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Those with an ever-growing potted plant collection are always thinking about creative houseplant display solutions. Even though the internet is full of DIY plant stand ideas, the crafty guru that you are might want to build one to suit your own interiors. AD is here for you with five inspiring plant stand ideas made from existing furniture pieces so that your trailing pothos, stately palms, and even diminutive air plants can fill up every nook and cranny of your home beyond wall-mounting houseplants to vertical spaces.
Selected text reprinted from the new book Plant Coach: The Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Plants and the Planet by Nick Catsumpas, published by Abrams. Photographs © 2022 by Shelby Pine.
Below, experts give you a step-by-step tutorial on how you can also convert a coffee table, side table, and other unique flat surfaces into stunning statement pieces that double as plant stands in case you’re out of space on the mantlepiece, window ledge, bookshelves, and countertops. These DIY plant stand furniture ideas will make your houseplants the envy of everyone perusing your socials.
A cute and compact DIY by landscaper Nick Catsumpas
Trailing pothos gives the coffee table a romantic vibe.
Coffee tables can host a bevy of plants. When filming Instant Dream Home in Los Angeles last year, author, urban farmer, and landscaper Nick Catsumpas tried to fashion “living furniture.” The result can be found in his new book, Plant Coach: The Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Plants and the Planet. “The vision I had was to make the coffee table a planter, fit with a waterproof planting trough and drainage hole,” Catsumpas says. There would be a sunken area, or river, as he calls it, where the plants would be, he says. “Once the plants were in place, the trough would become invisible, and it would appear as if the plants were growing out of the table itself.” The complete instructions for this DIY can be found at Farmer Nick.
Catsumpas could not forget about succulents, of course.
To make this coffee table planter, you’ll need:
Catsumpas’s tabletop is 46.5 inches long, 1.25 inches thick, and about 12 inches wide. Cut the wood plank horizontally in half with the band saw to make the tabletop space for the plants. Cut four more wood plank pieces with a table saw for the apron. The long sides should be cut to be 36x1x4". Then cut the short sides to 18x1x4". Next, use the table saw to make the four legs, with each leg measuring 18x2x2". Connect the legs and apron using wood glue. Let dry overnight.
The plant table coming together.
As the table dries, work on the planting trough. This will stay underneath the tabletop, but will be hidden from view by the table’s apron. Catsumpas used cedar plywood to make the trough.
Using a table saw or hand saw, cut the wood into five pieces: the bottom should measure 38.5x12x0.5", the two shorter sides should measure 12x3x0.5", and the two longer sides should measure 38.5x0.5". After all the pieces are cut, attach with a nail gun. Finally, add a thin layer of resin to ensure the trough is waterproof. This will prevent water from the plants’ pots from soaking into the wood.
Now put all your pieces together beginning with the table frame and trough. Using the Kreg Jig, Catsumpas nailed the trough within the tabletop frame. Next, add the apron sides. Apply finishing oil. Fill the river of your table with plants.
You can even use this DIY coffee table as a platform for floral arrangements.
How to Plant a Room authors get creative with living room furniture.
A way to dip your toes into creative DIY furniture plant displays is to start with small side tables. Artist and author Morgan Doane of Planting Pink in Tampa, Florida, and Portland-based author and blogger Erin Harding of Clever Bloom wrote How to Plant a Room to inspire others to bring some green into their abode with unique plant stand ideas. “We wanted the projects to be accessible to as many people as possible,” Doane says. Harding loves that this DIY uses existing furniture pieces and works well with popular plants like succulents. “They have shorter root structures and have infrequent watering needs,” she says.
To make this planted side table, you’ll need:
Spread a layer of activated charcoal in the bottom of the stainless steel side table tray. This will absorb excess moisture and help prevent rot. Add a thin layer of potting soil on top of the charcoal layer.
Wearing gardening gloves, remove the plants from their pots and gently massage the roots until they can be spread out and flattened. (Alternatively, you can also wrap a few layers of newsprint around the cacti before touching them to help protect hands in addition to wearing gloves.) Begin planting in the center of the side table, placing the tallest plants there and moving out toward the edges with squatter and shorter plants. Fill in the gaps with small cacti and succulents. Turn the tray as you go for a well-rounded grouping of plants.
Once you have the plants where you want them, add decorative rocks to anchor succulents and cover the soil. For this project, Harding and Doane used a five-pound bag of small white pebbles. Finally, make sure your table is placed in a well-lit spot near a bright window for your desert plants to thrive.
The Re/Sprout co-owner Kanti Crain gives her plant stand a scholarly spin.
A library catalog cabinet offers a sense of height and refinement, and it also allows for some flexibility in plant arrangements. The Re/Sprout co-owner Kanti Crain in Indianapolis says you can even change your plant displays in these cabinets to match the season. “Also, these types of pieces have been around for a long time, so you’ve got a variety of styles to match your decor,” she says. Crain was able to collect her midcentury-modern card catalog from a vintage dealer in Chicago.
To make this library catalog cabinet, you’ll need:
Perhaps the hardest thing about this DIY is just finding the right library catalog cabinet. “Unfortunately, the price of card catalog or apothecary furniture has been increasing as they trend,” Crain says. But you can still locate them among antique shops or “Facebook Marketplace, and sometime IG searches will turn up private sellers,” she says.
For this display, size is key. Be sure to choose plants small enough to fit in the drawers but large enough to poke out. This will provide the visual interest in the furniture that has caught the attention of so many on social media. “Trailing plants will usually be a good fit, any pothos, Scindapsus, trailing Monstera plants, or trailing Philodendron,” Crain says. Or, try long and strap leaf plants such as Anthurium friedrichsthalii, Anthurium pallidiflorum, or Anthurium vittarifolium. “If you have enough light, Hoyas should be great here,” she says. Just be sure to use pots and planters with saucers to preserve the life of the furniture, she says.
Crain rotates her plants by gradually turning each to face different directions. This ensures the plants get enough light while creating variety in terms of how the plants are displayed.
The plant shelf is a classic, Catsumpas says of his Burrow shelf display.
“You cannot be a self-respecting plant parent without your #plantshelfie, and they are especially popular for city dwellers to maximize their planting space,” Catsumpas says. “My plant shelf is the centerpiece of my living room.” Although his plant shelf acts more as a plant wall, for this DIY, you can keep it small or go big like Catsumpas. Be sure to choose a wall that receives good lighting and is strong enough to support the weight of your chosen plant shelf.
To make this plant shelf, you’ll need:
Make sure the shelf is level at installation.
Every shelf is unique, so the installation instructions will vary. Locate the installation poster guide that comes with the shelf and position the poster on your desired location on the wall. Use a level to ensure that the poster is aligned and straight. Once level, tape the corners of the posters to the wall. Drill two oversized holes through the poster’s indicated spots in the desired position (the Burrow shelf Catsumpas used has holes in the back where the screw head will slide into). After you’ve drilled the holes, remove the poster. Hammer the anchor into each of the holes. Drill the screws into the two anchors, leaving about half an inch of the screw head exposed. Slide the shelf onto the wall.
A pretty planter is just as important as the plant.
“I strongly recommend planning out your plant-planter combinations before putting them on the shelf,” Catsumpas says. Why do this? “Because you may be limited by the amount of space in each shelf gap.” Catsumpas leaves enough space between plants so they are not crowded. He selected plants that were no more than six inches tall. Moreover, the taller the plant, the smaller the vessel he’d pick. Consider what plants you place on the taller shelves, as these may be hard to reach. Catsumpas recommends using drought-resistant plants up high.
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This plant table DIY is one of the easiest to make. Annika Marie in Portland always wanted a blooming table, so she made one. “I happened to come across a little table for free on the side of the road,” she says. “The table had a loose glass top resting on a wood frame, and it was the perfect size.” But antique shops and Facebook Marketplace are other great places to find a table that can work for this DIY.
To make this blooming table, you’ll need:
Marie found a 12x24" perforated stainless steel sheet at a hardware store. She then cut this to size and attached it to the underside of her table’s frame with screws. “This material is sturdy enough to hold up the plants,” she says. “But it’s also really moldable and allows for drainage.”
“I needed to keep the glass propped up enough to leave room for the plants, so I got some small wooden furniture legs and some rubber stoppers,” she says. These she screwed in upside down into the top of the table frame. “Then I placed the rubber stoppers on top of them to protect the glass. Unusual, but it worked!”
Spread gravel over the perforated stainless steel sheet. This prevents the soil from falling out. Then Marie added the soil and planted all her succulents. Since the steel sheet has holes, even with the gravel in place, Marie suggests that you lift the glass top and water with care. “Place the blooming table in the shower or outside, letting it fully drain before putting it back.” Luckily, as the plants don’t need much water, you can perform this task only as needed.
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