Thursday, September 18, 2014

Easy and Cheap DIY Concrete Pumpkin Planter

Ever look at one of those plastic candy buckets and wonder what the heck can I do with this?  Here is a picture of what I am talking about:
Candy buckets
 Turn it into one of these:
Concrete pumpkin
Concrete pumpkin

Since my kids are too old for these now I was looking to re-purpose the ones I have into something interesting.  At least interesting to me:-))  So, since I like working with all things concrete I decided to turn mine into concrete planters.  I had seen similar ideas on pinterest using a styrofoam pumpkin-but I didn't have one of those:-))  Now don't worry-this is easy-even for uncrafty people like me!  Another plus is that it is really cheap.  If you already have the pumpkins on hand you are in luck but if you buy them they are less than $1 a piece.  If you use a sack of pre-mixed concrete (the cheap stuff) it will cost under $3 and it will do 2 planters.  So, if you do 2 of these it will cost less than $5!  Let's get to work creating.

For this project you will need:

1.  One bag of concrete mix or your favorite concrete/hypertufa recipe
2.  2 plastic pumpkin pails
3.  a tub to mix the concrete
4.  Something to mix with-I use my hands or a hand hoe.
5.  Cooking spray
6.  water
7.  An inner mold-a couple of tall cups or similar will work
8.  Something to create a drainage hole-I used a couple of squares (about 1in) of styrofoam that I cut from a big piece.  It has to be "tall" enough for the inner mold to sit on.
 9.  A mask and a pair of gloves (work safe).
If you want to make a reusable mold you will also need:

10. Some duct tape
11. A sharp cutting instrument-I used an exacto knife to cut the pumpkins in half.

After you get all your supplies together we can begin.  The beginning of the instructions will show you how to make a reusable mold if you prefer to just make a pumpkin once then skip down to step 4.

1.  Start by taking a sharp instrument and cut along the "seam" of the pumpkin (which should be on the side not through the face of the pumpkin.  I did the bottom first them the sides like this:
When you are done cutting it should look like this:
2.  Cut off the handle:
Now it is ready to tape back together!
3.  Hold the pumpkin together and begin taping-use smaller pieces of duct tape at first to get a start then you can use bigger pieces to completely tape it back together.  Also-starting at the bottom is easier (at least I thought so).

Tape the bottom up really good!
When you are done they should look like this:
Now we are ready to go!
4.  Spray the inside of the pumpkins and your inner mold with cooking spray or some other mold release-I usually spray it in then wipe it around on the inside.  Also fill your inner mold with some rocks or sand to weigh it down.

5.  Take your styrofoam "spacer and put it down in the middle of the bottom.
6.  Mix up your concrete according to the directions-remember not too much water!
7.  Let it sit for a few minutes if it is NOT quick setting concrete.  If it is quick setting you can begin to fill.
8.  Fill the bottom of the pumpkin but don't cover the styrofoam cube-just fill around it like this:
9.  Set your middle form on top of the cube making sure it is centered (or close):
10.  Fill up the rest of the way pressing it down as you go.  I use an old dowel I have laying around just for this:
11.  When filled to the top Tap on the sides with your hands for about a minute to help release some air bubbles then let it sit and harden for 24-48 hours.  Don't unmold too early or it might fall apart.

12.  When it has hardened you can remove the mold.  If you don't care about keeping the mold just cut off the pumpkin.  If you have taped it up to reuse it all you need to do is cut off the tape.

13. After you unmold it you need to knock out the styrofoam cube in the bottom.  I used a mallet and my trusty dowel for this:
14.  Pull the middle out or keep tapping with the mallet until it releases.  If it is still difficult let it sit in the sun for a while-sometimes that helps.
Here it is ready to cure:
15.  Let it cure for about a week.  You can either put it in a grocery sack and mist it daily or you can fill a container with water and let it soak.  I prefer the water bath:
16.  After a week or two remove the pumpkin from the water bath and let dry.
17.  Seal or paint to your liking-I used rustoleum wet look sealer on mine.  Glow in the dark paint would be really cool!

18.  Plant it up and set it out in your garden or on your steps.  Here is a picture of mine out in my garden:
Concrete pumpkin planter
Concrete pumpkin planter

Concrete pumpkin
I hope you enjoyed this project and remember that you can paint, stain or seal this project any way you want.  Use your imagination!  I really think the glow in the dark paint would be cool-especially if it was just the eyes.  Also, if you made "molds" remove all the tape and wash the inside out really well.  I use Dawn for this.  Don't worry about the outside just the inside and make sure to try and remove any residual concrete then just store until ready to use again.  Good Luck and if you have any questions or comments just leave it below.

Until next time-Happy Planting!




  1. This is AWESOME ! What a great idea ! I'd better get busy ! :)

  2. Why do you need to cure it, and what would happen if you just set it out to dry then used it?
    Love it!

    1. Curing makes the concrete stronger-the first week the concrete gains most of it's strength. If concrete doesn't cure correctly it can be weak and it can crack. I always cure my concrete projects for a minimum of 1 week to ensure that the concrete cures properly. Hope this helps!

  3. What a great idea to repurpose those buckets!

  4. Did you leave the Styrofoam in? How does water get out of your plants? I'm just curious because it seems to me you would want the whole left they are so the water can drain out. Thank you

  5. Did you leave the Styrofoam in? How does water get out of your plants? I'm just curious because it seems to me you would want the whole left they are so the water can drain out. Thank you

    1. You pop out the piece of styrofoam when the pumpkin is set. It is place in the bottom to create a drainage hole without the need for drilling. Hope this helps!

  6. How many lbs of cement do you need?

    1. One 60 lb bag of concrete will make at least 2 pumpkins-with some left over. If you use hypertufa the amount of cement will depend on your recipe but I would guess about 10 pounds.

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