Purses and Totes Turned Planters

02/15/2019 | Ken Davis Houseplants, In the Garden, Plant Care

by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s Garden Gal

Unusual containers are gardening fun.  Heading to a thrift store to hunt down the perfect planters on the cheap and then figuring out how to use them is a fun way to spend an afternoon with a girlfriend.  On our last trip we spotted this tote in a thrift store for three bucks and just couldn’t resist.  Back home I recalled a similar bag in an upstairs closet. . . .  and that’s how we acquired the two bags in our photo! 

Not being waterproof, they only will last for a couple of seasons; but, hey, the one was only three dollars! 

A significant concern is making sure the new planters will look good for an entire season.
Drainage holes, lining the bag to minimize water damage, and the use of succulents all make this project viable.  Somehow, in a feng shui kind of way, succulents just look right with their strange and beautiful textures against the materials of the bags.  Succulents don’t require much water so, no matter the fabric of the purse, it could last for a year. 

I used a similar technique for planting yellow patent leather stilettos! This idea can be adapted to change many other thrift store finds into containers.

What You Need
Heavy duty plastic bag
Succulent and Cactus potting soil
Small purse, shoes, or another unique container
Combination of succulents and or sedums
Sharp scissors

I used a heavy ziplock bag, but you can use any plastic bag.  It will depend on the size of the purse.

Make sure to use a high-quality succulent and cactus potting soil.  We have an excellent one here at Watters.

When choosing a container consider how you will hang or display it and what kind of plants would look good together. The technique I used for the totes can be used for shoes, bags, gloves, and many other items I haven’t even considered.

Because of their drought tolerance, a combination of succulents and sedums is good for ease of care and for season-long beauty.  This simple creativity looks great for backyard parties, weddings, and corporate events, so fill the purse with all the plants you can squeeze into it.

Drainage – It’s surprising how much water a well-made leather bag can hold, so I found it’s best to cut a hole in the bottom of the bag where it can’t be seen.  Even when a bag is hung from a post a strategically placed drainage hole is best.  Sharp pruners or scissors work well to cut a 1- inch hole in the bottom of the container. It doesn’t have to be tidy, but it does have to be reasonably large so water can drain away.  Also, it needs to be close enough to the bottom of the bag so that water doesn’t pool, causing the roots to steep and rot. I use my finger to poke a relatively long piece of the plastic liner through the hole,  then cut off the end of the bag so water can escape.

Fill the plastic bag with Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil to within 1” from the top of the purse, leaving room for the plants.  Tamp down lightly with your hand.  Trim the plastic bag, so it is just above the soil line.

Planting Your Purse – Mix and match to make your plantings fun; there is no right or wrong way to fill the planter.  Succulents like Hens and Chicks are so endearing and somehow comforting that they are good candidates for purse/tote planters.  We must have a dozen different captivating varieties at the garden center at any given time.  Be sure to press down on the planted soil so the roots will have solid footings.  You might have to remove some of the bottom leaves depending on the container.  Either that or slightly mound the soil at center above the edge of the bag. Pack in enough succulents so no dirt is visible, or apply a topdressing of small stones, glass beads, gravel, or moss.

Give the planted container a heavy soaking until water is dripping out of the drainage hole. Water at least once per week, feeding with Watters ‘Flower Power 52’ twice per month.  When lined with a plastic bag it’s surprising how long a purse planter can go between waterings.  

Design Help – If you find a real thrift gem and just don’t know where to start, bring it to Watters.    If I’m busy, we have an entire team of garden enthusiasts that love helping with fun garden projects like this one.

Pinterest Board created for even more ideas ‘Repurposed Handbags, Tote and Household Containers’.

Even Easier – Try hanging an elegant evening bag indoors “planted” with decorative Tillandsias, aka air plants. No soil is needed; simply place a combination of air plants in the decorative bag.  Once a week take each plant out of its purse and deep soak in the bathroom sink for an hour.  It’s that easy. 

Until the next issue, I’ll be helping friends plant their own stylin’ purse gardens here at Watters Garden Center. Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through her web site at Watters Garden Center.com