How to Make Teacup Garden Ornaments

When grandma's teacups and saucers get chipped, you don't have to hide them in the back of the cupboard, never to be seen again. Instead, turn them into vessels for your garden. Options include making bird feeders, plant hangers or planters for your windowsill. Some projects require epoxy -- the adhesive that works best for ceramics -- and some use a ceramic drill bit to make holes in the delicate china.

Succulent in Teacup
credit: TBarrie/iStock/Getty Images
Buy teacups from a thrift store if your own are too precious to use.

Cup and Saucer Bird Feeder

Perhaps the most well-known way to repurpose teacups and saucers is to create a bird feeder on a stand. First rough up the bottom rim of the teacup and the round rim at the center of your saucer with fine sandpaper, and then dab epoxy on the two rims with a cotton swab. Set them together and allow the epoxy to cure. Then dab more epoxy on the capped end of a 3/4- or 1-inch copper cap, which should be able to fit snugly on the end of a 3-foot length of copper pipe. Set the cap against the bottom center of your saucer and allow it to dry. Slide the copper pipe into the open end of the cap, stick the pipe in the ground, and fill the teacup with bird food. Follow the epoxy product's recommendation for mixing and drying times. Some products can dry in as little as five minutes and some can take several hours to completely dry.

Drilling Holes in Ceramics

Before you move onto teacup projects that require drilling holes, it's important to know how to drill holes in ceramic safely and effectively. First and foremost, always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying bits of glass or ceramic. Your drill should be equipped with a small, approximately 1/8-inch glass or tile drill bit. Lay the piece you're drilling on an old towel folded several times. Place a piece of masking tape over the area you want to drill to keep the drill bit from moving around while you drill. Start with the drill bit at a 45-degree angle to the teacup, and then move to 90 degrees once the bit has penetrated the top, glassy layer of the cup.

Teacup Planters

Old teacups -- as long as they're not badly cracked -- can serve as delicate tea cup planters. With the hole drilled, transplant a small succulent, such as jade (Crassula argentea), into the cup, adding potting mix as needed. Because jade only grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, you'll need to bring it indoors to a sunny window when the weather turns cold. Wherever you set it, set the saucer under the teacup to keep water from dripping on your furniture.

Tea Cup Hanging Basket

Your teacup and saucer combination can also serve as an attractive hanging feature. As with a teacup planter, drill an 1/8-inch hole into the bottom of the teacup for drainage. Use a small macrame or fabric plant hanger, or choose a wire or iron one with a more solid, horizontal bottom. Fill the cup with potting mix and add the small plants or herbs of your choice. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), for example, grow in USDA zones 3 to 10 and, while they'll grow quickly, will provide you a garnish for foods as well as producing purple flowers in summer. Set the saucer into the bottom of the hanger and place the cup on top. You can also use the hanging teacup as a bird feeder.

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.