How to grow flowers from a tree stump

Updated November 21, 2016

A tree stump can take many years to decay and return to the earth. You can speed the process by covering the stump with wet soil or grinding it out with heavy equipment. Even so, the remaining roots in the ground may continue to sprout long after what's above ground is gone. If you can't afford to remove a stump, use it. Tree stumps don't have to be an eyesore in your landscape; turn them into a flower container and a focal point, instead.

Put on safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying wood chips.

Set the blade of a chisel at a slight inward angle, 5 cm (2 inches) from the stump's perimeter. Hit the other end with a hammer. Depending on how old the stump is, the blade will sink in easily, or you may have to hit it harder.

Push on the chisel handle, away from the centre of the stump to lift out a piece of the wood. Continue hammering and chiselling until the centre of the stump is hollowed out in a container shape.

Fill the hole in the stump's centre with moist potting soil that contains slow-release fertiliser. This will boost the flowers' growth with nutrients they can't get from the ground or the decaying stump.

Plant a selection of annual flowers according to how much light falls on the stump. For full sun, geraniums, petunias, snapdragons and marigolds will do well. Plant nasturtium, impatiens, lobelia, alyssum and coleus in partial shade. Perennials like hosta, ivy and vinca will grow in heavier shade. Water thoroughly after planting to reduce transplant shock.

Weed and cultivate the soil of your stump container every few weeks during the growing season. Pinch off spent flowers as they fade to increase and lengthen bloom periods. Replace the old soil with new the following year for best results.


Don't add extra fertiliser to pre-fertilised potting soil. Too much nitrogen will produce a big burst of leaf growth but fewer flowers.


Don't plant in the stump of a diseased tree or one that was killed with herbicides.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Safety glasses
  • Potting soil
  • Spade
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