This year, I’m not even going to try. Every spring, with ridiculous optimism (and a bit of amnesia), I fill all my small terra cotta pots with plants and disperse them around my little patio. They look great—for about a week, until the extremely arid Colorado climate and the intense southern sun on my patio fry them. No amount of water can keep them alive. So this weekend—before I’m even tempted by my local garden center’s herbs and flowers—I’m turning all those little pots into candle holders.
Former Natural Home & Garden art director Susan Wasinger, who came up with this simple project, says that candlelight is the only thing that can compete with moonlight in a garden. She uses these pots of colored light to illuminate her garden paths and serve as a rustic centerpiece for outdoor dining. And they couldn’t be easier: Just give your pots a quick swipe of paint, pour in a bit of sand and add a votive candle.
Pretty Pot Lights
• Apply a pale-colored low-VOC latex exterior grade paint to the inside surface of a small terra cotta planter. Try gloss for maximum reflection, flat for a warmer, subtler glow.
• To get a range of tones, use white paint as your base and add small amounts of different pigments. Alternatively, most paint retailers now sell tiny containers of sample paint. Buy a few, then mix them to extend your palette.
• Use a brush, sponge or cloth to paint the pot interiors, stopping at the top edge.
• When dry, cover the hole with tape or a pebble, add a bit of sand and a votive candle. Enjoy!
For this project, you need only some small terra cotta pots, paint, sand and votives. Photo by Susan Wasinger