7 household items you can use as seedling pots – plant up seeds and cuttings for free

Save money with these small seedling pots

Seedling starters in the garden
(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

The spring season brings a lot of new garden planting, much of which starts with sowing seeds. Seeds and seedlings often need to be started in seedling pots or trays before being transplanted into the garden. But there is no need to spend money on pots and trays thanks to our DIY seedling pot ideas that you can make from things you already have around the house.

Not only will these upcycling garden ideas save you some extra cash, but they will also repurpose a lot of waste that would otherwise end up in the bin. They can be used as seed starters, seedling pots and even planters for plant cuttings from the garden.

So without further ado, these are the 7 best DIY seedling pot ideas, all of which come recommended and approved by gardening experts. So you don’t have to worry about your seeds not germinating and plants not growing.

Wooden crate planters with flowering plants and gardening tools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

DIY seedling and cutting pot ideas

‘There are quite a few things you probably already have at home and can use as containers for gardening, varying from ones that require no effort to such that you can easily DIY,’ starts Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening expert.

Just like there are plenty of upcycled planter ideas for the garden, there are also many ways to turn household items into seed starters and seedling pots. And these ones are our favourite. 

Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

1. Use toilet paper rolls as seedling pots

Seedling starters in the garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

There are many ways to use toilet paper rolls in the garden, one of which is turning them into seedling pots.

‘The empty cardboard tubes are great for growing seedlings in,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. ‘You can bury the tube in the ground with the seedlings once they're ready to be moved, as the cardboard will decompose naturally.’

Petar continues to explain the two ways you can utilise toilet paper rolls as seedling pots, ‘toilet paper tubes can be turned into pots in two different ways. One of them is to leave the bottom open and fit them tightly together in a tray, which is also the easiest. The other is to cut out several vertical slits in the bottoms of the tubes and fold the flaps that form the bottom of the pots. This one takes longer, but the soil won't spill out of the pots if you pick them up.’

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

2. Use egg cartons as seedling trays

Store shelves with bread and egg cartons

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

The great thing about turning egg cartons into seedling trays is that one egg carton doesn’t just give you one seedling pot but at least six or 12, depending on how big yours is. 

‘You can start a dozen seedlings in a cardboard egg carton and then cut them apart when it's time to plant them,’ Petar explains. ‘The cardboard in the pots will break down as the plants grow, so there's no need to remove the plants before planting them outside.’

3. Make seedling pots out of newspapers

Newspaper seedling pots

(Image credit: Garden Organic)

If you’re up for an easy DIY project then you can make seedling pots out of newspaper

‘Making seedling pots is very simple. You'll just need to roll a doubled-up newspaper around a small jar and glue the bottom together with wheat paste,’ Petar says. Wheat paste, for those that don’t know, is a mixture of either wheat flour or starch with water which can be used as an adhesive.

Alternatively, instead of wheat paste you can use a stapler. ‘You can also fold the newspaper into a square pot and staple the edges. When the soil is warm and the seedling is mature enough to be planted in the ground, you can insert it directly with the entire pot which will decompose in the ground,’ Petar notes.

4. Use eggshells as seedling pots

A tray with eggs for baking in the kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Similarly to using egg cartons as seedling trays, you can also use actual eggshells in the garden as little seedling pots.

‘Seedling pots can also be made from eggshell halves, which fit perfectly inside an egg carton tray. You will also need to make a small hole in the bottom of each shell for drainage,’ Petar recommends so that your seedlings don’t become waterlogged.

5. Use takeaway containers as seedling trays

‘To-go food containers, especially the ones with a clear lid, can make great planting trays for seedlings. You'll need to make a few holes in their bottom for drainage, fill them with soil, plant the seeds and you can also use the clear lid as a mini greenhouse until the seedlings have germinated,’ Petar suggests.

And by extension, any form of plastic container can be turned into a planting tray or pot, including plastic bottles and yoghurt pots.

6. Make seedling pots out of plastic bottles

A plastic bottle cut in half on a patio

(Image credit: Lisa Fazzani)

There are a few different ways how to use plastic bottles in the garden, including turning them into seedling covers or pots by cutting them in half.

‘Plastic bottles can be cut up and used as mini greenhouses for your plants. Any sort of plastic that can be cut and used as a lid for plant pots can work like a mini greenhouse,’ Steve says.

7. Use tin cans as seedling pots

Herbs potted in tin cans

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

‘There are many household items that can be repurposed for use in growing seedlings and cuttings,’ Steve says.

And tin cans from canned sauces, beans and soups are one of them.

‘Clean, empty tin cans are great to be used as plant pots. Just make sure to clean them and put holes in the bottom for drainage,’ Steve advises.

The bottom line is don’t throw anything out before considering how it could be reused or repurposed in a different way than its original function.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.