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Plantgasm - I love plants too much. By Derek Powazek.

My New Two-Tier Low-Water Triangle Planter

There’s an awkward corner at the front of my building. It’s a tight 90º turn where a planter would work so long as it kept out of the way. The perfect shape would be a triangle, but since I couldn’t find one (how hard it is to make triangular planter?), I decided to build one myself.

The final project came out quite well. It’s 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and has 2 tiers for planting in, and I only bled once. I even added a floor with holes for drainage. All it took was some wood (Poplar – more on that in a moment), a circular saw that could handle 45º cuts, a drill, a few screws, and as much of my high school geometry class as I could remember.


I’m quite proud of the way it came out. Yesterday I did the planting.


I think it looks pretty good!

What I didn’t know when I bought the wood is that Poplar is not very rot resistant. All wood planters rot eventually, it’s just a matter of when. (Mental note: Cedar and Redwood last the longest. Next time.) To help extend the life of the planter, I decided to use a cactus mix and plant only low-water plants, so that I could keep the container quite dry (which should keep it from rotting quickly).


For the bottom row, I selected succulents that should stay small: Echeveria, Kalanchoe, and Sedum. It’s planted pretty tight but I just wanted to put everything in and see how they do.


On top, I kept with the low-water requirement, but went in a different direction. Around the sides I planted Sempervivum, which will, in time, form a dense mat and spill over the edges. I needed something small because in the center I planted a giant.

The Giant Sea Squill, aka Drimia maritima, is the largest flowering bulb in the world! This bulb was about a foot across. This season, it should form a huge half-circle of spear-shaped, wavy leaves. And when it’s ready, it’ll shoot a spray of flowers up 3-5 feet.

The Sea Squill grows in sandy crevices in beachy areas, so it’s good in costal climates with arid sand. When I bought it, the salesman said, “plant it, water it, and then never water it again.’ Sounds like the perfect crown jewel for my new two-tier low-water triangle planter extravaganza.

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9 Responses

I love this idea! Even using poplar, this will likely last for quite a while, especially since you’re growing succulents in them. I make my raised bed boxes out of pine, which is also not rot-resistant (but it’s much cheaper than cedar!). My first raised bed is 9 years old, and is just now in need of some reconstruction. Yours will likely last even longer than that.

Herbs would also work well in one of these. Great idea!

Posted by Colleen Vanderlinden on 29 December 2012 @ 7am

Well done! That turned out much better than just pretty good. I hope you post when that big bulb flowers, that should be quite a sight.

Posted by Alison on 29 December 2012 @ 8am

Fabulous, I want one! Although sadly there is no such thing as “low water” in Portland, Oregon.

Posted by Loree / danger garden on 29 December 2012 @ 9am

Nice! Love the make-it-happen ingenuity!

Those yellow Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ in the left of the lower tier should get about 10″ diameter each, just fyi. :) They’ll hide the one Echeveria underneath them, but the Sedum ‘Pork and Beans’ will totally trail out. Of course, a little strategic pruning will let that Echeveria show… You have one of my favorite Echeverias, too! ‘Lola’, on the far right. What a beaut!

Nice job! It’s gonna grow in fantastically. I’ve never seen that big critter before, and hope to see an update on it some day. Makes me want one.

Posted by boZannical Zann on 29 December 2012 @ 4pm

Yeah Poplar rots like crazy, but I think with a dry planting scheme like that you should be able to extend its life out pretty far. The nice thing though about redwood or cedar is they age to a nice gray color so it tends to fall into the background with plants. However, nice idea, I quite like it.

Posted by Barry on 29 December 2012 @ 5pm

Thanks, Zann!

It’s interesting: I have other Aeonium Sunbursts that have indeed gotten large. But the one I planted here has stayed this small for a year or two. Maybe because it was in a small container. We’ll see if it explodes now that its got more room.

Thanks for the IDs! I got most of these unlabeled.

Posted by Derek on 29 December 2012 @ 7pm

Cool design. Well done.
Water issue again…water will rot the bottom. Idea. Raise the whole with stone or brick ‘feet’ for drainage.

Posted by Erica on 30 December 2012 @ 11am

Wow that looks fabulous. Can’t wait to see that bulb grow and put out flowers.

Posted by Melanie on 2 January 2013 @ 7pm

What a terrific idea! I’ve scooped this up to show off to people looking for ways to maximize their gardening space. I’ve also posted it on one of my Facebook pages, linking directly back here to you. I hope that’s okay.

Posted by Jodi DeLong on 12 January 2013 @ 10am


Plantgasm is where Derek Powazek chronicles his botanical antics and misadventures. More.