It turns out that St. Pierre didn’t make hers; she bought the inner workings at a garden show. What she got was a long bar with a large fork at the end to be placed in the ground. The fork prongs give the rod more stability, she said.
“I’m sure someone could make his/her own rod, but that small welded slanted piece is the key component,” she wrote. “I’m happy so many people were interested in my pots. I think it has a Mexican flair to it.”
Other readers said that you can indeed make this yourself. Following their instructions, I gave it a try, and here are my directions.
The basic idea is to stick a pole in the ground and thread the pots onto the pole through the drainage holes, as you can see in the photo at right.
You could use rebar or copper tubing. I used a wooden dowel, and I think it should last for at least one season.
You can use any size pots you want, but remember that if you use small pots, they will dry out more quickly than large pots, so you’ll have to water them more often.
You need a dowel that will fit through the drainage hole in the pots. I used a 1/2 inch diameter dowel. The pots were ones I already had on hand, ranging in size from 6 inches to about 4 inches. The holes in the smaller pots just fit on the dowel.
Buy a dowel that will be about the same height as your stacked pots, plus at least 1 or 2 feet longer. I used a 36-inch dowel.
Hammer the dowel into the ground. Thread the first pot on the dowel. Fill the pot with soil and plant it. It’s a bit awkward planting the pot while it’s on the dowel, but if you plant the pot first and then try to thread it on the dowel, everything in the pot will get disrupted.
I wasn’t pleased with my first effort, which you can see at right. The pots were nesting in each other, taking up the room I’d rather use for plants. Plus, the pots weren’t achieving those interesting angles.
Here are two tips on rectifying those problems.
First, I believe that Cherie St. Pierre was right–Getting that initial slant is key. On my second try, which you can see below, I wedged a rock under the bottom pot to get the whole arrangement off to a good start.
Second, I think using pots that are all the same size will help you get those great angles. Look at the two pots just above the bottom pot. They’re the same size and they angle very nicely.
You don’t need to glue the pots.
Another tip: Set up your leaning tower of pots on a firm spot. I assembled mine on a soft spot that had been recently dug up. A few days later, it rained and the bottom pot began to sink. Just tamping down the earth a bit should solve that problem.
I used plants that were growing in the wrong spots in my garden and needed transplanting: chives, parsley, violets, forget-me-nots and sedum.
St. Pierre said she found that Portulaca is a great plant for this design because the top pot dries out quickly and Portulaca does not need so much watering.
If you’re going to have your tower in the sun over the summer, I second St. Pierre’s suggestion for selecting plants that thrive in hot, dry conditions. That way you won’t have to water as often. You could also plant up a leaning tower using coleus to add color to a shady spot.