How to Turn an Old Toilet into a Quirky Planter

How to Turn an Old Toilet into a Quirky Planter


Turning an old, unused toilet into a planter is a fun DIY project that gives new life to something otherwise destined for the landfill. Toilet planters make for interesting conversation pieces in the garden or on the patio. In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through all the steps and considerations for transforming a toilet into a functional and stylish planter.

Determine if the Toilet is Suitable

The first step is to inspect the toilet and ensure it will work for converting into a planter.

  • Check that the toilet is standard sized and free of large cracks or damage. Very small hairline cracks are okay.

  • Confirm the tank, bowl, and other hardware are intact. Missing pieces will need to be replaced.

  • Assess if the toilet has an elongated or round bowl. Both styles can work but elongated bowls provide more planting space.

  • Try flushing the toilet to make sure it still functions properly. A working flush helps simplify the cleaning process.

  • Inspect under the tank and bowl for manufacturer stamps. These provide insight into the toilet’s materials. Vitreous china is ideal.

If the toilet passes this inspection, it has potential for conversion into a sturdy, lasting planter.

Thoroughly Clean and Disinfect the Toilet

Now it’s time to give the toilet a deep clean. Here are the steps I take:

  • Scrub the toilet inside and out – Use a stiff bristle brush and abrasive cleaner to remove any grime, rust, or mineral deposits. Pay extra attention to the drain at the bottom and under the rim.

  • Flush with cleanser – Fill the tank and bowl with a bleach-based cleaner or lime deposit remover liquid. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before flushing. Repeat as needed.

  • Remove tank components – Take out the float ball, flapper, and other tank parts. Give them a good scrub before putting aside.

  • Check for odors – Does the toilet retain any musty or unpleasant smells? If so, do an overnight soak with bleach.

The goal is to completely sanitize and deodorize the toilet before planting. A pristine surface helps plants grow their best.

Make Drainage Holes and Modify the Toilet

One key preparation step is to drill drainage holes throughout the bottom of the toilet bowl. This prevents waterlogging.

Use a masonry drill bit to make evenly spaced holes:

  • Mark the drill locations with a pencil. Space holes a few inches apart.

  • Start with a smaller 1/4 inch size bit and work up to 1/2 inch or larger.

  • Drill slowly to avoid cracking the porcelain. Apply firm pressure.

  • Vacuum out drain hole debris when finished. Use a rag to smooth rough edges.

With drainage addressed, now decide if you want to alter the toilet’s tank or seat:

  • The tank can be kept intact or removed. Removal reduces weight and exposes planting space.

  • Unscrew and permanently remove toilet seat hardware. The seat just gets in the way as a planter.

  • Sand rough edges smooth for safety. Wipe away all dust when modifications are complete.

Decide on Aesthetic Touches

To make your toilet planter truly unique, consider adding some aesthetic flourishes. Here are fun ideas to try:

  • Paint the exterior – Spray paint the tank, bowl, and porcelain lid in a color that pops like red or turquoise. Use a bathroom-friendly enamel spray paint.

  • Stencil artwork – Use acrylic craft paints and stencils to add custom artwork like flowers or butterflies onto the tank or sides of the bowl.

  • Attach shelf brackets – For a cute shabby chic look, secure a set of vintage corbels or shelf brackets under the tank to create a planter pedestal.

  • Add a distressed finish – Lightly scuff areas with sandpaper then use a sealant like Mod Podge to give your toilet an antiqued, weathered appearance.

Personalize the look to match your taste and garden style. The options are limited only by your imagination.

Select the Right Potting Mix

Your plant choices will dictate the ideal potting medium, but a standard potting soil works well for most toilet planters.

  • Avoid heavy garden soil – Stick with a commercial blend that’s lightweight and formulated for containers.

  • Incorporate perlite or vermiculite – This helps aerate the soil and improve drainage. Aim for 20-30% amendment mixed in.

  • Use moisture control additives – Water absorbing crystals or wood chips that retain moisture are very useful in toilet bowls.

  • Install drainage layer – Place packing peanuts, small stones, or wood shards in bottom before adding soil.

Prep soil a few inches deeper than the plant’s root ball for healthy growth.

Choose Plants Suited for Toilet Planters

Not all plants thrive in toilets turned planters. Select varieties wisely based on these considerations:

  • Sunlight needs – Does the toilet location receive full sun, partial sun, or full shade? Match plants accordingly.

  • Watering needs – Drought tolerant succulents are easier than thirsty annuals. But drainage holes limit overwatering issues.

  • Toilet bowl space – Compact herbs, flowers, cacti, or trailing vines utilize the unique toilet shape best. Avoid large bushes.

  • Trailing options – Let vines like Pothos or Philodendrons drape over the tank and sides for a playful look.

  • Scented herbs – Rosemary, mint, and basil add sensory appeal. Just don’t plant edibles directly in the toilet bowl. Use containers.

Make sure to thoroughly water all plants immediately after transplanting into the toilet bowl planter.

Caring for Your Toilet Turned Planter

A bit of routine care keeps your toilet planter going strong. Follow these tips:

  • Check soil moisture frequently, especially with shallow-rooted plants. Water whenever the top inch feels dry.

  • Depending on humidity and sun exposure, you may need to water small potted plants daily. Larger shrubs need less frequent watering.

  • Monitor for pests like aphids. Be careful not to overdo fertilizer – the confined toilet bowl can burn plant roots.

  • Rotate trailing plants to encourage even growth towards the light. Prune and trim plants as needed.

  • In very cold climates, you may need to drain water lines and bring the toilet planter indoors before first frost.

  • Replenish the potting mix annually or biannually to refresh nutrients. Clear out weeds and dead leaves regularly.

With routine care, your upcycled toilet planter will supply many seasons of whimsical garden charm and visual interest. The unusual vessel keeps plants thriving with proper drainage and care. Let your imagination run wild designing a unique toilet planter!