Tiki Torch Planter – “Little Hawaii” outdoor patio decorating tip

tiki torch planter

Okay, I freely admit that I found the original idea for my tiki torch planters on Pinterest, and that I immediately pinned the picture to my new landscaping board. In fact, I am a recent devotee to the Pinterest way of life. Here is a link and that image from thegardeningcook.com:

This great image is all over Pinterest

Considering that my father’s family is from Hawaii, and that I lived there part of the time growing up, you can imagine my excitement about the prospect of this project–especially since my home, garden, and patio are all in Montana.

Anyway, fast-forward several weeks, and here we were almost done with a large project with a landscaper that I could see wasn’t going to turn out as I’d initially hoped. So I was looking for big splashy touches to add to the spaces we were creating.

I didn’t skimp on anything for this project, because I was making serious improvements to the yard, but I know I could have done a nice job on a shoe-string too. So I bought two large, light, high-quality planters that color-coördinate with my space and tastes. I do believe this would be a gorgeous addition to any patio or garden in an inexpensive plastic pot, an old whiskey barrel, or even a five gallon bucket. In the garden, I believe in letting the plants tell the story as much as possible. In our case, these two large tiki torch planters have made such a big visual impact–along with a yellow hibiscus, a croton, a canna and three $5 persimmon-colored mirrors cast off from my daughter’s room–that I have started calling the new patio, “Little Hawaii.”

The planter is only 2-ft high, but the plantings and tikis give them the presence of a person

My planters are 2-feet high

Also, I’d heard the idea of using empty water bottles or other filler in the bottom of very large planters, so of course I tried it, and so far the water bottles have worked great. However, if my planters were small enough to be wobbly even filled with soil, then I would have added rock or other weights in the bottom to stabilize the planters.

How I planted my tiki torch planters:

tiki torch planter at night

For each planter, I picked up the following plants, which I knew would thrive in full sun during our short northern summers. I was aiming for a tropical feel with some of our most vigorous annuals. I found pretty good prices because it was mid-season already. A few weeks later I saw a lot of large coleus and impatiens on clearance. I might have added those into the mix if the timing had worked out that way and if it were a shadier location. (See below: I used it everywhere else. I have a lot of shade…)

  • 1 large Dracaena (spike) for height and drama
  • 1 large Sweet Potato Vine for size and lushness
  • 1 large Supertunia in yellow for luminosity at night, plus they remind me of plumerias
  • 1/2 a 6-pack of Dusty Miller for contrast and variety
  • A 6 pack of Marigolds for pests and a temporary spark of color while the plants were all still relatively small (These were eventually swallowed up by the vines and petunia flowers.)
  • Some variegated vinca (I moved this)

The inspiration picture above showed electric lights, but we decided to go with the classic, inexpensive variety and citronella oil for the fuel. Two tikis per planter are sufficient to light up a large area, and they don’t create a dangerous inferno, the way five or six flaming tikis would.

Also, two tikis are easily angled at a distance from one another. I think even one tiki would be enough per planter to make a nice statement, especially if you made a set and used the planters to flank an area, for instance. (If I had little kids around, I would have found and bought either solar-powered or battery-operated tiki torches.) And please don’t use any style of tiki in a way not recommended by the manufacturer.

Additional features:

Treat yourself to wheels for big plantersNear the end of the season, I picked up a couple of outdoor roller (caster) stands on clearance somewhere, so we could move our tiki torch planters around easily for parties, etc. Even with empty water-bottles layered at the bottom, these pots are heavy. Of course, if they were top-heavy and likely to tip over, I would have changed my plan.

Finally, my baskets and planters are all integrated into our irrigation system, and so these big planters got ample, regular water via dripper. I even deadheaded those petunias several times…

As always, I am happy to answer questions, and I appreciate your comments – Beth – Zazu

“Little Hawaii” in July

IN BLOOM highlights: Impatiens and coleus brighten the day…

My sixth grade class in Honolulu, HI, spent a day planting impatiens in the narrow planting strips that lined the breezeways connecting the buildings of the school. We just broke off little pieces and tucked them in the ground. This was my first experience with propagation, and I have always loved impatiens…



Love hearing from you!