Vertical Herb Planters

Vertical Herb Planters

Herbs thrive in repurposed aluminum ammunition boxes — found at a military surplus store — suspended from chains against a wall.


Snake Plant Propagation – How To Propagate Snake Plants

Snake Plant Propagation – How To Propagate Snake Plants

Snake plants bring to mind visions of Medusa and are also called mother-in-laws tongue. The plant features sword-shaped leaves — smooth and almost waxy. The easy nature of snake plant care makes it perfect for almost any interior situation and a visually striking and tenacious specimen. The plants are perfect gifts to share with the garden-challenged, as they thrive on neglect and rise above abuse. Learn how to propagate snake plants so you can share this amazing and versatile houseplant.

Basic Snake Plant Care

The snake plant is flexible about lighting and humidity but it is fussy about the amount of water it gets. About the only thing that will kill a mother-in-law tongue is overwatering. It thrives in small pots with crowded rhizomes and has few pest or disease problems.

It is not necessary to fertilize, but if you feel like doing something nice for the plant, use a half dilution of houseplant food once a month during the growing season. These invaluable plants clean the air and enhance the home with tropical beauty. Spread the love by propagating snake plants and give your friends and neighbors a special treat.

How to Propagate Snake Plants

Learning how to propagate snake plants is easy. It’s true that too much water can kill your plant, but rooting a snake plant in water is one of the most foolproof methods. You can also root the plant from cuttings, but the fastest way to get a new snake plant is to divide it. The plant grows out from rhizomes which mass together and multiply as the plant gets older. This method is no different than the one you use on your old perennials in the garden. Pick a method of snake plant propagation and let’s get to making babies.

Rooting a Snake Plant in Water

Choose a container tall enough to hold the leaf. Select a healthy leaf that is not too old and use clean, sharp shears to cut it off. Put the cut end of the leaf in just enough water to cover the bottom quarter of tissue. Place the container in an indirect light situation and change the water every couple of days. Soon you will see little roots. Plant the rooted leaf in sand or peat moss and follow usual snake plant care.

Propagating Snake Plants with Cuttings

This method is really no different than the water method, but it skips a step. Let the cut leaf callus over for a day or two, then insert the cut end into lightly moist sand in a container. Wait a couple of weeks and the plant will root on its own.

Snake Plant Propagation from Division

The mother-in-law tongue plant rises from thick, under-the-soil organs called rhizomes. These house the energy for leaf and stem growth. Pull the plant from its pot and use sharp shears or a hand saw to cut the base apart into sections. Usually just cut it in half unless the plant is really old and has masses of rhizomes. A good rule of thumb is at least three rhizomes plus one healthy leaf per new plant. Plant each new section in fresh potting medium.

Pots with a Personal Touch

Years ago at a flower show, a group of rustic garden containers caught my eye. They were made from a stonelike material known as hypertufa, which mimics a type of rock.

As a crafts editor for Martha Stewart Living and a ceramicist, I was intrigued to learn that the planters were composed of just three accessible, inexpensive substances: perlite, Portland cement, and peat moss.

When I realized pots so impressive could be shaped using basic molds, they became even more appealing. It’s not often that a process as rudimentary as making mud pies yields such a sophisticated result.

Faux Bois Planter Mold

Leaf-Embossed Tabletop Mold

More Container Garden Ideas

Hypertufa was developed in the 1930s to replicate the stone troughs that were popular among English gardeners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The lightweight stand-ins were not only easier to come by, but also easier to transport. Thanks to their porous nature, the pots were ideal for plants needing good drainage. Hypertufa containers are still practical in the garden and simple to create.

To make a pot, you’ll need to fashion a mold from a pair of vessels — the mixture is poured between them. I experimented with various objects, such as milk cartons and metal bowls, and also constructed wooden molds. Because the medium captures subtle textures, baskets and leaves can be rendered in “stone,” while clean-lined molds offer a sleek, modern look.

After making many containers and a couple of tabletops, I found the process quite rewarding. It is not an exact science, which is part of the fun: Every pot has the potential to surprise.

Basic Hypertufa How-To

  1. Choose mold: Make a mold from two nested vessels, so you can pour the mixture in the space between them. Both should have sides that are straight or taper out; the gap between them should be at least ¾ inch for smaller vessels and 1½ inches for larger ones.
  2. Mix materials: Wearing gloves and a dust mask, mix equal parts white Portland cement (gray can be substituted for nontinted vessels), perlite, and peat moss in a large bin; stir in masonry stain if desired. Add water gradually to reach the desired consistency.
  3. Fill mold: Coat vessels with mold-release spray. Pour mixture into the outer mold to a 1-inch depth for smaller vessels or a 2-inch depth for larger ones. Set interior mold inside, centering it (you can fill it with sand to steady it). Continue adding mixture between vessels. Tap exterior with a rubber mallet to minimize bubbles. Cover with plastic; let set.
  4. Finish hypertufa: After removing mold, drill holes into the bottom of pot using a masonry bit, for drainage; smooth the top edge of pot with a planer file. Wrap it with plastic, and let cure for several weeks.

Hypertufas and Molds

Flat-Weave Basket Hypertufa

Flat-weave baskets gave these large containers their checkered finish. A spray of New Zealand flax underplanted with oxalis provides a touch of drama.


Mix 8 quarts peat moss, 8 quarts perlite, and 8 quarts portland cement. Add water until mixture has the consistency of cottage cheese. Makes 1 basket (12 by 13 inches).

Set time and release:

Let set for 36 hours, then gently remove interior container. After another 12 hours, cut away basket.

Wicker Basket Hypertufa

Cast in wicker baskets, these pots feature a ribbed pattern that contrasts with the delicate violas inside.


Wrap exterior of basket with duct tape to help prevent leaks. Mix 8 quarts peat moss, 8 quarts perlite, and 8 quarts portland cement. Add water until mixture has the consistency of cottage cheese. Makes 3 to 4 baskets (3 ½ by 14 inches).

Set time and release:

Let set for 36 hours, then gently remove interior container. After another 12 hours, cut away basket.

Milk-Carton Hypertufas

Milk cartons used as molds create cube-shaped hypertufa vessels, each sized for a single succulent. The tint variations are achieved by mixing in masonry stains.


Mix 3 quarts peat moss, 3 quarts perlite, and 3 quarts portland cement. Mix in 13 1/2 tablespoons masonry stain (1 ½ tablespoons per quart). Add water until mixture has the consistency of cottage cheese. Makes 3 to 4 small boxes (4-inch cubes or 4 by 4 by 5 inches).

Set time and release:

Let set for 24 hours, then gently remove interior container. After another 24 hours, tear away carton.

Bowl Hypertufas

These rounded pots owe their smooth, elegant forms to a kitchen workhorse: the metal mixing bowl, in two sizes. Masonry stain added to the basic hypertufa formula imparts a cool blue hue. Mixed groupings of dwarf plants — confiers, ground covers, and hostas — fill the hemispheres.

For a 6-by-11-inch bowl, mix 2 quarts peat moss, 2 quarts perlite, and 2 quarts portland cement; for a 7-by-14-inch one, use 3 quarts of each. Mix in masonry stain (1 1/2 tablespoons per quart). Add water until mixture has the consistency of cottage cheese.

Set time and release:
Let set for 36 hours, then gently remove interior container. After another 3 days, turn bowl over, and tap bottom with a rubber mallet to remove hypertufa.

Hypertufas and Molds

Lightweight Concrete Containers

These lightweight concrete containers are ideal for succulents or alpine plants, which have adapted to growing on rocky ledges and shallow soil.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • One gallon peat
  • One gallon “Portland” cement
  • One gallon perlite
  • Large and small bins
  • Water
  • Lid
  • Plastic bag
  • Drill, optional
  1. Make the cement mixture in bin using one gallon peat, one gallon “Portland” cement, and one gallon perlite. Wear mask to avoid breathing dust and use gloves when mixing, as concrete can burn hands.
  2. Slowly add approximately 2½ quarts of water as if you were making dough, being sure to add the last part of water slowly. Humidity can affect how much water you need.
  3. The mixture should clump in your fist and hold its shape.
  4. Transfer mixture to a smaller bin. Use any container to shape. If you use metal, oil the interior to prevent binding. Shape mixture into bin. To avoid suction, use a flexible container. Pack very tightly to bottom and sides.
  5. Place a lid on bin to prevent mixture from drying unevenly, which affects curing. Place in plastic bag.
  6. Leave in bin for 2 to 3 days to dry.

7. Remove planter from bin. Turn it upside down, being careful not to drop it. Dust loose concrete from the top edges.

8. Let this air dry for another week.

9. To create optional drainage, drill holes in bottom.

10. Fill planter with shallow-rooting arrangement.

Making History: Aging Pots

Like many objects of value, terra-cotta pots take on character as they age. The clay darkens, assuming a whitish cast from fertilizers and the minerals in water. When kept in the shade and watered frequently, the pots gradually acquire a verdant sheen of algae or moss. But you dont have to wait for that look. These six easy techniques help pots undergo a transformation in weeks — if not sooner. Start now and you’ll enjoy their vintage charm this summer and for many more seasons to come.

Get the How-to for Aging Pots with Lime


Accelerate the appearance of white deposits by filling the pot with a highly concentrated fertilizer solution for a few weeks. Pots aged this way are safe for plants, because the salts won’t wash from the pot to the soil.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Wine cork
  • Candle
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  1. Plug pot’s drainage hole with a wine cork. (A standard cork will fit a 10-inch pot perfectly. For smaller pots, whittle the cork; for larger ones, slice additional corks to fit, and wedge in place.)
  2. Light candle. Drip wax over cork on outside of pot to seal. Let cool.
  3. Fill pot with water. (Hard water accelerates the aging process.)
  4. Add 5 times more fertilizer than package directions recommend. Stir until dissolved. Set aside until deposits appear. Replenish water as needed. The longer the pots sit, the more dramatic the effect. Remove water, wax, and cork.


One of the most natural-looking patinas can be achieved by simply slathering plain yogurt on a new pot. Yogurt applied to dry pots yields more dramatic results. For a subtler look, above, first soak pots in water for 15 minutes.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Plain yogurt
  • 2-inch foam brush
  1. Stir yogurt.
  2. Use brush to coat surface of pot with yogurt, covering it completely.
  3. Set aside in a shaded place until pot achieves the desired look, at least 1 month.

Buttermilk and Moss

Combining buttermilk and moss to encourage moss growth is a common tactic. The moss serves to hold the runny buttermilk in place and vary the texture as well as to promote growth.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Moss (or sheet moss)
  • Buttermilk
  • 2-inch foam brush
  1. If you’ve gathered your own moss, remove as much soil as possible. Tear moss into small pieces, removing materials such as bark and pine needles.
  2. Pour buttermilk into a bowl, add moss, and combine.
  3. Use brush to paint the mixture over pot.
  4. Set aside in a shaded place until you like the look.
  5. If desired, use a metal-bristle brush to remove any heavy clumps of moss, as with the pot above.

Clay Soil

It’s easy to make a pot appear as if it had been unearthed in an archaeological dig. Just apply soil found in your backyard. Moist soils with high clay content are ideal, as they adhere to terra-cotta best.

  • Tools and Materials
  • Clay soil
  • Flexible wire brush
  1. Rub soil over surface of pot, moistening the soil with a little water if it doesn’t stick.
  2. Place pot in a shaded area for at least 1 month while soil bonds.
  3. Brush pot to create a varied, textured surface.

Water and Sunlight

Sometimes, the simplest methods bring the most satisfying results. This handsome pot was soaked in a tub of water until algae grew on its surface. Algae grows best in the sun, so be sure that vessels sit in bright locations and that water is replenished as it evaporates.

Tips and Tricks

Each technique will yield unique results, although a few common truths apply to the various methods.


It’s fine to use dairy products that aren’t fresh or have expired. Low-fat products will work, but higher-fat versions tend to be thicker and therefore less likely to drip off.


To achieve an authentic appearance, vary the thickness of the materials and the direction of application. Look to true aged pots for inspiration.

Storage Sites

Shaded locations are ideal for most pots while they “age.” Do not stack the pots. Spray them occasionally with water, or place them where rain can reach them. Pots coated with food products may smell strongly for a few days after the ingredients have been applied; keep them away from living areas.


The longer a pot sits, the more pronounced the effect will be. It’s up to you to decide when you think it’s ready. Most pots will continue to “age” even as they are being used .Be creative Try combining methods for different effects.