Make Your Own Cement Cloth Planting Pot
Want a unique rustic planter for your front porch, lanai or just about anywhere? These cement cloth planters are a fun easy project for everyone. It’s a bit messy, kind of like making mud pies, and there are a few safety precautions you’ll want to know about, but for an afternoon project… it can’t be beat!
Items You’ll Need:
- Kitchen style gloves with long cuffs
- Dust Mask
- Portland Cement (NOT concrete) You can use white or gray
- Perlite (this is optional with these)
- Peat Moss or coconut fiber
- Large Mixing Container (something long and shallow works best… like a rubbermaid container)
- Cloth to use for your project. This can be any old rag, dishtowels, burlap, whatever you have on hand.
- Plastic grocery bags
- Plastic Sheeting to place project on to dry
- A mold tall enough to drape your cement cloth over (try 5 gallon buckets, stacked nursery pots, or any other tall item that can support the weight of the cement saturated cloth
Mixing The Ingredients
First, put on your gloves and dust mask. The ingredients are powdery when dry and you do not want to breath the dust or touch the cement powder with your bare hands. Its very caustic and can cause extreme skin dryness and burns.
Mix 2 parts portland cement with 1 part peat moss and 1 part pearlite, with your hands dry in your mixing container. Once you have all of the ingredients mixed up you’ll add water until its wet and gloppy. You need to add the water slowly, mixing in between, to distribute the water equally throughout the mud. Once your mix is wet, you can remove your dust mask but not your gloves. Add water until you are a little wetter than chunky peanut butter consistency. You can also experiment with different mixes. Some folks like their end result to be smoother than the woody effect of the perlite, peat moss mix. If you are going for that look, mix your cement with builder sand instead, for a smoother finish.
Add Your Cloth
Wet the cloth you will use with water and squeeze it out till it’s damp, and then, put it into the mixture, turning and swirling in the cement mixture, making sure it is completely saturated with the cement mix. IF your mix dries out when adding the cloth.. add a little more water being sure it is thoroughly combined with the mix. When your cloth is truly saturated. you are ready to drape it over your stand. You can use more than one saturated cloth and cloth with different textures are kind of fun to mix together. Each piece needs to be thoroughly saturated with the mix.
Prepare Your Stand Mold
Prepare your stand (mold) first by placing it upside down on top of some sheet plastic and covering it with a plastic grocery bag. I use stacked nursery pots for this. 3 gallon size works great. Depending on the size of the cloth you are using you want the mold to be high enough that the cement draping does not touch the ground. You’ll probably want to locate your molds outdoors in a sunny spot.
Once your mold is prepared, simply take your cement saturated cloth and drape it over your bucket, stacked nursery pots or whatever you are using as your stand. You can arrange it however you like and move it so that the cloth drapes in the fashion you envision.
When your cloth is draped, you can glop on more mix to the outside if it looks bare in any spots. You can also add more mix to the top of your project (which will be the base of your pot) to thicken it a little. There are all kinds of effects you can play with. For instance, if your cloth is actually hitting the ground, try swirling it LOOSELY around the mold at the bottom. The result is very cool.
Leftover Cement? Make Hands!
Now.. If you have mix left, keep going! Make more while you have the mix.
If you don’t have enough to make a whole new pot, you might have enough to make these awesome cement hands.. Just work your mix into a used glove, making sure you have a solid amount in the fingers. Use a cow milking action. Then set you cement filled glove inside a pot to curl the fingers.. Wait at least 48 hours before attempting to remove the glove. Tease the glove off, very gently. I’ve broken many a hand trying to remove the glove. If you have sections of glove that have broken off you can try a torch to just melt it off…
All Done? Walk Away
Once you have all your cement mix used up.. walk away and leave it to dry for a MINIMUM of 24 hours. If it’s chilly, or cloudy, you’ll want to wait longer. I usually wait 48 hours before i touch my cement projects. If Rain threatens, cover your project with plastic and wait an extra day.
Clean all of your mixing containers with clean water. The cement mixture will easily separate from the plastic of the container, while it is fresh.
This is the moment you’ve waited for. Gently pick up your mold and invert it. Pull gently on the bucket or stacked pots until they release from the cement cloth planter. Pull the grocery bag gently out next. You may find that you have some chips of cement on the edges. These should easily flake right off.
Set your new cement pot down and admire it!
The color will be a greenish gray, but as it ages it will lighten considerably. The tree trunk look can be enhanced by staining or painting your pot after you’ve let it cure for a couple weeks. Your pot will need to cure, outside in the weather for a couple months if you intend to plant it directly. If you are using another pot inside, you can use your planter right away. The irregular edges are perfect for creating fairy gardens or woodland gardens with hills and steps. You are limited only by your imagination! If you enjoy creating with cement, you may enjoy this book that includes many recipes and projects for Creating With Concrete.
Once your cement cloth project is cured, you can use almost anything kind of paint or stain if you like. Acid based cement stains, acrylic or latex paint etc. Hey.. it’s a cementaceous mix that will absorb almost any color. Experiment with combinations of color, stains etc. You’ll come up with a favorite finish. ‘
If you want to learn more about cement crafts here are a couple of suggestions from Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate and curated these items specially for you!
This next book is an interesting array of making hypertufa troughs and includes intriguing info about using them for alpine plants and how to grow them.
If you are ready to learn more about coloring and treating your cement creations, this book has the goods along with several how-to new cement projects. Once you have the cement bug.. you’ve got the cement bug! Great reviews here too!
Do you need quality foliage plants for your mini garden? Check out our terrarium foliage plants right HERE
Want to Host a Cement Cloth Planter Party?
If you are local to the Tampa Bay Area, we’d love to show you how it’s done! We bring everything except the molds and cloth. Great fun for kids or adults. Check out our Facebook Page Outdoor Spaces for pictures of the workshop we did for the Hillsborough Garden Club at Home Depot in Town and Country. It was a blast!
love this thank you will be making some on Australia Day I hope
Sounds like fun Pamela! Let me know how it goes. I was at a trade show recently and someone had made some really small ones, bandanna size, and they were adorable! They’d planted succulents in them. Wish I’d gotten a picture!
What did you use to get that look, or was it painted?
I am also on Facebook
Virgie… Yep, it was painted. I just used acrylic paints that i had on hand for other art projects. The cement soaks it right up. I waited a while though before painting it. I also painted one a wonderful blue color, but it broke after a couple of seasons. Its a good idea to glop extra cement on after you drape.
Hi I will try this mixture see how I go have tryed the builders quick set concrete has worked simular but has not harden enough to stand by it self sides keep drooping when pot taken out and are these ok to put outside in the weather once I accomplish it propper . They look amazing.Im still not happy with mine .
Ahhh it doesn’t harden enough.. Remember to moisten your cloth first.. then be sure it is really saturated with cement.. You can even add more cement to the outside after it’s is hanging on your mold.
If your “frame” fabric is not thick enough to hold the molding material (cement), you can manually add some material on top of first 1-2 layers, or use Stucco Mesh (buy the cheapest one, you don’t need adhesive or reinforced mesh). Mesh will allow you to attach structural details of non-cement nature to your project.
I have the same problem they are soft
Hi my name is Sharon my planters are soft, I used mortar .what can I do?thank you.
Key word Sharon… PORTLAND CEMENT! You’ll have much better luck with the right cement product.
I can’t wait to try this project. With the long winters here in Alaska, I’m always looking for winter garden projects and this looks like the perfect solution for a fun and creative afternoon. Thanks for sharing.
Cant wait to hear how it turns our Jeantette!
Recently saw this technique using a crocheted baby blanket. Any ideas or suggestions? It allowed light to come through the holes.
How long do these last normally?
If the cement is heavy enough they will probably last a few years outside. When using heavy cloth like tericloth, it’s really important that you really get the cloth saturated with the cement mixture, even adding extra if it looks thin at all. I try to completely conceal the tericloth look with the cement. Inside, they should last indefinitely.
I just wanted to say…Thank you for sharing your knowledge !
Thank you for posting I’m going to try this. Have you put dye for cement in mixture? I’m thinking about trying it. Another question is after hanging the cloth and adding more mixture does that hold well as your putting it on?
Kathy, I’ve never put dye in the draped cement mixture. I know people do this however. I do love the look after painting. I used acrylic paints and they just absorb right into the cement. Heck.. give it a try!
Does quickcrete work for this project?
I’m pretty sure it will.. just make sure your cloth is thoroughly saturated, like with all methods.. Would love it if you share your results!
do these planters not last long if kept outside? what is the best cloth to use to make it last longer?
I’ve used terricloth in the past. You can also layer thinner cloth or burlap… might be stronger.
so you think the thinner the cloth the more durable it will be
Layered thinner cloth.
love them everyone here want me to make them for sell it
Awesome Jessenia! Do it! You can make money with hypertufa.. I like to plant mine and sell the whole arrangement, but i know they do sell on their own as well. Good Luck!
also is it better to use concrete or mortar?
You have to use PORTLAND CEMENT.. not concrete~! or mortar..
Can u add mortar to the Portland cement ?
If your making a larger one would if benefit or ruin it to make a small drain hole?
You have made me EXCITED to use the stack of doilies I have in my sewing room! Watch out world! Here comes some BEAUTIFUL PLANTERS!!
Jealous.. I’m dying to try doilies! Don’t have any at the moment. I’d love to see how they turn out!
How do I get the pot out, mine is
Stuck. I can’t get the bucket off.
Did you cover your bucket with plastic? If the cement was able to wrap around any protrusion… you may have to cut out the bucket:(
I wanted to let you know 3 years ago I tried the cement cloth technique using leftover fleece !!! I also used burlap!! Both are still strong as ever!
Both turned out fantastic and unique!! I ended up acid staining one which really has a different look.
That’s great to know! I have some burlap here I’ve got earmarked for my next project!
I tried an old sheet and an old tablecloth.
Both were not absorbent enough. It needs to be a heavy absorbent kind of cloth or enough material doesn’t absorb to make them strong.
I’ve been days trying to add more to give them the strength they will need and about to give up and get the burlap out.
I wish the 3 I viewed had indicated the need for an absorbant cloth before I started.
love these planters. I am just wondering is the perlite/ vermiculite and peat moss for texture? I thought the cloth etc.. would take on the structural properties? I was going to just try cement alone, will that work or do you need to add sand or the above stuff?
thanks in advance 🙂
Tony, It is mostly for texture and for added strength for hypertufa pots. This project can definitely be done without perlite and peatmoss. It gives you a smoother texture. Make sure the mix is not too watery. You can also add thick cement water with a brush, after a few hours on the mold and inside when removed from the mold, for a little extra strength.
Are they completely hard or is there a little flexibility? I keep trying to make them but I can’t seem to get them just absolutely rock hard.
There is usually a little flexiblity. Unless you keep recoating and recoating.
are these planters ment to stay outside in harsh winters? if not…can they be made winter proof?
I’m thinking that you’ll want to bring them in.. I however, live in florida so don’t have the climate to experiment with 🙂