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How to Recycle an Empty Can Into a Flower Planter

Thelma is a Filipina expat living in Germany. She is a very creative person, and she shares DIY tips about anything she has done in life.

One of the recycled can planters that I have made.

One of the recycled can planters that I have made.

Why Recycle Cans?

I'd never thought about making anything out of an empty food can: I used to throw away the empty cans from the food that I'd already cooked. This attitude changed when the coronavirus came into the world.

A few weeks before the lockdown in Germany, we started storing non-perishable food like canned goods from different kinds of vegetables, sausages, meat, canned bread and many food essentials like flour and sugar. We stored frozen food, too.

Every time I opened canned carrots, peas and sausages, my yellow plastic trash bag for plastics and cans grew heavier. I was thinking that maybe one day, there would be no more men to collect our garbage because of the lockdown. So, I was thinking of recycling the empty cans I have instead of throwing them away—I need planters for my plants on the balcony, anyway. The idea of turning a can into a planter came to my mind in a flash.

The finished DIY recycled can planter.

The finished DIY recycled can planter.

Things You Need

  • Old newspaper
  • Tissue paper or kitchen paper
  • 1 empty can (any size you wish)
  • 2 brushes (a thin one and a bigger one, as seen below)
  • White, green, and red acrylic paint
  • Gold oil paint
  • 1 plastic bowl with water
  • Small wooden palette where you can mix the paint

Some Tips Before You Begin

  • It is easier to make this project when the food can has a kind of a ring-pull mechanism, so that you can open the can by just pulling it. This kind of can is not sharp on its edges.
  • You can use all acrylic paints, as they dry fast.
  • Every time you use the same brush for different color, dip it first in the water and then wipe it with a paper tissue or paper towel.
  • The bigger your can is, the more flower pots you can paint.
  • You can use your imagination and be creative.
  • This craft is good for saving the money you'd ordinarily spend buying planters!

Step 1: Prepare the Empty Food Can

  1. Soak the empty food can in hot water until it's easy to peel off the label.
  2. When you get the label off, flatten the opening side of the can with a small hammer, just in case it's sharp—that way you won't hurt your hand while painting the can. Let the can air-dry, or use a kitchen towel to dry it.
  3. Find a table where you can paint. Put down old newspaper so you can protect your table. Put the paints, the brushes and the other things you need on the newspaper.
  4. Make 3 holes in the bottom of your can.
The can after some layers of white paint.

The can after some layers of white paint.

Step 2: Add a Base of White Paint

  1. If you're right-handed, keep the can in your left hand while the brush is in your right hand. Paint the can towards you or downward and keep it moving while painting. You can see it in the video below.
  2. For the first coat, paint the clean can with a white acrylic color. You don't have to paint the bottom of the can. Let the can dry for at least half an hour (acrylic paint dries easily).
  3. For the second coat, paint the can again with the white acrylic. Let it dry again for at least half an hour.

Step 3: Add Green Paint

  1. Using the thin brush and the green acrylic color, paint the lower part of the can. This will be the grass in your design. Paint the grass as thick as you want it.
  2. With the same brush and the same green color, make green flower pots on top of the grass. How many pots you paint depends on how big your can is.

Step 4: Paint Gold and Red Flowers

  1. Add golden oil paint to your flower pots when the paint is not yet dry. Mix it onto the wet green color of the flower pots.
  2. Put red dots of paint above the flower pots. Then add more red paint to the dots until they resembles flowers.
  3. Paint 1 golden flower between 2 red oblong flowers on top of the grass. These 3 flowers should be in between the big flower pots.

Step 5: Add Green Details and Clean Up

  1. Going back to the green paint, add green branches and the leaves of the flowers in the pots.
  2. Let the painted can dry until the next day. Note: Be careful—if you used oil paint for the gold layer, the golden flowers might not be dry yet. Oil paints dry slower than acrylic paints.
  3. Clean the brushes with warm water and soap after using them.
I planted aloe vera plants in my finished recycled food can.

I planted aloe vera plants in my finished recycled food can.

Video Tutorial

I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.

— Mother Teresa

Keep Safe!

I hope I have given you an idea what to do in your spare time during lockdown and self-quarantine. I hope this coronavirus pandemic will end soon. Please take precautions in going out of the house, wear mask and gloves if possible. Keep social distancing as well. Take care. God help us all. Thank you.

© 2020 Thelma Alberts


Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on August 04, 2020:

Thank you very much Mona for your wonderful comment. You can try this DIY, too.

Take good care of yourself, too. I have heard that the covid positive are increasing in our country. Keep safe.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 25, 2020:

I love doing crafts, even if I am not good at it. You make this project seem so easy to do, and you do it so well. Very lovely idea and certainly, whether it turns out bad or good, one could have a great time making these pots while being indoors. Take good care of yourself, and hopefully, there will be a COVID vaccination sooner than later.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 08, 2020:

Hi Liza,

I am glad that you like my DIY article. Yes, it is a wonderful project not only in summer but all year round. You are very welcome and thank you for dropping by. Have a nice day. Take care.

Liza from USA on July 02, 2020:

Such a great idea! I think this would be a wonderful project for summer. I love having plants inside the house. I love the final result of the flower planter. So cute! Recycling is one of the best things we can do to help the environment. Thank you for sharing, Thelma.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on May 17, 2020:

Thank you very much for dropping by Rajan. It is always nice to see you here. Have a wonderful day.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 15, 2020:

Great job. The video makes it absolutely clear. Thank you for sharing this DIY.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 26, 2020:

Thank you very much Peggy. Have a nice day. Please keep yourself safe.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2020:

I love the idea of recycling as much as possible. Your new planters for plants are very pretty. That last photo with the blooming plant is so pretty!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 21, 2020:

Hi Audrey,

I am glad you enjoyed reading my article and liked my video. It is nice that you will recycle your cans, too. Enjoy making them into planters. You are very welcome and thank you too. Keep yourself safe. Take care.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on April 15, 2020:


I enjoyed this article and like your video. I've been saving my empty cans for planting vegetables. Thank you and stay safe my friend.


Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 12, 2020:

It really helps prevent boredom during our stay at home time. Thank you very much Dora. I hope you have a lovely Easter.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 12, 2020:

You are very welcome Rachel. Have a blessed Easter, too. Thank you.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 12, 2020:

Thank you very much Linda. I hope you have a happy Easter, too.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 12, 2020:

Thank you very much Felisa for your compliment. I hope you have a lovely Easter.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 11, 2020:

Admirable! Thanks for sharing your creative talent. This can help to prevent boredom during the mandatory stay-home period. Really beneficial to all.

Rachel Alba on April 11, 2020:

Hi Thelma, What a great idea. I do have cans in the recycling bin too. Thanks for sharing your idea with us.

Have a Blessed Easter

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 10, 2020:

Your planter is very pretty. Using a food can to grow a plant is a great idea. I hope you have a happy Easter, Thelma.

Felisa Daskeo from Manila, Philippines on April 10, 2020:

Wow. Awesome creations and if everybody will learn to recycle, garbage will be minimized. Thelma Alberts, you are truly a very artistic and creative woman. Thumbs up.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 10, 2020:

Hi Liz. Thank you. I am keeping well. I hope you, too. Happy Easter! Take care.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 10, 2020:

Thank you very much Nell. Have a lovely Easter Holiday. Keep yourself safe.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 10, 2020:

This is a lovely creative idea. It has made me reconsider what I am doing with discarded cans and it's a good craft activity for the lockdown. I hope you are keeping well.

Nell Rose from England on April 09, 2020:

That is such a great idea, Thelma! I remember seeing your pic on Facebook painting the can, so this is lovely seeing the end result. Now I will have to give it a go. Wonderful!