Help me give this hoof pride of place
January 28, 2014 3:15 AM   Subscribe

Can I turn this cow hoof yerba mate mug into a succulent/cactus planter? Pics inside!

Some years ago I was given this cow hoof yerba mate mug by an Argentinian friend. I don't really like yerba mate, so I scraped out all out the dried, compacted mate inside and used it as a pencil holder in my workroom. However, I'd like it to be more visible in my house, so I thought I could perhaps plant a cactus or a succulent in it and set in out in the living room.

I think it is made from the traditional calabash gourd set inside (somehow??) the tanned cowhide. Here is a closer photo of the outside, and here is the inside of the mug. The opening at its narrowest is 1.5 inches in diameter, far too small for even the smallest flowerpot. It is about 4 inches deep.

My question is: can I plant a cactus or succulent in my hoof without rotting it inside? There's no drainage, of course, but a cactus hardly needs water. Help me, metafilter, with my ridiculous taxidermied cow hoof beverage container cactus garden problem!
posted by lollymccatburglar to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
My question is: can I plant a cactus or succulent in my hoof without rotting it inside?

No. Cacti require both more water than you seem to assume (weekly soaking) and drainage. But you could place a small dish inside the lip and use it for a plant stand perhaps.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:02 AM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's doable. I currently have a small cactus living in an old teacup that doesn't drain. Contrary to DarlingBri's experience, I haven't watered this thing since last February and it's still thriving (I do live in a relatively humid climate, which probably helps). I'd ask the folks at your local garden/hardware shop if they can recommend an especially low-maintenance cactus. I don't recommend you use a succulent, though, as they do need more water in my experience.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:50 AM on January 28, 2014

Alternatively, put a good-quality artificial plant in it: that way there'd be no risk of damaging the hoof with the soil & water a real plant would need.
posted by easily confused at 5:10 AM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about a Tillandsia? They are somewhat commonly known as 'air plants', since they require no soil (they get nutrients from their leaves).
Bonus: they are native to South America!

Here is a link:
posted by PlantGoddess at 5:22 AM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since you don't intend to use it as a drinking vessel, why not drill a hole through the bottom for drainage yourself? You would need to line the inside with something waterproof (maybe even just aluminum foil), but I don't see why that would be a problem. Plus it would be awesome to get a tall and hairy looking one growing in there that would go towards simulating a cow leg ending in a hoof.
posted by Think_Long at 5:57 AM on January 28, 2014

You can do this, if you are very careful about watering and choose a true desert cactus and not a houseleek or something. Many cacti grow in areas of shallow soil over hardpan which has a similar effect on hydrology as a pot. Personally I would drill a hole, but if you water lightly and then let it dry out for a good long time before watering again you can make it work, at least for awhile*. You could also make a false bottom for drainage by elevating a smaller (draining) pot inside the mate cup.

*since it's hard to know exaclty what's going on in the bottom, there may come a day when you accidentally overwater and rot the plant. You might try weighing the whole thing when you've filled with dry soil, so you know not to water again when the weight is much higher.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:54 AM on January 28, 2014

Cacti probably take more water than you are imagining, yeah. If you really didn't want to rot the inside, I would just get a large-ish air plant (something like this maybe) which require soaking occasionally but don't really drain.

Also goddamn, that is a freakin' sweet yerba mate mug.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:12 AM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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