Bling for Pots: Crushed Glass

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

Leave it to LA. Designers in that city are using crushed glass to snazz potted plants. The glass, tumbled so the edges are smooth (it’s often from recycled bottles) lends a splash of glamor.Landscape designer Laura Morton married a pink-edged phormium with an Italian terracotta pot, using a topdressing of peachy-pink glass that also draws attention to a yellow sedum’s pink tips. (Photo from Succulent Container Gardens.)

This pot’s pretty and so is the agave, but what sends me over the moon are all those diamonds. (By Laura Morton.)

At Rolling Greens—one of LA’s largest source of pots and garden accessories—red, yellow and orange glass makes the mottled edges of a flapjack kalanchoe pop. Note, too, how the container’s scalloped rim also repeats the shape of the plant’s leaves. [Water succulents in a nondraining container like this one just enough to keep roots moist, but not so wet they’ll rot. Half a cup once a week should do it.]

Rolling Greens offers an impressive palette of crushed, tumbled glass. I’ve also seen it for sale in LA at Pot-ted garden boutique and at California Cactus Center specialty nursery. (More about each below.) If your area lacks sources, try pet shops that sell aquarium supplies.

Pot-ted offers whimsical compositions by staff designer Anna Goeser.

A desert diorama by Anna has a blue-glass pool.

Another has sparkles of yellow that suggest heat waves, and that echo the yellow of the pot and toy car. (From Succulent Container Gardens)

Imagine this with, say, the red-edged kalanchoe, above.

Got a boring plant in a ho-hum pot? Topdress it with a rainbow of multicolored tumbled glass.

At California Cactus Center nursery, this haworthia seems to say, “You may think I’m green, but actually, I’m not. The glass is green.” It also calls attention to the plant’s translucent tips.

A dramatic Sansevieria cylindrica at CA Cactus appears to plunge into a cobalt pool. Or maybe it’s bursting out of it.

Either way, it’s all about the glass.

My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog postsnewsletterspublic speaking and workshopsphotosvideosmerchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardensand Succulents Simplified.  www.debraleebaldwin.com 

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications. www.debraleebaldwin.com.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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professorroush July 2, 2011, 6:21 am

Interesting idea, but I’d prefer to use tumbled glass….you spill one of the pots above (or your cat scratches in one) and it would take forever to sweep up!

Yes, of course, tumbled glass. — Debra

Linda Steider July 2, 2011, 9:32 am

I LOVE glass in the garden! I’ve used tumbled glass for paths and have glass art that my friends have made placed throughout my garden. I’m going to try the diorama and rainbow ideas, thanks!!

I’ve tried tumbled glass in paths too, Linda, and it does disappear after time. What I have found that is wonderful—and lasts forever—is adding flat florist’s marbles to my gravel walkway. — Debra

Nicole July 2, 2011, 9:49 am

Very creative and cool

Thanks, Nicole! — Debra

mary July 2, 2011, 12:10 pm

Loved seeing the glass mulch highlighted. It is a great addition to container gardening. The picture of our little blue jeep with the cactus made me wonder where that little planting is and how it’s doing!

Hi, Mary — I love that composition! Such whimsy. — Debra

AngryRedhead July 2, 2011, 3:10 pm

I do this! You can get free glass cullet at the Austin reclamation center (which only makes sense if you live in or very near to Austin :-P), but it’s all sorts of glass colors. I’ve used it for a dry river bed and structural foundations. It also looks nice in pots because it has the coloring of moss. I really like the pink champagne colored glass in the first picture. I imagine that would look great with a lot of plants!

Thanks for the tip about where to get glass in Austin! I didn’t know it was called “cullet.” — Debra

Lona July 2, 2011, 5:50 pm

I like some of that very much. Especially the Cobalt container and blue glass. I have a stupid question though. Does the glass add more heat to the plants?

Hi, Lona — That’s not a stupid question at all! Sunlight can be intensified when shining through glass. But small pieces should do it. It’s things like clear lens glass and paperweights you’d need to be concerned about. — Debra

Cathy July 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

What a creative idea. It adds a whole new dimension of color and texture to create a dramatic effect in the part of the plant/pot combination that traditionally gets overlooked (the dirt)!

I don’t have to worry about a cat knocking it over, just my own clumsiness, but I just bought a vintage bird cage to use as a planter and this article gives me a whole range of ideas to use when I put this together.

Great article… and my favorite arrangements are the first one with the peachy pink glass and the small arrangement in the scallop-edged footed shallow bowl (by Rolling Greens). That is stunning!

Topdressing is essential to giving any potted arrangement a polished look. But it’s also possible to use pebbles or even gravel to cover bare soil. — Debra

Randy July 2, 2011, 7:11 pm

Wish we’d known about going to a big garden center to get crushed glass when we built our concrete counter tops. We used sea glass and ran out and could not get anymore. These are neat ideas.

So, you imbedded glass in the concrete, then polished it? Sounds gorgeous! — Debra

Greggo July 2, 2011, 9:44 pm

too ornamental for my tastes.

Hey, it’s not as though I showed mirrors and sequins! — Debra

Dixie July 3, 2011, 8:30 am

Very pretty, but it you’d have to be careful not to mess it up. Those pots and their occupants look great. I absolutely LOVE the white haworthia – it has a ghostly quality to it. I got 5 new cacti, an aloe and a gasteria today, so this is just the inspiration I need to pot them up nicely!

Yes, glass mulch seems to work best with plants that don’t need a lot of tending. Not a good idea for plants that cover their pots and need to be pruned and repotted frequently. — Debra

Roberta July 3, 2011, 9:36 am

Oh! boy!! More ways to play in the garden with our pots!! The peachy- pink glass & the diamond glass
just send me too!!
Thanks so much for sharing :)

A woman after my own heart! ;+) — Debra

glimpsesofglory/karen July 5, 2011, 7:15 pm

I think glass mulch is a very cool idea especially for city/roof top gardens in Manhattan.
I still like to use seashells, either bought or gathered and thoroughly washed, as mulch for pots I guess because I live on Long Island.
You can see this on one of my posts called “A few of my favorite things” – May or June. glimpsesofglory-karen.blogspot.com/

I use seashells, too! I love them in undersea-themed potted combos, and as a topdressing for crested succulents. — Debra

Town Mouse July 5, 2011, 11:06 pm

Wow, what a lot of great ideas! In the SF Bay Area, Red Shovel sells glass and tumbled dishes & tiles by the pound. I love their tumbled traffic lights… Maybe I have to go back.

Tumbled traffic lights? Oooh. — Debra

ESP July 6, 2011, 12:01 am

Great in containers but watch out as a top-dressing mulch. I have unfortunately seen it utilized too many times with grass growing through it, offering an unfortunate “down and out” aesthetic to any garden setting.

Yes, probably not a good idea to use it as garden mulch. Too much maintenance to keep it looking good.– Debra

Ruhi July 8, 2011, 2:36 am

Beautiful pictures and a great idea! Thank you!
Quick question – does crushed glass come in different sizes?( e.g. pebbles/gravel comes in different sizes) I was interested in crushed glass for smaller pots – the ones that I see in stores are big and chunky. Or maybe some other medium that would look good in smaller pots like say a 6 inch pot?

Hi, Ruhi — Yes, lots of different sizes. I’ve seen chunks of tumbled glass as large as my thumb, and as small as grains of coarse salt. I think you’re right—the smaller the pot, the finer the topdressing. You could also go with beads or colored sand! — Debra

Laura July 11, 2011, 9:18 am

Thanks for the mention Deborah. The specialty ‘diamond’ glass has a reflective finish that shimmers and holds up real well and brings light into darker areas like a variegated foliage would. Diamondfireglass.com

Louie July 12, 2011, 6:06 am

I love this!! Definitely getting me excited about starting gardening.