Carved Balsa Wood Planter

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By Home Decor Contributor Alyssa

Create a cool painted planter with balsa wood for your fake plants.

I’ve sort of given up on owning plants. I can’t keep them alive, I do not understand how to do that. Doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, if it’s in my possession, it will die a slow, painful death. It’s gotten to the point where all we have are a couple aloe plants and my boyfriend insists he take care of them because he loves them. Fine by me.

Carved Balsa Planter

That being said, I’m not ready to lose the atmosphere that having plants inside the home brings. I love having green in my apartment, but maybe not…you know, real green. Maybe I need fake green.

I’ve never been a huge fan of fake plants, but I’m a little desperate. I figure if I put them in a planter that’s so cute it distracts from the fake-ness of the plants, it all might work out for the best. No dead plants, less lives lost, less money spent on new plants, super easy and fun craft. All wins in my book.

What you’ll need:

To start, measure the length and width of your piece(s) of balsa wood. Mine was 3” x 36”. I measured and marked three inch segments down the length of the wood until I had eight equally-sized squares.




Balsa wood is extremely soft, so a craft knife should be more than sufficient when trying to cut through the wood. Also keep this in mind when handling the wood. It will dent and break easily; handle with care!

If you have a T-ruler, line it up so the top of the T is against the top of the piece of wood, and the ruler lines up with the marks you’ve made. Using your craft knife, carefully score the wood multiple times until you have a deep cut on one side of the wood, using the ruler as a guide to keep the cut straight. Flip the wood over and score on the other side as well, until you’ve completely cut through your piece of wood and have your first square. Repeat until all 8 squares have been cut


Next, choose your paint colors. I went with lavender and black, but of course, you can use whatever colors you want, or make both planters the same color. Paint the entire square, edges and sides included.


Since the entire piece of wood is covered in wet paint, make a “rack” for drying out of a long piece of tin foil. I just rolled mine up like a snake and rested one end of the square on the foil and the other end on a piece of paper. It worked perfectly fine.


After each square has dried completely, grab a carving tool. I used a linoleum carver, but as stated above, you can use any type of carving tool, be it wood or just a small knife. Carefully carve small knicks in the wood to create a textured “polka-dot” look.




If you wanted, you could paint your squares white and carve out little spots, then paint the spots black. Whatever you want to do, it’s up to you


Make sure to clean all small slivers of wood off the squares after you’re done cutting.

Once you are done carving, take your hot glue gun and apply glue to one edge of a piece of wood.


Press the edge of another piece firmly onto the glued edge. Hold for a few seconds. Keep gluing the pieces together until you’ve created a cube.



In my opinion, you do not need a bottom piece, since (for this craft, at least) you’ll be using a fake plant and won’t need to worry about water leakage. However, if you do want to use a real plant, go ahead and paint an extra square for each planter and glue it to the bottom of your cube.

Plop your plant inside, display and enjoy!



(Or, drop it in your planter and feel your soul depart your body as you watch dirt and rocks spill all over your rental carpet…real plants my photograph better, but my hate for them is real). Craft Bloopers Drawing… here I come.

Carved Balsa Wood Planter


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About Alyssa

Hello! My name is Alyssa. I am a, as they say, “real girl” crafter. I make stuff for my home that virtually anyone can make, no matter their crafting experience or expertise. I love practical, beautiful home décor that often does double-duty, and include the crafting mistakes I make so you can avoid making them in the future. We all mess up, so embrace it! I find inspiration in things with hefty price tags, usually followed by the famous last words, “I could make that.” I love the outdoors, live music, my sisters, and admiring strangers’ dogs from afar. Although I currently reside in Seattle, I’m a small-town girl at heart who can often be found daydreaming in front of my office computer or on the couch with my overbearingly affectionate cat, Kristoff, who, if he’s lucky, will receive a very weird-looking, hand-crafted kitten sweater sometime in the future.

3 thoughts on “Carved Balsa Wood Planter

  1. Cath M. T.

    Too funny. I’ve killed my share of plants over the years. Cacti and succulents are good bets. But fake works for me too. Anyway, love these planters. The carving and painting technique is great fun and unique. Hard to be unique on the innerwebs these days but I haven’t seen anything like this so it’s doubly fun.

  2. Martha

    Purple thumbs here too, but those green and white hanging plants you find in most family restaurants (don’t have a clue what they’re called, but they’re not spider plants) are super easy and don’t require anything more than the occasional watering. They even survive a general lack of watering maintenance, if you catch up while there’s still some green leaves… yes, experience.

    As for Balsa, if you just draw with almost any moderately pointed object, making indentations on the wood, you should even be able to decorate it without a knife (which I also should not be trusted with, due to damage caused to my own body).

    Nice project, one I just have to try!

  3. Alyssa

    Thank you for the tips and kind words! I’ll have to do some research on this green and white hanging plant…

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