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How to Grow Plants in a Wine Barrel Successfully

Wine barrels are the ultimate planter. Made of wood, they add a rustic and homey look to your container garden and can hold a lot of plants. Due to their large size and the amount of soil they hold, you can grow plants in these containers you never thought possible! Grow plants in a barrel successfully with these handy tips.

Wine barrel with plants growing in it

In this post, we will cover:

Where Can I Get a Wine Barrel for Plants?

Most garden centres will carry wine barrels that are already cut in half, so you can start your search there.

You can also get them by the half barrel if you’re lucky and live near a winery.

What to plant inside a wine barrel in the garden

Preparing the Barrel

The barrels don’t need to be prepared in any way to be safe for plants. In fact, they can be either wine or whiskey barrels! These are great because they’re already food safe and great for using out in the garden.

That being said, there are a few steps you’ll want to take to turn it from your basic wine barrel to a proper planter.

Add Drainage Holes

It’s important to drill drainage holes in your barrel. I drill at least three drainage holes into my barrels. Then, I prop it on some bricks so it can freely drain.

It’s very heavy, so you’ll need to do this ahead of time before you fill your planter!

Layer with Landscape Fabric

To help filter the soil, you can put landscape fabric inside. This will prevent the soil from leaking out of the drainage holes. This fabric must be thin to let the water go through easily. Alternatively, you can use newspaper.

Filling the Barrel

Barrels take a LOT of soil. This makes them great for plants with deep roots. However, if you don’t plan on growing plants with deep roots, you can save money on potting soil by filling it with other materials before soil. Here are some ideas!

The top 12” of the barrel should be container potting mix. You can plant right into that!

Once the barrel is full, it’s nearly impossible to move due to its weight. So make sure you love the placement of it when filling it.

Wooden barrel filled with potting soil

What to Plant in a Wine Barrel

Due to the amount of soil, you can easily grow deeply rooted plants. This makes it a suitable container for most small to medium-sized perennials, shrubs, and annuals.

Wine barrels also work great for keeping ground-crawling pests out of the way! If you have certain plants that struggle with pests, elevate them in the barrel. For instance, I grow lettuce in my barrel to keep the slugs from munching it all.

Containers also work well for keeping invasive plants under control, like mint or lemon balm.

Lettuce growing in a barrel


Here are some vegetables that typically need bigger containers to grow:

Mini Greenhouse ripening peppers
Photo: Tara Nolan


Likewise, some flowers you may not think are great for container planting work amazingly when planting in a barrel.

Flowers blooming in a wine barrel

Care Tips

While the barrel’s elevation helps to prevent ground crawling pests, some can still make their way up. Slugs, in particular, are a problem for eating my wine barrel lettuce. To prevent them from crawling up, you can add a strip of copper wire around the edge to stop them.

Other Things to Do With a Wine Barrel in the Garden

Outside of hosting flowers, plants and vegetables, there are a few other things you can do with your barrel.

Make a Mini Greenhouse

You can also turn your wine barrel into a mini greenhouse. They’re the perfect size for a clear umbrella to help keep the heat in when you’re seed-starting or looking to extend the season.

Diy greenhouse - clear umbrella covering wine barrel in garden

Pond Insert

You can also get an insert for your wine barrel that turns it into a pond. I did this in my backyard to create a wildlife pond. The project is featured in The Regenerative Garden.

wildlife pond from the regenerative garden

Frequently Asked Questions About Planting in a Barrel

Can you plant lavender in a wine barrel?

Certainly! Lavender has a shallow root system, so you don’t even need to worry about filling the barrel completely with soil. Lavender does well in containers and can last in one for many years.

Here’s what you need to know about how to grow lavender.

Can you plant hydrangeas in a barrel?

Hydrangeas are also shallow-rooted plants and can grow well in containers.

Do planter barrels rot?

Wine barrel planters typically last about ten years. After that, they start to fall apart and then need replacing. You can place your barrel outside in the winter, rain, while it’s freezing, etc. They’re all-weather!

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