Get Tipsy

Most gardeners grow up only when they run out of room to grow sideways. Here's a fun way to make the most of that situation: a flowerpot tower.

Most gardeners grow up only when they run out of room to grow sideways. Here's a fun way to make the most of that situation: a flowerpot tower.

This project has a small footprint, which makes it perfect for any neglected corner of your garden. In about two hours, you can turn a dull square foot of space into a lush and light-hearted attention grabber.

Though the tower looks like it's about to collapse, it's actually very sturdy. A piece of rebar threaded through the pots keeps them in place. Follow these steps to create your own tipsy flower tower.


  • One piece of 1/2-inch rebar, 66 inches long
  • One 12-inch terra cotta pot
  • Four smaller terra cotta pots, in graduated sizes
  • Large bag of potting soil for outdoor containers (20 or 30 lbs.)
  • Sledgehammer
  • Trowel
  • Gloves
  • Scissors
  • Coffee filters
  • Optional: Newspapers, mulch

Plant List

Choose plants that are right for the site you've chosen for example, if it's a hot, sunny spot, look for full-sun plants that tolerate heat and drought. Our location was in part shade, so we chose plants that thrive in those conditions:

  • Double impatiens (Impatiens wallerana 'Balfiepurp' Fiesta Purple)
  • Lobelia (Lobelia erinus 'Loboudtis' Laguna Sky Blue)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Fairway Mosaic')
  • Vinca vine (Vinca major 'Expoflora')


  • To save money, buy a single large hanging basket full of plants like lobelia or fuchsia, then divide and distribute them among the pots. The plants will dangle beautifully, making the tower lush and softening the pots edges.
  • You'll also need fillers like upright and mounding plants that will add bulk and size. (You don't have to worry about a tall, spiky "thriller--the tower itself is your thriller.) Why not use some herbs? Most have beautiful foliage, and they love the dryish climate of a pot. They smell great, and you'll have them at your fingertips for summer meals.
  • Don't fill pots all the way to the brim with soil. Make the soil level with the ground, not with the pot, otherwise water will run off the slanted soil and over the pots edge.
  • You can use pots of just about any color, size, or material. Just be sure they all have a drainage hole and an angle (wider at the top than the bottom).
  • We used graduated sizes, smallest at the top, but this project also works with pots of the same size. The pot on the very bottom should be largest, though.
  • Leave an inch or so of rebar standing above the top of the top pot, for stability. It's easy to hide it with a plant.
  • If you used terra cotta pots, dismantle the pot tree before winter. Otherwise, the pots may crack or shatter.


  • Pick a flat spot with about 1 square foot of space.
  • Hammer the rebar at least 1 foot into the ground with a sledgehammer.
  • If you're building the tower on turf, place several layers of newspaper at the base of the rebar, covering the turf completely. (This will help keep the weeds down.)