How to Recycle an Empty Can Into a Flower Planter

Updated on May 15, 2020
Thelma Alberts profile image

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. | Source

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. | Source

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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The brushes I used.This is an easy kind of can to open. That's what I prefer to use for this DIY project.
The brushes I used.
The brushes I used. | Source
This is an easy kind of can to open. That's what I prefer to use for this DIY project.
This is an easy kind of can to open. That's what I prefer to use for this DIY project. | Source

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. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is after I started painting the grass with green acrylic paint.Now the flower pots above the grass are painted. Golden flowers were added, too.
This is after I started painting the grass with green acrylic paint.
This is after I started painting the grass with green acrylic paint. | Source
Now the flower pots above the grass are painted. Golden flowers were added, too.
Now the flower pots above the grass are painted. Golden flowers were added, too. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The golden oil paint was added to the green of the painted flower pots. Red dots were added on top of the pots.Paint some red flowers between the golden flowers, which are above the grass.
The golden oil paint was added to the green of the painted flower pots. Red dots were added on top of the pots.
The golden oil paint was added to the green of the painted flower pots. Red dots were added on top of the pots. | Source
Paint some red flowers between the golden flowers, which are above the grass.
Paint some red flowers between the golden flowers, which are above the grass. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Branches and leaves are added to the red flowers.Then I painted the red flowers a bit bigger than before.
Branches and leaves are added to the red flowers.
Branches and leaves are added to the red flowers. | Source
Then I painted the red flowers a bit bigger than before.
Then I painted the red flowers a bit bigger than before. | Source

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. | Source

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

Comments

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    • Thelma Alberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 days ago from Germany and Philippines

      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.

    • lizmalay profile image

      Liza 

      13 days ago from USA

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      2 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

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

    • Thelma Alberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      2 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      2 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      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.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      3 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Thelma

      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.

      Audrey

    • Thelma Alberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • Thelma Alberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

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

    • profile image

      Rachel Alba 

      3 months ago

      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

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 profile image

      Felisa Daskeo 

      3 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • Thelma Alberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Alberts 

      3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

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

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      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 profile image

      Nell Rose 

      3 months ago from England

      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!

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