I was first introduced to vintage ceramics by my mother by absolute chance in 2018. She asked me to sell some vintage crockery she collected over many years as she was moving into a smaller living space. They were snapped up and I got hooked on collecting vintage ceramics myself. Now I have my own “collection” which led to me starting this blog😊. Being male with very little understanding of vases, never mind flower arranging and its apparent connection to vases, I failed to appreciate the art of creating an eye-catching display of cut flowers. I am a forester by trade, but by no stretch of the imagination some sort of Keith Kirsten, but my understanding is that cut-flowers typically last 7 days if properly cared for and for indoor displays.

Source: https://www.instagram.com/thegoodhome.za/

Being ignorant on these matters I asked myself WHY that is the case. 😆 The answer is that if you were to germinate or transplant flowers into a planter without drainage, any plant leaves and flowers you leave in the vase water will rot quickly, which will spread bacteria that will kill your flowers before their time. Drainage holes allows water to drain through the soil as in nature. Plants (annuals or perennials) planted in a flower bed need a growing medium of adequate drainage to hold sufficient water for a short time and to access nutrients via its rooting system which also anchors the plant. Not enough water and the plant dies, too much water and the water/roots will rot.

I think it is a shame to only display flowers or a bouquet for a short time in a beautiful vintage vase (quite the trend these days) to perhaps lend character to a room and or create a specific mood – only for the process to be repeated within 7 days or less. I get that people with large flower gardens want to bring some of that beauty and freshness into the house and for them it makes perfect sense. After a period of time a new vase is brought out and the old vase washed and put back on display. I believe vintage ceramics are perfect vessels for displaying cut flowers and my mission is to promote the use of them.

BUT…

What if we could permanently display plants in those same vintage vases? Outdoor pots / container gardens are great for beginning gardeners, people who have limited space, or anyone who wants to dress up their porch or patio. They can be planted with a single plant or a combination of plants depending on the look you are trying to achieve. Popular plants for containers include flowers, herbs, veggies, grasses and succulents. Many gardeners switch out the plants they grow seasonally to ensure nonstop color throughout the year. Glazed pottery has a permanent look to it compared to terracotta pots and will be a perfect fit for patios and other areas that receive morning or afternoon sun.

THE SOLUTION…

Drill drainage holes in your vintage ceramics – shock – horror – yes I know, but hear me out! Many vintage ceramic collectors or thrifters have collected planters, vases of all shapes and sizes, and from various makers local and international. Many aren’t displayed or sold on due to crazing, hairline cracks, chips or other imperfections. Turn form into function by converting them into planters with drainage holes in the bottom.

I used an 8mm diamond-tipped hole saw drill bit (Massmart $6). I did some research and found these drill bits can each do around 40 holes before needing replacement. Drill through a paper towel inner roll to prevent the drill hitting the vase. It works! This video shows how to drill the holes:

Use Turnbuckle Wire Strainer Tensioners for each planter/pot. We used a 6mm turnbuckle with a hook for the top planter and a smaller 4mm diameter threaded rod turnbuckle for the lower one – for easy removal or replacement. The smaller 4mm will suffice and takes up less space than the 6mm size. Simply tie wire to both ends to connect the planters. Crucially, use large washers with an 8mm and up aperture, above and below the planter, with a smaller washer on top of the larger washer. This is especially important if the aperture in the larger washer does not tightly fit around the threaded rod, to prevent turnbuckle digging into the washer at an angle, causing the planter to hang at an angle. The washers also prevents stress on the planter/pot by spreading the load through the washers, but the washers also levels the planter and prevent it from hanging at an angle, especially since the holes are not drilled in the center of the mass (Centre of Gravity), as it is always good to have an additional drainage hole sufficiently spaced from the other.

It is important that there is actually a path for water to flow out the base of the planter. The water will then run down the connecting wire into the planter below via gravity.

Usually a planter with a drainage hole has a saucer below it to catch the water – but the water typically has to be tipped out to prevent bacteria forming from standing water. With this system water simply flows to the next planter eliminating the need for a saucer. Who needs a tunneling system??!😆

Artistic rendering – Angle #1
Artistic rendering – Angle #2

Please see the Resources section below. It is quite informative and will give you some ideas. I will upload my first creations (I am still getting used to this) to:

https://www.instagram.com/vintage_ceramics_southafrica/

…soon. Good luck!

Resources:

Planter ideas:

https://www.instagram.com/justgrowsucculents/

https://www.instagram.com/thegoodhome.za/

https://www.instagram.com/write_me_a_story_/

Potting mixes / Planting and watering:

https://www.gardendesign.com/containers/

Cool outdoor or indoor display ideas: