While I love to arrange plants in containers, the vessels can be so expensive! A ceramic pot can sometimes cost more than the plants that it holds. Plants should really be front and center. I recently came across tutorials on making hypertufa planters: a simple and inexpensive mix of equal parts portland cement, peat moss, perlite and water pressed into a mold of any form of your choice. Most of the tutorials say start with a basic plastic bowl as a mold. From those tutorials, I made these:
Recently, through Gondwana Flora, our friends at Gardens By Anna cued us into a way to make these concrete pots look more rustic than modern: sprinkling Iron Sulfate onto cured concrete pots and lightly misting them with water. Here's a schoolyard ball sporting the rustic look (stay tuned for finished arrangement):
If you venture into any of these projects, please USE THE PROPER SAFETY GEAR: chemical resistant gloves, dust mask and safety glasses. Iron Sulfate also stains concrete easily and permanently, so make certain it's the look you want and protect work surfaces accordingly.
I'm currently working on a larger schoolyard ball and I hope you come back to see the tutorial and results: