a pound and a half of the mix for my planter. One bucket will make many small planters, so keep this in mind if you purchase the large bucket. I made 6 pots, and a very large wall clock with the bucket of mix that I purchased.
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