Growing Plants In Shoes – How To Make A Shoe Garden Planter

Old shoe used in garden design
Image by sever180

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Popular websites are rife with clever ideas and colorful pictures that make gardeners green with envy. Some of the cutest ideas involve shoe garden planters made of old work boots or tennis shoes. If the ideas have piqued your creative side, repurposing old shoes as plant containers isn’t as tricky as you might think. Just unleash your imagination and have fun with shoe planters in the garden.

Ideas for Shoe Garden Planters

When it comes to shoes as plant containers, think fun and fanciful, quirky and cute! Pull those old purple crocs from the bottom of your closet and turn them into miniature hanging baskets for herbs or trailing lobelia. Has your six-year-old outgrown her neon yellow rain boots? Will you really wear those orange high heels again? If the footwear holds potting soil, it will work.

How about old, worn out work boots or those hiking boots that give you blisters? Got bright red Converse high-tops? Remove the laces and they’re ready to go. If you don’t have any funky footwear that piques your imagination for shoe garden planters, you’re bound to find plenty of possibilities at a thrift shop or neighborhood yard sale.

How to Grow Plants in Shoes or Boots


Unless you’re using hole-y shoes or your old crocs with drainage holes already built in, the first step to growing plants in shoes successfully is to create drainage holes. If the shoes have soft soles, you can poke a few holes with a screwdriver or large nail. If the soles are hard leather, you’ll probably need a drill.

Once you’ve created drainage, fill the shoes with a lightweight soilless potting mix. Likewise, you can choose to stick a smaller container (drainage included) into the shoe or boot whenever feasible.

Plant the shoes with relatively small plants such as:

If you have space, combine an upright plant with a vine that will trail down the side of your shoe garden planter.

Be sure to water regularly. Plants in containers, including old shoes, tend to dry out quickly.

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