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How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors

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Wondering if you can move your indoor planter outdoors? There are just a few things to keep in mind: drainage and waterproofing! Here’s how you can update your planter so it doesn’t get ruined by the elements outdoors.

Can I use an indoor planter outdoors?

Hi! In the spirit of easy, plant-themed DIYs these days…I’ve got another easy, plant-themed DIY! 🙂 The theme of this years back garden is reduce, reuse, recycle. And avoid trips to the store. So I’ve been doing a lot of repurposing and moving indoor plants outdoors.

But can all planters be moved outdoors? Nope, they can’t. At least not without some adjustments, that is. Today I’m talking about some changes I made to one of my favorite indoor planters. These small changes make it suitable for outdoors use without ruining its potential for indoor use this winter!

beautiful small back garden design

How to use an indoor plant pot outdoors

Here are a few shots of the lovely planter I’m working on today. I got this at Homegoods sometime last year or the year before. You know, I wasn’t even sure it was a planter…it was with a bunch of outdoor beverage cooler stuff. Could it be designed to hold ice and drinks? Maybe. Did I immediately see planter potential? Yup.

The first pic is the first plant I put in it, a gorgeous pothos. When I decided to move this pothos to a hanging planter last fall because it was getting so big and gorgeous, I put my elephant ear cutting in it. The elephant ear cutting lived there through the winter until I planted it in a larger pot outdoors last month.

How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors

The planter sat sad and empty downstairs. I knew I wanted to use it for something, but I also knew that I didn’t want to buy another plant for inside. I had enough going on outside that will need to come in for the winter! So I decided to update the planter to make it suitable for outdoor use.

Here’s what I used:

And here’s how to use an indoor planter outdoors!

Always take the proper precautions and safety measures before working with any tools. Wear safety equipment and work with a professional when necessary. Read my full terms of use for more. Happy building and stay safe!

Step 1: Seal porous wood parts

Sealing porous wood parts like the legs on this planter is essential to your planter’s longevity. A few coats of a water-protective spray helps keep the wood looking like new.

The wood legs on this planter pot were completely unsealed, which meant the wood would wear down faster outdoors in the elements. The spray did darken the color just a bit, but that’s fine. It helped me see where I was spraying it, and it also gave the wood a nice, rich-looking tone.

The three legs on this planter easily unscrewed. I set them upside down in my driveway and gave them a few coats of Thompson’s Water Seal aerosol spray. This stuff works wonders on a variety of surfaces, so it’s a nice tool to keep at home in your DIY tool kit. The aerosol version makes it easy to apply to surfaces like these, too.

The planter portion seemed sealed with something already, so I didn’t spray anything on it. Plus, I figured it had been holding wet soil and plants all this time without wear, so I would be good.

How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
thompson's water seal
sealing wooden planter legs
sealing wooden planter legs

Step 2: Drill a drainage hole or two

Drainage is absolutely essential to outdoor planters. That’s because you can’t control the elements outdoors like you can indoors. Indoors, you can just water plants sparingly to avoid overwatering and root rot issues. However, one rainstorm could easily flood a plant without a drainage hole.

If it’s a hanging planter, the weight of the water and soil could break it. This is embarrassing, but at the beginning of my plants and gardening journey, I tried to put an idea planter without drainage holes outside. Unsurprisingly it snapped off and fell onto the ground after the first thorough watering. What a mess.

drilling a drainage hole in a plant pot

What type of drill bit should I use to drill a hole in a plant pot?

This depends largely on the material you’re drilling into. If you are drilling into ceramic or a glazed pot, you might want to consider using a masonry bit. I have a whole post about how to drill a hole in a ceramic pot using a masonry bit. You could also consider a tile bit like you’d use to drill holes through wall tile to hang shelving.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what the pot part of my planter was made of. It seemed like some sort of resin, maybe, like the hanging planters I have outside. I decided to try drilling a hole with a regular bit, the biggest one I have. I’ve also used this bit to drill holes in the bottom of plastic planters I was using outside.

I figured if I encountered resistance or noticed any cracking, I’d stop drilling immediately before I broke the pot. It was a risk, but it paid off! With slow, steady pressure, I had a hole. It took a few minutes, but I’d rather have it take longer and not break! I also drilled a second hole that isn’t pictured.

drilling a drainage hole in a plant pot
drilling a drainage hole in a plant pot

Like plant care tips? You’ll love my guides on how to take care of the ponytail palmelephant ear plantspothos plantsrubber plantsfiddle leaf figscape ivypeperomia plantssucculents, and philodendron.

Step 3: Plant!

Once the legs were dry and I was able to screw them back on, it was planting time. I planted a snake plant I had downstairs in Mike’s office, as well as a bunch of gorgeous pothos cuttings I’d been rooting in water. If this were indoors, I would have used a well-draining potting soil, even a succulent mix.

However, soil can dry out so quickly outside that I decided to use a regular potting mix with just a bit of perlite added in for drainage. That way, on super hot days, the pot will retain some moisture.

beautiful rooted pothos cuttings
beautiful rooted pothos cuttings

Here’s the finished indoor planter repurposed for outdoor use!

How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors


How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
How to Use an Indoor Planter Outdoors
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