I’ve been making these for a long time. Sadly though, I dumped over half-a-dozen when we last moved house. I’m a shocking mover and when I move I clear stuff out meaning for the next few months I’m kept wondering “where on earth did that go?” It’s a shame. But these things at least are easily made again and a great excuse to go and purchase a coconut, that is if you can’t conveniently shimmy up the nearest palm tree and cut yourself one, now that’s an eco-friendly option!
I went to the store and purchased my well-traveled coconuty friend all wrapped in non-recyclable, non-degradable, food-grade cling wrap. Two actually. One for each of the kids.
Here’s what you need:
Plants or cuttings
String or twine
Dirt (not pictured)
Straws (for the kids)
First you need to cut the top off. There is a bit of a knack to this. I find the knife pictured is perfect for this job. If you don’t have one like it a chef’s knife should work, but use care! The coconut is young so the shell is not outrageously hard, but enough so.There are two ways you could go, either slice off the pointy end or the flat end. The flat end is the side with the three holes (all coconuts have three holes on one end, it is the access point for getting to the coconut water when they have matured). So if you want a well draining coconut planter slice off the pointy end, leaving the holes at the bottom of the shell, if you want a more damp planter slice off the flat end. I have done one of each here.You need to crack through to the flesh – but only just otherwise you will have water everywhere. If you go too far, it’s really ok, just a bit messy. I’ve not quite got through above so one more slice should do it.
There now, send it off with a straw to a kid.
When they’ve drunk it dry, open up that hole a bit more (just a few more slices around the rim) and have them scoop out the flesh. No fear all of this coconut is very good for them!
Okay, now it’s your turn. First thing to do is slice off the thick outer husk. Keep the remains, this is coir which is inexhaustibly useful and if you don’t end up making a mat, broom, mattress or coat out of it you can just whiz it up to turn into a fabulous seed raising mix or if you’re too lazy, just chuck it into your compost or garden as is. Simple, hey!
Here’s what you’re left with:
That is the one I’ve cut the three holes out of up the top.
This is the one with the holes below. As you can see one was not fully developed which has left me with a gaping hole. The drainage through that is a bit steep so I’ve plugged it up with one of the pieces salvaged from a top slice.
Okay, so that was easy. This is the tricky part. We’re going to use what I call the Dreamcatcher Weave to lock our shell into a hanging planter. The important thing here is to go slowly and gently.
You’ve got to start at the top of the shell as any lower and the coconut is liable to fall out with a strong gust of wind (I learned that one in the trenches!). You can see here that I’ve replaced my rustic twine with a white cotton thread. Twine is stronger, a hemp string would be even stronger, but I like the white cotton and it’s such an elegant contrast next to the coconut shell I think!
Cut a length of string 12 times as long as the width of your coconut and roll it into a little ball. Loosely wrap the thread around the opening of the planter and, leaving a 50cm length of string for it to hang by, tie a simple knot to secure your perimeter, this is the base ring. Tuck the 50cm length into the planter and use the rest of the string to make your weave.
Now gently take your ball over and under that top, base ring pulling it out each time so that it kind of looks like a flower. You’ll need to do this between 6-7 times around the length of the base ring.
Now continue doing exactly this but seamlessly jump into the next row as below.
You can see I’ve now run the thread through the very first loop I made into the base string. We are now onto our third row. Once you’ve completed your third row, turn the shell upside down and pull more firmly on the string to create a tight weave over the shell. This is the fun bit, but it doesn’t last long!
Just continue until you either run out of string or run out of coconut. You’ll end up with a lovely pattern on the bottom.
These are the two of mine. You can see that the bottom one is very much left-of-centre, but that’s ok. I like that and the top is still in line so it’s all good! Tie it off securely (I used a few knots, you could also secure a bead to the bottom, or hang it loose, whatever floats your boat) and cut off the dags.
The 50cm length you left at the start is one of your supporting ties, but you’ll need at least two more so that your planter is not lopsided. Using two other fairly equal points on the base string tie a 110cm piece of string leaving 50cms out. Wind the longer piece over and under the base string about four or five times until you get to your next support point and tie it to that point. You should have three strings by which to hang the planter at fairly equal distances around the top of the planter. Like so.
Now you can carefully pour some potting mix into your planter until nearly full.
Place your succulent cuttings, bulbs, plants or what-have-you into the soil and top up again rather more gently.
For my dry planter (the one with the drainage hole) I planted dry-loving succulents and Muscari bulbs which are just so prolific. See that cutting on the right-hand side in the picture above, it’s from the very first coconut planter I created, the plant of which is thriving in my garden now! If successful this is what it should look like in several months.
The plant now is several times this volume I’m happy to say!
Here is a rather frightening mint cutting.
I really had to chop this back to fit it into my damp planter, but the great thing about mint is that you can hardly ever kill it! It does like water so I’m hoping it will be successful in this planter. Plants are often trial and error, but using tough varieties like succulents and mint, you’ll hardly ever kill it!
Here are my two planters and I’m really kind of excited to see how they’ll go!