Kitchen Tin Planters and a cautionary tale

Old tins make fabulous planters for a kitchen windowsill right? Maybe not!

Kitchen planters from old tins

I guess you would call this up-cycling. It's an idea I'd seen all over pinterest, using old tins as planters, they look great so I thought I'd have a go. I've made mistakes so you don't have to, read on for my cautionary tale...

I actually started with this "vintage" OXO tin. I say "vintage" like that because really it's just a bit old and I'm not sure if it properly qualifies as vinatge. It was a freebie from OXO back in the 80's and was one of the things I kept when sorting out all my mums things. It's kind of cute but very "of it's time" - apparently only white people used OXO cubes in the 80's and am I the only one thinking that guy on the far right looks a bit like Hitler (ooo, far right ... awkward!)

OXO cube tin.jpg

Over the last 6 months I've just kept my eye out for red food tins (to go in our red kitchen) and now I have 4 I feel this is enough to share with you.

At first I imagined fresh herbs on my kitchen window sill - how lovely that would be. Turns out herbs are quite a lot of work!

  • they get big quickly

  • they get straggly looking quickly, unless you use them all the time in everything you cook

  • a lot of them are annuals and die off in the autumn

If you use a lot of herbs in your cooking you go for it.

I moved to more of an "any easy to grow" plant theme.

The OXO tin is not water tight so I lined the base of the tin with thick plastic and put a dish in the bottom just to make sure water doesn't get inside. I added a plant still in it's plastic regular pot too. This is one of the babies from when I showed how to take cutting from these succulents.

tin and plant.jpg

The next tin I found was the Black Treacle tin, once the treacle was all used up I washed it out and planted it up. I figured this tin was made for liquids so I wouldn't have any problems with it leaking.

planter food tin

I planted it up with soil directly in the tin using some Jade or Money tree babies, also from my plants for free post. It doesn't leak but 6 months on it is going rusty on the bottom:

rusty base.jpg

Not a massive problem but I'm thinking this might leave rings on a windowsill which could be hard to clean off.

Update March 2018: This tin has now gone pretty rusty all the way across in patches so I'll update my advice. If you want this idea to last more than a couple of years you most definitely need to line the tins and NOT plant directly into them. 

rusty tin.png

Turns out maybe not everything you see on pinterest is as simple as it seems! 

  • make sure your tin is sealed or waterproof and line it if it's not

  • herbs are lovely but not super easy to look after

  • consider putting regular plant pots inside your nice tins rather than planting directly into them

  • watch out for rusty bottoms!

  • Don’t expect them to last forever!

It would be a shame to use a lovely vintage tin that took ages to find and then ruin it. 

food tins as kitchen windowsill planters

In the other tins I've settled on a mixture of artificial plants and putting a plastic lining to the tin, with the plant still in it's plastic plant pot. I've not planted directly into any of them.

amaretti tin planter.jpg
paprika tin.jpg

And finally, just because she is rather lovely, here is the cow milk jug that sits on the windowsill with our kitchen tin planters.

cow milk jug.jpg

Another update 2022:

These tins really do go rusty and don’t last forever no matter how careful you are. This is the inside of the Amaretti tin in 2022 (so 6 years later) The tin had a lining of foil and plastic but some moisture clearly still got through. Maybe it’s me, expecting things to last forever! I guess 6 years is not bad :-D

I'm still keeping my eyes open for foods that come in red tins so I can add to the collection. Have you tried using anything unusual as a planter and had any unforeseen problems? 

I’m now collecting china and pottery with red that I can use instead of the food tins so they are gradually being replaced. I just keep my eyes open in charity shops and have picked up a mug and a jug so far. I hoping to find a tea pot with no lid as I think that would be fun to plant up on a kitchen window sill!

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I'll be linking up at these great link parties