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Visit nearly any garden shop these days and you may feel like you’re being watched. Head planters have a way of making you feel that way.

And head planters – head-shaped planters made from clay, terra cotta or cement with space in the skull for a plant – are very hot. They’re part home decor, part plant, and all fun. And even in the dog days of winter, they’re a great way to add some green to your space.

“They’re fun and whimsical,” said Kelly Green, owner of Southern Green, a plant shop and terrarium bar inside Tootie and Tallulah’s in downtown Berkley.

Green sells a variety of head-shaped planters, both big and small, that range in price from $16 for a small one with space for a Tillandsia air plant to a large one that sells for $99.

One of Green’s main suppliers is a company that specializes in handmade products from South and Central America.

But when she got into the plant business about seven years ago, Green, a former school administrator, said head planters were hard to find. So hard, in fact, that she asked a local artist, ceramicist Cheryl English, to make some.

“I approached her and said ‘I’m trying to do something unique,’” said Green.

Today, Green still carries the square-shaped planters with faces that English create, along with a wide variety of planters in between.

“It makes people happy,” she said.

Hard to find

 Tamela Ekstrom Derian, the broker and owner of Detroit HAVEN Real Estate and Design, has loved head planters for years, long before they were popular. When she searched online to find one about a decade ago, she struggled.

"I found one lady that hand-made them out of cement," remembers Ekstrom Derian. "You could choose the sand or gray color. She shipped them in crates. I thought they were so unique that I toyed with the idea of making and selling them myself."

Years later, Ekstrom and her husband, Evan, have amassed an entire collection of head planters. They have at least seven, including two large concrete ones. One is from a Texas-based company, Global Views; another is from; several are from Telly's Greenhouse in Troy; and another is from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"We used them as the table centerpieces at our wedding with different plants, candles, moss and wine bottles filled with flowers," said Ekstrom Derian. "I think my husband and I both love them because we are both portrait artists."

Ekstrom says there's no question head planters are more popular than they used to be. And she already has her eye on a few more at Blumz by JR Designs in Ferndale.

"I have an addiction," jokes Ekstrom.

Right plant, location

What's also fun about head planters is they don't have to stay indoors, says Green. They can be moved outdoors once warmer weather arrives, she says.

But whether inside or out, Green says it's important to ask yourself a few questions to determine the right location and the right plant.

When it comes to picking the right plant for a head planter, Green suggests picking one "that completes the face," she says. You want hardy, architectural plants, she says.

"It's like the hair. What do you want the hair to look like? And I always want it to be whimsical and fun and hardy. I want it to be a home accessory that will last a long time."

It's about making it all one piece, she says. "It's not a head with a plant in it."

Some good options, Green recommends, are a Sansaveria, also known as a snake plant, with spiky hardy leaves that will requires minimal watering. Another good option is a Xerographica, a type of air plant with curly leaves.  

And the Calathea is another fun option, she says. Green has one in a large blue ceramic head planter that's been a popular item in her store.  At night, it's a prayer plant so its leave cluster all together, straight up.

One friend who has it "said 'Oh no, our guard is going for the night,'" Green said. "'We're going lose our night watchman.'" 

Not every plant will look right in certain planters, so "there's a conscious step of picking a plant to match a container," Green says.

"The more organic it looks, the more interesting it will be in a pot," she says.

And Green believes there's no such thing as a person with a black thumb. 

"You have to match the plant you have with your own personal needs and preference," she said. "Do you ignore plants? Then we need to get you something that you can let dry out. Do you have a house with low light? There are lots of plants (that thrive) with low light, but not a succulent."

So if you're eager for spring and the weather isn't cooperating, try a head planter. Before winter ends, it could help get your own head in the right place.

Where to Shop

Blumz by JRDesigns, locations in Ferndale, Detroit and Holly;

Southern Green, inside Tootie and Tallulah's: 2600 W. 12 Mile Road, Berkley; (248) 505-0140

Telly's Greenhouse: 3301 John R. Road, Troy (Shelby location is still closed for the season); (248) 689-8735 



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