I Painted my Pots, and You May Not Like the Result


pots with iresine and sweet potato vine, then Little Bluestem

These pots in my back garden used to contain bold-colored annuals that grew surprisingly large – particularly the red Iresine here with sweet potato vine. Then the deer found them and loved them to death, so this year they held the deer-resistant but comparatively boring Little Bluestem ‘Standing Tall.’ 

Also, they didn’t stand tall after all. They flopped until I shortened them considerably.

But since painting everything in sight in my front garden – much-needed color therapy for 2020 – I started painting in the back, too. The old grey bench is now barn red. Then the dull grey pots caught my eye.

pots painted tomato red

Choosing a color called Tomato Red, I went a little bolder with the pots, which is why they may be over the top for some readers. 

before and after painting grey pots vibrant blue

And I didn’t stop there. When I wrote that these pots in the front garden were possible targets of paint I believe more than one commenter disagreed, saying they preferred the natural weathered look.

I liked it, too, well enough, but I like them even more since painting them blue this week.

Pots painted blue, with pink chairs

I like them best of all in context, with more bold colors in sight.

before and after painting grey pots green

Lastly, these naturally weathered grey pots near my front door looked kinda cool, I’ll admit, but I’m on a tear to reduce the grey in my life. Also, I wanted more of the mint green accent color against the house.

Next summer these pots will be covered by trailing foliage (more sweet potato vine as the “spiller”) but for now, they’re statement pots, dammit. 

But as always, feel free to disagree. (Rant commenters can be bold, too.)


  1. Absolutely love your colors….they are so alive and happy.My favorite is the lavender chairs and table accented w/the blue pots nearby….just beautiful and so welcoming. I love color!!!!!!

  2. I painted a bunch of pots lavender to match the door frames (which wasn’t a universally popular choice either) and it looks great after several years; some are plastic and stay outside as long as the contents look OK, but the clay ones DO go inside the garage for the freezing weather. I used spray paint from the hardware store.

  3. I’m one of those gardeners who loves the weathered look of old containers… I love the darker blue and red… just not a fan of the lighter colors… As others have said, the only opinion that really matters is yours!

  4. I notice you used boxwood stems in one pot. Do boxwood stems hold up well all winter or do they brown out? What about holly? I have had good luck with needled evergreens in outdoor arrangements, but I’m looking for more ideas that will work in a zone 6a Michigan winter. Any suggestions will be appreciated!

  5. Glad you are happy with them, but I feel obliged, since you encouraged it, to say that I preferred the natural look. I would also be concerned that the moisture from within will cause the paint to peel. I live in provence, france, and love the weathered look of the antique urns and pots, for me their lack of color sets off the colorful plants inside. What is important, is that *you* are pleased!
    bonnie in provence

  6. I am of the opinion that if you like the color of your pots, and they are in your garden, then I am delighted for you. You are harming no one and bringing joy into your life. My COVID surprise is a latent appreciation for topiary. I have been shearing shrubs like they have never been shorn before. I worry that this burst of manic activity may amount to shrub abuse, but so far neither the shrubs nor the neighbors have complained. During our pandemic, keep calm and garden on!

  7. Sorry, everyone! GardenRant has been moved recently and I’m not receiving notifications of comments yet. Will fix!
    Anyhoo, I used a primer and then Sherwin Williams Resilience exterior latix for the color coat. “Exceptional moisture resistance” says the label. Hope so!
    The pots are all lightweight fake pottery – not sure what to call them, but they’re winter-resistant. Or seem to be, since they’ve survived several winters here so far (Zone 7). The paint store said it would be more difficult if the surface was smooth but since it wasn’t, they predicted good results with this paint.


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