Concrete planters are cheap, durable and available at almost any home improvement store. Concrete stain comes in a variety of colors and styles and is so simple to apply that even a beginner can turn a plain concrete planter into an exotic work of art that will last for years.
Clean the surface of the concrete planter thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush, water and dishwashing liquid. Let dry completely.
Protect your working surface with a tarp or layers of newspaper. This may get messy.
Apply stain to the concrete planter using your preferred method: dabbed on with a rag or sponge for a mottled look, brushed or rolled on for an even look, or sprayed on for a splattered look. Allow to dry according to product directions.
Highlight decorative relief areas by using a small artist brush to apply stain in the crevices of the design. Allow to dry. Stain the entire outside plus several inches inside the rim (at least to the soil line). Repeat as necessary until the desired effect is achieved. Each coat will darken and intensify the color.
Apply a concrete sealer if desired. This step is optional, but it will help keep colors from fading and produce a sheen.