Garden of Eatin' / How-To / Seeds & Seedlings

How to Make Recycled Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

How to make recycled newspaper pots for seed starting

Seed starting doesn’t always mean going out and spending money on all those nifty peat pellets and peat pots and plug trays. Often times, you can recycle seed starting containers you already have in your house.

Related: Dollar Store Deals: Secrets to Scoring Cheap Seed Starting Supplies

These newspaper seedling pots are a great, simple weekend project to use up all those newspapers you’ve already read or, if you’re like me, the Sunday sections you’ll never read.

I cranked out 40 of these newspaper pots in an hour in front of the TV one night! If you have kids who love a crafty project, making seed pots is also a good way to pass a rainy day at home.

Related: Starting Seeds in Eggshells… Cute and Yes, Even Practical

You only need three basic materials that you likely already have around the house: newspapers, scissors, and a small can.

How to Make Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

Newspaper seed starting pots are an easy DIY

If you’ve got time on your hands and a rainy day ahead, these recycled newspaper pots are the perfect project to give you a head start on the gardening season. Get the kids involved and crank out dozens of cheap seedling pots in a single afternoon!

Total Time: 5 minutes

Gather your supplies.

Gather a stack of newspaper, scissors, and a can of tomato paste to make your newspaper seed pots

Gather a stack of old newspapers, a pair of scissors, and a 6-ounce can of tomato paste.

Note: For seedlings, I find that a 6-ounce can (the kind that tomato paste usually comes in) is the perfect size. A shot glass also works well, or even a small jar (what you might find capers or curry paste in).

Cut the newspaper into long strips.

Cut the newspaper into thirds lengthwise

Grab two pages of newspaper (so you have a four-sheet stack). Cut the newspaper into thirds lengthwise, giving you three long strips.

Use the can as a mold for rolling the newspaper.

Roll the can along the newspaper away from you until it's wrapped all the way around

On the end closest to you, lay the can on its side across the strip of newspaper. Leave about 1 inch hanging off the end of the can.

Start rolling the can away from you.

Make the bottom by folding the newspaper edge down over the can

Roll the can along the newspaper until it’s loosely wrapped all the way around. (Loose being key for easy removal of the can later.)

Fold the edges of the newspaper down to form the bottom of the pot.

Fold the edges of the newspaper down

Fold the edges of the newspaper down over the can, and work your way around in a circle until all the edges are folded over firmly.

They don’t have to be perfect; you can just smush the paper down with your fingers. It’s also fine if there is a small hole where the folds meet in the middle — that just provides extra drainage.

Flip the can over so your pot is right side up.

Finished newspaper seed pot

Flip the can over so the folded edges are now on the bottom. I like to press the can down on the folds to really crease the edges against the bottom of the can.

Slide the can out to finish the pot.

Homemade paper pots for seed starting

Slide the can out and you’ve got a thrifty and biodegradable seedling pot!

Repeat the process to make as many seed starting pots as you need.

Don’t worry if it seems like the pot is flimsy or unraveling, especially at the bottom. Once filled with seed starting mix and moistened, the pot is surprisingly sturdy and holds it shape well.

The benefit to making recycled newspaper seed starters is that you can transplant your seedlings right into the garden, paper pot and all, and the newspaper will decompose naturally in the soil.

Or, simply unwrap the pot before you transplant the seedlings. Since you don’t have to dig them out of a plastic container, you won’t disturb the young roots.

Take care not to overwater, drench the bottoms, or let your seedlings live in the seed pots for more than three to four weeks, as the newspaper could disintegrate or mold.

You can toss the used newspaper into your compost pile, or repurpose it as bedding for your vermicompost bin.

See? That stack of aging newspapers in the garage can be good for your garden — in more than ways than one.

Newspaper seed starters
Yield: 3 pots

How to Make Recycled Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

How to Make Recycled Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

If you've got time on your hands and a rainy day ahead, these recycled newspaper pots are the perfect project to give you a head start on the gardening season. Get the kids involved and crank out dozens of cheap seedling pots in a single afternoon!

Prep Time 1 minute
Active Time 4 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Stack of old newspapers

Tools

  • Scissors
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Instructions

  1. Grab two pages of newspapers (so you have a four-sheet stack). Cut them into thirds lengthwise, giving you three long strips.
  2. On the end closest to you, lay the can on its side across the strip of
    newspaper. Leave about 1 inch hanging off the end of the can.
  3. Roll the can along the newspaper until it's loosely wrapped all the way
    around. (Loose being key for easy removal of the can later.)
  4. Fold the edges of the newspaper down over the can, and work your way
    around in a circle until all the edges are folded over firmly. They don’t have to be perfect; you can just smush the paper down with your fingers. It’s also fine if there is a small hole where the folds meet in the middle — that just provides extra drainage.
  5. Flip the can over so the folded edges are now on the bottom. I like to
    press the can down on the folds to really crease the edges against the
    bottom of the can.
  6. Slide the can out. You now have a thrifty and biodegradable seedling pot!
  7. Repeat Steps 1 through 6 to make additional pots.

Notes

For seedlings, I find that a 6-ounce can (the kind that tomato paste
usually comes in) is the perfect size. A shot glass also works well, or
even a small jar (what you might find capers or curry paste in).

More seed starting tips:

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on March 12, 2011.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »