How to Make Biodegradable Garden Pots

December 17, 2018

If you’re thinking about planting lots of seeds, make biodegradable seed pots. They’re easy to make and they can be transplanted right into the ground when the time comes. Plus, they’re economical! See our video on how to make the seed pots—plus, we’ve included accompanying text instructions.

In this video, we explain the best recycled materials to use when making your pots and demonstrate how to produce containers which are perfect to start your seedlings in

How to Make Biodegradable Plant Pots

Seed trays and pots can be expensive, and as they’re usually made of plastic, they’re not always very environmentally-friendly. The good news is, it’s easy to make your own from nothing more than egg boxes, toilet paper tubes, and newspaper.

Newspaper Pots

To make paper pots, you’ll need an old newspaper (not a glossy magazine, as this will take a long time to rot down and may be printed with inks containing traces of toxic heavy metals), a pair of scissors, and a jar or glass to use as a mold. Follow the instructions below to make your newspaper pot:

1. Cut your newspaper into strips about 1 inch (3cm) taller than your jar.
2. Fold a flap along the length of a strip, then unfold the flap to leave a crease.
3. Lay your jar on the newspaper at one end of the strip so that the open end sticks out.
4. Tightly roll the strip around the jar.
5. Holding the paper closed, turn the jar on its end.
6. Fold the loose ends of the paper in to create the base, and push them down.
7. Pinch along the edges to firm them up.
8. Holding the bottom flaps, pull out the jar and firm up the base.
9. Fold the top of the paper along the crease you made earlier – this creates the rim of your pot.

Once filled with potting soil, the pot will become more stable, but it’s best to also nestle your pots side by side in a tray to keep them secure once the paper is wet.

At planting time, dig a hole into prepared soil and plant your seedling, including the pot – the paper will biodegrade within a few weeks.

Toilet Paper Tube Pots

Cut toilet paper tubes in half for most seedlings, or leave them whole for plants that need more root space – peas, corn, and tomatoes for instance. Alternatively, cut down paper towel tubes to the desired length.

Making a toilet paper tube seed pot is even easier than making a newspaper pot!

1. Cut four equally-spaced inch-long slits into one end of the toilet paper tube.
2. Fold the flaps down, alternating the tucks to create a strong interlocking base.
3. Fill with potting soil, and sow your seeds into it.

Set the tubes in trays so that they don’t fall apart as the cardboard softens. As the seedlings grow, their roots will help hold the potting soil together. You can also group pots together using string or rubber bands.

Cardboard tubes rot down more slowly than newspaper, but roots will find their own way out of the pot eventually. However, you can peel off the cardboard before planting if you prefer – it peels away very easily when wet.

Egg Crate Seed Trays

Using cardboard egg crates is the simplest method of all.

1. Cut off the lid.
2. Put the lid underneath the base for additional strength.
3. Fill the compartments with potting soil, and sow!

Be aware that the roots of some crops will soon become constricted in egg crates, so they should only be used for crops that will quickly be moved on or planted out.

When you’re ready to plant your seedlings out, egg carton cells are easily torn apart when damp. Make sure to also rip away the base of each cell to help the roots escape into the soil.

After you watch the video, why not try our easy-to-use Garden Planner for a more successful garden? Click here for free trial today.


Reader Comments

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I can remember my Dad using egg cartons way back in the late '50's on to start his tomato plants; probably other vegetables as well. It's too bad that most of the eggs sold now come in Styrofoam cartons instead of the pressed paper.

Starting seeds/paper pots

Excellent video! Very clear and simple instructions and it's nice to have it all written out to refer to later. I will definitely be doing this!! Getting my egg carton out of recycling next!! :)

paper pots

Excellent video.....I will certainly be doing this...THANKS.


sorry the instructions on making newspaper containers are too complicated for me.Maybe a drawn illustration would help.

the video is very helpful

I wasn't sure what was meant after reading the text either, but after watching the video it made perfect sense to me and it looks quite easy. The narrator does a great job of showing exactly how he makes pots in a variety of fashions. You don't even need the sound on to glean how to do it. I'm definitely going to give it a shot!


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