A living gift for your favourite teachers

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

The end of the school year often means madly grabbing that box of chocolates or bunch of flowers for your children’s teacher while racing about doing a million other jobs. Why not try something a little different this year and help your kids to decorate a small terracotta pot and plant it out with herbs or flowers. These make a very personal and practical gift for their teachers, and the kids will have a blast designing, painting and planting them. Hamlet the cat approves of this project. Read on to find out how to do it.

The pots in these pics have been painted with water based acrylic paint, which is more kid-friendly than oil based paint and is far easier to clean up. If you do use a water based paint to decorate the pots keep in mind you will need to add a few coats of clear varnish over the top. This will protect the paint when the pots are watered. You can buy water-based varnish at most hardware shops. It works very well and is also far easier to clean up than a solvent based varnish.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Once your kids have designed and painted the pots leave them to dry overnight before applying a couple of coats of the varnish. Once they are ready for planting, fill them with Potting Mix (Tub and Terracotta Potting Mix is best) and plant useful herbs like basil, oregano, sage or parsley. We decided to use basil in ours because it is very easy to grow, it fills out quickly and everyone loves it! Alternatively you could use some colourful annuals to make a beautiful, vibrant flower pot. To fill out a small sized terracotta pot like these you will need to plant about a half punnet of seedlings. Half of a 30 litre bag of Potting Mix was more than enough to fill all four pots. Ideally you want to plant the pot out with a few weeks still to go in the school year. This will give your plants a chance to fill out and look their best. Once they are planted don’t forget to give them a daily water and plenty of sun. You can also give them an extra kick along with a weekly drink of liquid fertiliser. If you are short of time you can speed up the process by planting a more advanced herb pot instead of using seedlings. This will save you some growing time, but will make the project little more expensive.

Rough costs per pot

Small Terracotta Pots – $3 to $5 each (depending on size)
Seedlings – $2 to $3 (half a punnet per pot)
Advanced herb / flower pots are around $10 if you are short on growing time
Varnish – less than $10 for a 250ml tin (you will use hardly any of this)

If any of you do decide to try this we would love to see the pics!