How to make a whimsical chair planter

Story and Photography by Carolyn Tomlin

Creative gardeners are always on the lookout for unusual objects that provide a whimsical touch in the garden. Giving a second life to a discarded item is not only economical but adds a fun-loving spirit to your space. One such treasure was a bentwood chair that served time in an ice cream parlor at a local diner. Whatever its first life may have been, visitors to your garden will smile when they see its new home.

Making a bentwood chair part of your garden scene is simple. The following materials will bring back the beauty of a forgotten relic.

Bentwood chair (without a bottom)
Spray paint
Wire florist wreath (to fit chair opening)
Florist wire
Planter with holes for adequate drain 
Potting mix
Plants or bulbs

Clean chair with a damp cloth before painting. Check for loose joints and secure with wood glue and a clamp. Applying two coats of paint protects the wood from the weather. Allow paint to completely dry before attaching the wire wreath. 

Tighten loose joints or use wood glue before turning your chair into a planter.

Place the wreath in the chair’s bottom. Wire the wreath in position to accommodate the height of the planter to be used. Position the wreath at the level of where the planter will rest. The top of the planter should be level with the seating area. Using florist wire, secure the wreath to the chair in several places, so the planter will not fall. 

Place a wire wreath inside the bottom. Hold in place with florist wire.

Fill the planter half full of soil. Imagine your planter in thirds: cascading, center, and height or upright (see recommended plants below). Loosen roots on nursery plants so they will adapt to the new environment quickly. Fill in with extra soil after planting. Choose plants with similar needs as to sun/shade, bloom time, and moisture requirements. More is not better. Avoid placing to many plants in one container, as stems, foliage and roots must have room to grow. How will your planter appear in a few weeks? Will it be overgrown or still maintain its shape?

Choose plants that complement the desired location and then enjoy!

Now you’re ready to add your bentwood chair to your garden. Like a beautiful canvas, the chair may be a focal point of a special corner. Or, it may serve as a stand-along piece of art. Whatever your choice, when visitors pass your yard, the chair will bring back memories of days gone by. And, you’ll recall the excitement of restoring a trash-to-treasure chair.

Choose plants with similar sun/shade, bloom time, and moisture requirements for planters.

Cascading or Trailing Plants
Ivy (small leaf)
Cascading petunias (Petunia hybrida)
Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’)
Small-leafed spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’)

Center Plants
Dragon Wing begonia (B. ‘Bepared’)
New Guinea impatiens (I. hawkeri)
Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)
Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)

Upright or Plants for Height
Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)

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