Thrifting for Houseplants

So you brought home your top wishlist plant, but didn’t leave any room in the budget for a pot. You could go to a big box store and spend a ton of money on a new pot- or you could go thrifting. 

Thrift stores and flea markets are a fantastic source for inexpensive planting vessels, from glass terrariums to vintage canisters. They’re also great for finding furniture pieces for displaying a houseplant collection. And along with saving money, you’ll have the satisfaction of giving items a new life and giving your home a bit more character.

Here’s our breakdown of what to look for the next time you go thrifting for your plants.

A Mix of Materials

While you can usually find “traditional” ceramic and terracotta pots at most thrift shops, it’s a lot more fun to find unique potting vessels that you can’t find in plant shops. Items like glass bowls and tin cans may not have been created for the purpose of potting houseplants, but they can be adapted fairly easily and have tons more character than store-bought pottery.


Thrift stores never seem to have a shortage of glass vessels, and from huge jars to tiny inkwells glass can be very useful to plant lovers. Smaller bottles can be used for propagating cuttings, and larger glass vessels can be used as terrariums.

Many people shy away from glass because it doesn’t drain. However, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, glass can be great for beginner plant parents. Clear glass allows you to see exactly how wet the plant’s soil is, and when it’s ready for a larger pot you’ll see roots pressed against the glass. It allows you to see problems that would otherwise be hidden from view.

When planting directly in glass, layers are key. For artificial drainage, start with a layer of chunky stones on the bottom. After flowing through the other layers, water will pool in the rocks and not sit on the plant’s roots. The second layer should be botanical charcoal, followed by soil and your plants. 

For the simplest plant care ever, try finding a glass bottle (think a vintage soda bottle with an interesting label) and fill it with water. Grab a cutting from a pothos or other vining plant, place it in the water, and sit back and watch the roots grow.


One fun plant trend is repurposing cans and other metal tins as planters. It’s a great way to reuse items that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and you can use cans you already have around your house. If you’re going thrifting and looking for unique labels, flea markets tend to have a selection of visually interesting vintage cans.

Turning metal cans into planting vessels can be fairly easy. All you’ll need is a tool to drill holes into the bottom for drainage, and paint if you don’t like the look of the can. You can even skip the drilling step if you want, and nest a grow pot inside instead. 


Baskets are a staple for bohemian plant lovers, and are usually pretty expensive when you buy them new. Luckily, they’re an easy thrift store find at a fraction of the cost. They’re also by far the easiest to use with house plants, because you’re simply placing the grow pot in the basket rather than planting in it directly.

Some baskets will come with a plastic liner, making it easy to nest a grow pot inside without any leakage worries. For baskets that don’t come with a liner, you can either buy a plastic tray liner from a plant shop or make your own from plastic wrap or foil.

Planting Outside the Box

When it comes to thrifting and house plants, there are zero rules. If you come across an item that catches your eye (cow creamers, teacups, birdhouses, whatever strikes your fancy) feel free to put a plant in it. Just make sure to add a drainage layer if the vessel doesn’t have a hole in the bottom, or leave the plant in its grow pot.

Displaying with Style

There’s no need to blow your budget, which could be better spent on more green friends, on expensive plant stands. Thrift stores with a furniture section are a treasure trove of end tables, stools, and sometimes even actual plant stands that make great display pieces. Flea markets are also a great place to look for plant display finds.

Macrame hangers are another fun way to display plants, and are a great way to make use of small spaces. Macrame is making a strong comeback these days, but it had its big moment back in the 1970s. It takes a little more thrifting power, but vintage macrame pieces still pop up from time to time.

One final plant display trend is using old ladders as shelving. Simply unfold a ladder (any size will do), position it sideways and place wooden boards across each rung. This gives you lots of shelf space to display plants in an inexpensive and unique way.

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