Pots too large for plants-collecting rainwater

Polly Zieper
by Polly Zieper
I'm embarassed to say that I have two ginormous plant pots just sitting in my backyard.They're so big that I can't afford to buy soil for them, any suggestions? I'm afraid if I put two or three smaller plants from a nursery in them they'll look silly because it would be so obvious that there wasn't soil between the pots. Help!
too large to fill with soil, too heavy to move-they're a burden and a waste
  21 answers
  • Chris aka monkey Chris aka monkey on Nov 10, 2014
    @Polly Zieper i usually add something to pot to take up a lot of wasted space i have use packing peanuts water bottles soda bottles etc just make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom anything you have even broken styrofoam coolers it saves a ton of money on dirt xx
  • J Merillat J Merillat on Nov 10, 2014
    I also use packing peanuts to fill the bottom half of my big pots.
  • Vic523593 Vic523593 on Nov 11, 2014
    Take a clay pot and turn it upside down, then fill with stones, pepples or I have used broken pots as a filler for a base. Now you can set smaller pots inside.
  • Peggy B Peggy B on Nov 11, 2014
    I use plastic flower pots turned upside down inside the large pot to take up the extra space. this works very well.
  • Linda Kelly Linda Kelly on Nov 11, 2014
    I save styrofoam peanuts or actual pieces of block styrofoam that may surround a TV or some other electronic or knock down furniture you buy and use them to fill big pots. Some peanuts are made to dissolve in water, so if you put those in the pot and then see that the dirt is getting lower and lower, you will know that you had the dissolving type of peanuts.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 11, 2014
    Follow the great suggestions above and put those pots to use!
  • Helen Helen on Nov 11, 2014
    I have used all of the above to "fill" large planters...found it works very well and if you want to reposition the pot it is much easier!
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Nov 12, 2014
    You can also buy wrought iron stands on castors. They are 3 or 4 inches high and come in various diameters. Then you can roll your pots around. Have one on my deck. It's great...
  • Janie Hardy Grissom Janie Hardy Grissom on Nov 12, 2014
    Most annual plants don't need more than 10 inches of soil anyways. 1st make sure you don't plug up the drainage hole to your pot by laying a scrap piece of landscape fabric across the bottom, followed by an inch or so of riverbed size gravel...or some shards of a broken clay pot will also work. This also helps keep the soil from running out the drainage hole(s) when you water. Fill the excess space up in the pot using empty water bottles or any non chemical plastic container with a lid. In larger pots I've used my laundry detergent bottles. Don't worry if a little soap leaks into the soil...it won't hurt anything except for the digestive track to a few bugs...which is a good thing. Start laying potting soil over the plastic, packing it in slightly to avoid any air pockets. You could even wet it down a little as you go until you've filled the pot. This way you're helping the soil settle a bit so you don't have to add soil latter. FYI..a former suggestion mentioned to use packing peanuts. Most are now starch based & break down, or start biodegrading, so I've stopped using them. Also a pain in the but to sift out of the soil if you need to replant the pot. Hope this helps...
  • Carole Carole on Nov 12, 2014
    Coming at it from a different angle. If the pots are the same, put one upside down and the other on top of it right side up and put a lid on it - this could be the saucer that is usually on the bottom and turn it into a bird bath. Or something else to turn it into a garden table. You can always revert back to using them for plants again when financial situation is a little better.
  • Lisa Lisa on Nov 12, 2014
    I would follow suggestions above about using empty bottles or upside down plastic flower pots, both of which I've done, along with broken pieces of clay pots, small stones, etc. As far as putting plants in them - watch for the inevitable sales in the big box stores which occur when the employees don't bother taking care of the plants. Even though they look a little sad, the plants can be nurtured back to looking really good with a bit of water and sunshine and possibly some egg shells or coffee grounds. :) Or - get a couple of 6 packs of (let's see, this time of year in Florida) perhaps snap dragons? they don't require a lot of care once established, grow to a fairly decent height, and there are some really lovely colors available. Another alternative would be to mix vermiculite and soil and plant a cutting of something in your yard, but I really do think something like snap dragons would be an excellent choice. They don't mind if it gets a little cool and they really don't mind heat and humidity. Good luck :)
  • You could always fill in the bottom with organic material such as mulch, pine needles, even small bits of wood, rock etc to fill up the space and then just use soil from the ground and a bag of composted manure/humus for a couple dollars at Home Depot or Lowes or even Walmart. I do not use fancy soil and usually use the $1.79 bags of composted manure and my plants do great.
  • Lee Lee on May 18, 2015
    It took approx 2-bags of top soil for my 22-inch diameter pots $2.40 per pot. I am priced out of planting flats of flowers so I chose to plant evergreens, they winter over and look happy with a bit of miracle grow a few times a year and frequent watering. (Windstorms took down my 3 forty-yearold trees. (So these potted trees help me accept my storm loss.)
  • Judith Judith on May 22, 2015
    Well, I need a very large pot so just send them on down to me in Fl. Just kidding. You could put another pot inside sitting on another to raise it. Put dirt between the wall of the larger pot and the one inside. Place draping plants on the lower "ring" and use the inside pot for a dramatic larger plant. All suggested fillers could apply too. Good luck.
    • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on May 27, 2015
      @Judith I thought of puting another pot, or even a small trash can , upside down, inside this pot to take up space, And I am in FL, ( south) but my son is in Gainesville- he's a gator:)
  • Judith Judith on May 27, 2015
    Yea, GO GATORS! You should take a trip this way, would love to meet you.
    • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on May 28, 2015
      @Judith I've been up to UF to tour the school and then to move my son in. I likethe architecture of the school and the surrounding neighborhoods- it reminds me of New England, which is 'home' to my husband and to me- everything in s FL is so contemporary, and stucco... UF is a 5 hr ride, so after that, we begged our other kids not to go to FSU- its 2-3 hrs farther from us:)
  • Judith Judith on May 28, 2015
    Understand, but just in case.....
  • GwenD GwenD on May 30, 2015
    I have used empty water bottles along with potting soil, an it helps with drainage also. Good way to recycle.
  • Forward Thrift Forward Thrift on May 30, 2015
    Or flip them over and use them as stands for smaller pots
  • Mimi Haywood Mimi Haywood on May 30, 2015
    I saw a post yesterday where a woman used dollar store swim noodles to fill up empty space before adding plant material.
  • Gail Gail on May 30, 2015
    All good ideas for the bottom to take up space also you can get small round thing on wheels. I took this pic on my washer so it would show up the best. A heavy pot can then be moved around a porch or patio.
    comment photo
  • Summer Summer on May 30, 2015
    I use packing peanuts or empty bottles. They allow for soil to drain and make the pots much lighter! Depending on the plants fill 1/3-1/2 with whichever then add plant and soil. I would get 3-4 different plants and make them a yard centerpiece! Happy Planting! S