Galvanized Washtub Planter Ideas

Use galvanized washtub planter ideas in the landscape to create a dazzling flowering display. Creating a unique container gardening idea, old vintage wash tubs can be loaded with annuals or perennials, forming a brilliant season-long vivid arrangement. Placed on the front porch or in the yard, galvanized tub planters are beautiful in any location.

Old Yard Tub Planter

At the very end of March, flowers filled the greenhouse tables with vibrant colors of annuals tucked in tiny black planters. I knew, living in Missouri, I was taking my chances that tender annuals could be lost to a cold frosty morning.

The long dark days of winter had lingered, and the charming warmer days of spring had me desiring to plant all the growing things. One particularly sunny day, I strolled through the large front door of a local greenhouse. I was greeted by an employee who remembered me from years past.

“Here for the white geraniums and black petunias,” she asked.
“Yes, of course,” I answered with a smile and chuckle. She led the way down through the gravel walkway, pointing out just what I was on the hunt for.

I gathered a box from the top of the shelf and filled it with tall white geraniums. Then, walking back to the front of the store, I placed my box on the corner of the small store counter. Up and down the gravel walkway, I wandered, reading tags, picking up plants, putting them back, making decisions for just what I wanted in each of my old flea market find washtub planters.

Galvanized Wash Tub Stand

Eventually, I paid for my purchase, and with the help of the store employee, we loaded the plants in the vehicle, and I headed for home. Shopping for plants is a great idea any day and like therapy for my soul.

Arriving home, I unloaded all of the plants and sat each box on the ground. Then, standing back, I admired the combination of plants that would spend the summer thriving in old charming washtub planters as rustic decor for the garden.

I arranged and rearranged the potted plants with joy until I was satisfied with how they would fill, spill, and thrill inside their new home for the season ahead in my garden space.

Below, I have shared detailed information on my thought method as I plant flowers in old metal buckets or better known as wash tub planters. As well as sharing which flowering annuals and perennials are used in the metal tub containers.

Wash Tub Planter

Supplies Needed to Plant Flowers in Old Galvanized Washtubs

  • Potting Mix: healthy soil matters, and when planting in containers, use a high-quality potting mix. The Organic Potting Mix I use is a mixture of peat moss, composted bark, and perlite.
  • Gardening Gloves: while not a necessary item, gardening gloves help keep dirt from under fingernails.
  • Wash Tub Planters: Gathered over the years from yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops and passed down to my grandmothers, my collection has grown. I have a double square wash tub planter with sturdy legs, two round wash tub planters on stands, and several single squares and round ones. Washtub reproductions can be found online in various sizes and styles.
  • Plants: depending on the size of the metal wash tub planter, plant annuals, or perennials in the container. I share some of my personal beloved plants farther down in this post.
Wash Tub Planter Ideas

How to Make a Planter from an Old Washtub

Large and long-lasting, galvanized planters, such as old wash tubs, make my favorite projects for container gardening easy with these easy-to-follow tips.

  • Location – once galvanized washtub planters are filled with potting mix and flowers, they will be heavy and burdensome to move. Before filling the washtub, consider the needs of the flowers. Do they need shade or sun? Plan accordingly, and place the large galvanized tubs where you can enjoy them all season long.
  • Drainage – most of the old galvanized bucket wash tubs that I have acquired on flea marketing adventures or passed through generations already have large drainage holes in the bottom. Without proper drainage, plant roots can rot, causing the plant to die. If there are no drain holes, drill a few small holes in the bottom. The holes only need to be large enough that allow excess water to drain out the bottom.
  • Soil – add potting mix, which is specifically designed for planters. To reduce the amount of soil needed to fill the container, add rocks to the planter’s bottom before adding potting mix. However, when planting perennials in old washtubs, fill it full of the potting mix so that the plant has plenty of soil to root in.
Galvanized Wash Tub Planters

Advice for Planting in Galvanized Washtub

  • Sun or Shade: When purchasing flowers for planting in washtub planters, consider the needs of the flowering plants. Reading the labels will help to distinguish if sun or shade is needed and the amount of water each one will need to receive.
  • Color Combinations: a wide assortment of colors and textures are available to choose from for planting flowers in containers. In years past, I have used all white flowers. This year, I chose to combine black, white, and a bit of purple. Proven Winners shares an informative post on color design ideas.
  • Placement: My preferred way of planting flowers is the “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” method. Thrillers are plants that add height. Spillers drape over the edge of the container, and fillers make the container look complete.
Plants for Wash Tub
  • Save Plant Tags: Tuck plant tags into the soil at the back of the pot or store them in a place that is easily referenced back too. This helps identify the plants during the growing season and what you may want to purchase or not purchase the next year.
  • Fertilize: Growing flowers in washtub planters require feeding. I have had great success using Oscomote Plus at the time of planting. When planting, add 1 teaspoon for each bedding plant-sized plant. For a 4″ pot, use 2 teaspoons. Work the fertilizer into the hole with the dirt and then plant. Water and rain will slowly release the fertilizer and feed the plants all season long.
  • Deadhead: To keep flowering plants looking pretty through the seasons, remove broken leaves, and spent flowers. If the plant gets leggy, prune it back.
  • Water: watering will be essential during the blazing days of summer. Flowers growing in washtub planters will dry out quickly, and many times, the flowers will need to be watered on an everyday basis.
Outdoor Wash Tub Planter

How Do You Plant Flowers in an Old Galvanized Washtub?

  • Clean up Annuals: Before planting, remove any dead leaves or flowers on the plants. If any weeds are present in the flower pots, remove them before planting.
  • Slide Plants out of Pot: Tenderly slide plants out of the pots by pressing on the sides of the container. Never pull the plant straight out of the planter as this can break off stems and damage the plant.
  • Loosen Plant Roots: Roots can become bound if the plant grows in the container for a long time. This will cause the roots to grow in the shape of the container and be bound around in the soil. To loosen the roots, use your fingers to divide the roots. This will help ensure that the plant begins to root properly in the washtub planter.
  • Tuck Plants in the Soil: It is always a good idea to tuck the plants into the soil at the same depth originally planted in the pot. Add the soil around the plant and lightly firm the soil down to keep the plant upright.
  • Water: After planting, water the plants in the container. Use a watering can to gently water the plants as a garden hose can apply too much pressure, resulting in damage to the flowering plants. It is essential not to let the soil in washtub planters dry out completely. Adding mulch one inch from the base of the plants will help to preserve moisture.
DIY Wash Tub Planter
Supertunia Latte, Euphorbia, Dracaena Spikes and White Geraniums

How do You Arrange Plants Planter

Arranging flowering plants in a washtub planter will depend much on particular preferences. When potting plants, the reality is, plants are highly versatile, and there is no “right” answer. Nevertheless, here are a few considerations to consider arranging those plants for the greatest impact.

  • Plant by Spacing Suggestion: Examine the data on the plant tag that came with the plant. Plant flowering plants in the container by the suggestion on the tag to allow for enough space. Planting where enough spacing is given among the plants requires patience while waiting for the planter to look extravagant. In addition, plants are commonly healthier in less crowded containers as greater airflow is available, allowing the foliage to dry more quickly, helping to limit disease.
  • Crowd the Plants: Putting as many plants as possible into the container is another idea for arranging plants. In doing so, the planters look complete instantly. This is often a great plan if you need a container planting to look wondrous right away. Yet, if not given enough room, the roots can become restricted or have more disease problems from reducing airflow amongst the plants.
galvanized washtub planter ideas
Verbena, Black Mama Petunias, Geraniums
  • Spread Habit: How many plants are placed in a washtub planter may depend on the spreading habit of the plant. Some types spread quite vigorously, growing swiftly and overflowing in the entire planter. Other types are more compact and have upright characteristics, which may require more than the suggested amount to make the planter seem full.
  • Thrill, Spill, and Fill: Thrillers are frequently placed either in the center or at the back of a container. Thrillers are plants that add height and an upright element to the planter combinations. Fillers are essential for making planters look full and placed in front of or around the thriller plants. Spillers are placed at the edge and spill over the side of the planters.
How to Plant in Washtub PlanterFlower Plant Combination
Plants on the left were planted on March 30 . On May 20 the planters look beautiful as the plants have grown and filled the planter.

Wash Tub Flower Planter Ideas

Flowering annuals and perennials can be planted in old vintage wash tub planters. For wash tub planters filled with annuals to remain charming all season long, look for annuals that bloom all summer or have foliage that remains attractive.

Hardy perennials and compact shrubs can also be planted in washtub planters and will grow back from year to year. Utilizing perennials helps curb the expense of purchasing annuals each year and some provide year-round enjoyment.

Old Wash Tub Flower
Supertunia Latte and Euphorbia

Plant Combination Ideas for Container Gardens


While there are many annuals available to purchase in garden centers, these are the plants that I seem to be drawn to year after year. So, here are some washtub planter ideas for annuals.

  • Geraniums: long-blooming, heat tolerant, and a continuous bloomer, Geraniums are my personal favorite for use as a thriller in many of my washtub planters. Geraniums require regular deadheading to remain beautiful throughout the season.
  • Supertunia Latte: long, continuous bloomer, Supertunia Latte can be used for a thriller and spiller effect in container planting. You won’t need to deadhead it to keep it thriving and is a strong healthy, vigorous growing plant. Alluring to both hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Verbena: fulfilling the role of a spiller in container plantings, Verbena is a white blooming trailing plant. Heat tolerant and requires no deadheading.
washtub planter idea
  • Euphorbia: dainty and frilly, Euphorbia is a go-to annual for use as a filler in any planting container. Planted in the sun or shade, this plant produces little white flowers all season long. Heat and drought tolerant and requires no deadheading, Diamond Frost Euphorbia is one of my all-time personal favorite plants.
  • Crazytunia Black Mamba: an easy filler plant that blooms with a lovely black flower that reminds me of velvet. This is a personal favorite of mine that the butterflies and hummingbirds also find beautiful. Some deadheading is required to keep the plant looking amazing through the earliest frost.
  • Dracaena Spikes: utilized as an annual for adding a thriller interest to mixed plantings. Grown for foliage, heat tolerant, and requires no deadheading.
Double Wash Tub Planter
Binoche Coral Bells

Wash Tub Planter Ideas for Perennials

Planting in a large wash tub planter is a great way to plant hardy perennials and small shrubs that can be enjoyed from year to year. In addition, ornamental grasses, small roses, and evergreens are excellent for planting in containers. So, here are some washtub planter ideas for perennials that are currently planted in my gardens.

  • Wee White Hydrangea: growing in the sun or part shade, and only 2 1/2 feet tall, the Wee White Hydrangea is the perfect container size. A dwarf “Annabelle” type hydrangea with white flowers blooming all summer.
  • Binoche Coral Bells: a compact herbaceous evergreen perennial with tall flower stalks held above a low mound of foliage. Flowering in dainty spikes of creamy white bell-shaped flowers and having attractive large leaves. A good plant for attracting hummingbirds to your yard. This perennial grows well in both full sun or shade. However, it prefers to grow in average to moist conditions and not dry out.
  • Susan William Ellis Rose will be the first rose that I am container planting. It will arrive in a few weeks as a bare root rose, which I will plant the same as I did with my climbing bare root rose. The Susan William Ellis Rose is a pure white English Rose. With a mature growth of 4 1/2ft  3 1/2ft, I will plant this rose in a large galvanized washtub with a stand. It is remarkably winter hardy, with upright, bushy, twiggy growth.
Vintage Yard Wash Tub
Wee White Hydrangea

Inspirational Spring Planting Reads

While vintage wash tubs can be used for a variety of uses, giving them new life as flower planters is an easy way to add some farmhouse decor to your landscaping, front or back porch. The perfect size galvanized planter can fill a void in the flower garden while waiting for plants to grow or become a permanent fixture that will last for years to come.

Thank you so much for stopping by Rocky Hedge Farm today! I hope this post inspires you to gather your own vintage wash tubs as DIY project planters.

Thank you for sharing!

10 thoughts on “Galvanized Washtub Planter Ideas”

  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas…just in time! I found a rusty stock tank for a song and wanted to fill it. Maybe sunflowers… I’m thinking I’ll put some styro-foam in the bottom to reduce the amount of dirt needed, and the weight. Do you have any other suggestions for a planter that’s so large?

    • I definitely think that styrofoam is a great idea! Rocks are great if you know the location will not change for the stock tank, but styrofoam is a great idea to keep it lightweight. I would think that sunflowers would be simply gorgeous growing in an old stock tank. I have two, and while I have one filled, I need to work on the other one.

  2. Thank you so much for all these ideas for planting flowers. I have a square and round tub and can’t wait to fill them up.

  3. Loved this article.
    It’s nice to get other ideas about container gardening. One tends to do the same ol’ thing every year which can get boring. thanks for a great article.

  4. Thank you so much. The stands come with my washtubs. They are vintage and probably very old but that is how I purchased them or had them given to me.


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