the perfect sized pot.

Late last summer I picked up a vintage metal plant stand at a garage sale.  In my opinion, it already had the perfect rusty, chippy finish although I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would think this needs a fresh paint job.  But I work really hard to replicate a layered finish like this, so there was no way I was painting over it.

I didn’t do anything with this last year, I just put it away in the carriage house to be stored for the winter.  I pulled it out recently to get it ready for gardening season.  I cleaned it well with some soapy water and then once it was dry again I gave it a coat of clear sealer to add a little protection.  I used the Rustoleum matte clear spray, but there are several brands out there that make a similar product.

What I needed next were some pots to fit in the holders it had.  I pulled out some of my clay pots to see what size worked best, and it ended up being my Queen Bee Laundry Co pot, which has a 5.5″ diameter.

I love that pot!  It’s perfectly aged, and quite beat up, but that’s what appeals to me.  I added the graphic using the transfer gel method and you can read more about that here.

But I only had one spare pot this size, so I put the pot in a bag to take with me for size comparison and headed to my local Hobby Lobby.  I thought I’d easily find a selection of clay pots to choose from.  As it turned out, Hobby Lobby had a bigger pot, and a smaller pot, but nothing in this exact size.  So then I went to Michaels.  Same story.  Then I went to Home Depot, and that’s when I started to realize that 5.5″ wasn’t a readily available standard size because they didn’t have it either.  Jeesh!  Who would have thought finding the right sized pot was going to be an issue here?

I finally ended up at my local Menards store and they didn’t have the right size either.  But that was when I decided to make do with the next size up, and at only $1.49 each even if they totally didn’t work I was only going to be out around $6.

So I brought them home and gave them a quick makeover.  I whitewashed them with a very watered down Dixie Belle Drop Cloth paint, added a Classic Vintage Label transfer to each one and then protected them with a coat of clear wax.

Now, at this point you are probably wondering how well the transfers (and the paint for that matter) hold up on the clay pots.  As we all know clay pots are porous on purpose.  That’s so that excess moisture can escape through the clay. So, good for your plants, but not so good for something trying to stick to the outside of the pot (like paint, or a transfer).

Luckily I started a little experiment with similar pots last year just so that I could ultimately answer this question.  I planted a house plant in one, and some geraniums in a couple of others to see how well each held up.

Here is the indoor house plant version …

When I water this plant I put it in the sink, add water, wait for it to drain and then put it back on its saucer.  So, it doesn’t typically get wet on the outside of the pot, but the plant is planted directly into the pot and thus water is seeping through the clay behind the transfer.  If you look closely, you can see that there is some bubbling of the transfer as a result.  The paint is holding up quite well.  Frankly, I didn’t expect results this good.  I thought for sure the transfer would be toast after a year of this, but I think it still looks pretty darn good.

I definitely expected worse results with the two outside pots.  I planted the geraniums in them and left them outside all of last summer.  I watered them with the hose, and they weren’t protected from rain either, so they got plenty wet.  Last fall I brought them in to my office to try over-wintering the geraniums (which, I might add, worked quite well in a bright southern facing window).

I was astonished at how well these pots held up even outside.  Obviously they aren’t fresh as the day they were created, but I rather like the look of them with a little age.

Unfortunately, the paint and transfers do little to protect the pot from breaking when you knock it off the table on the very day you plan to take some photos of it for your blog post.

Drat!  But as you can see from what’s left of it, the transfer on the 2nd outside pot also held up well right up until the pot broke.

Anyway, this brings me back to the pots that aren’t quite the right size for my plant stand.  Here’s how the new pots look in the stand.

I really thought I could live with this look, but the closet perfectionist in me is rebelling.

Here is how the proper sized pot fits in the stand.

Darn it anyway!  I was going to ask all of you to weigh in and let me know if you think I can get away with the larger pots, but I am betting you’ll all agree that they are wrong and I need to keep searching for the 5.5″ diameter pots.

I fear it is back to the drawing board on this one.  I think I’m going to tuck this plant stand back away for now and maybe I’ll get lucky and find the correct sized pots at garage sales this summer (I tend to see a lot of clay pots at garage sales).  Wish me luck on that!

24 thoughts on “the perfect sized pot.

  1. I think the larger pot looks fine. Especially if some of the plant will drape down. But I know when I have a vision it will definitely irritate me til I get it right. So frustrating when it’s off just a hair! But it’s so awesome to see
    How well the pots held up. I just love the aged look that clay pots get so I’m happy to know one can recreate that!


    1. Yep, that’s exactly how I feel. The large pots just don’t quite look right. And somehow I envision this stand filled with geraniums … it would be perfect for a collection of scented geraniums (I’m thinking of my friend Jackie Flaherty, and you can tour her garden here), and those won’t spill over. And I’m with you on the clay pots, I love the way they aged after being used for a year!


  2. I did an online search for 5.5 inch clay pots and while Amazon (and one other that I can’t remember) had them listed, both were “currently unavailable.” The transfers look so adorable on the clay. I hope you find more 5.5 inchers. I’ll look for you when I’m out and about. We spend our summers in Maine and there are abundant yard sales. I always keep a mini tape measure in my purse!


  3. Love the plant stand and agree you need the correct sized pots. Thanks for the “experiment” on winterizing clay pots.Good luck in your search-you will find them when you are not really looking!


  4. I love using the transfer gel method on my clay pots. Easy, cheap and limitless art to choose from. And, yes you’re right is looks completely better with the proper size pot🙂


    1. I absolutely love the look of the pots done with transfer gel … when they turn out. I did 10 pots with transfer gel the last time and only 3 of them turned out, so I felt as though the odds were not in my favor 😉


  5. I just went to Amazon and put in 5.5 clay pots. They have quite a few. If you have prime free shipping!
    I love the look. Either way it is adorable!
    Smiles, alice


  6. Oh Miss Quandie! So much work and thought and coming and going only to end up frustrated! I’m feeling curious about how far apart those four stores were! Lots of busy behind this post…….still hard to believe that you also have a day job (-: Thanks for publishing the results of your worn-pots research and also the result of elbowing a pot off the table! Hahahahaha. If anyone can come across a 5.5 inch pot this summer, it will be you! Keep us posted on that! (-: (-: (-:


    1. Well, to be honest, those store weren’t terribly far apart at all. The first bunch were all within about 2 miles of each other. And the final store was near my work so I popped in on my lunch hour. I have to add that my sister and niece were shopping with me the first time around so they both deserve some sort of medal for patience!


    1. I did see some options on Amazon too, and I do have Prime. But have I mentioned that you’re talking to one of the cheapest people on the planet? I was willing to spend $6 for all 4 in the wrong size, but $24 for the right ones is way too high. And yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds (what is wrong with me anyway?). I’ll put in a little more time to see if I can find them at garage sales, and eventually I may have to give up and order them from Amazon!


  7. Check Amazon-I find everything there! I love your experiment with the pots. The paint and the transfers add so much.


    1. They really do. And I was surfing pinterest the other day and found someone who also adds a Sea Spray type product to the paint and I think I’ll have to try that next time to add even more!


  8. Yep you need the correct size. Can you maybe order them from a nursery/garden store? I hope that you can find some. The pots are great 😊


    1. I haven’t had a chance to check our nursery/garden store, Bachmans, yet. They were closed when we were out shopping that day. But I’ll get there eventually and see what they have!


  9. Did you try Highland Nursery in St. Paul? They usually have a big selection of clay pots in many sizes. (Give them a call to save yourself a trip).


    1. I ended up finding them at Bachmans, but should I check out Highland Nursery this summer? I’ve never been there, and I’m on the lookout for a nursery with a unique selection rather than the same ol’ stuff.


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