How to make recycled paper pots for sowing and planting

how to make paper pots, no dig, organic gardening, reduce plastic

Homemade newspaper pots are quick and easy to make and use, biodegrade in the soil and worms like munching them too! Put into reusable containers to make your own module trays or use as individual pots.

8.9 – Version 3

Growing your own food is good for the planet and your own physical and mental health – as well as being great fun! Gardeners are usually a thrifty bunch, making sure their tools last as long as possible, recycling, upcycling and sharing rather than buying new. There is a keen interest now in reducing plastic use in our homes and gardens, especially single use plastics. Increasingly aware of the horrible consequences world wide of a throwaway lifestyle, we’re looking for ways of reducing plastic in our lives.

All of my plastic module and seed trays are reusable over and over again. I’ve had most for 10 years (seed trays 15 years or more) and Charles has some that he bought more than 30 years ago. They are very useful for growing healthy transplants, are easy to transport into the garden (or car, for work or the allotment) and help to increase the productivity of the veg plot: when I clear a finished crop, I can plant the next veggie the same day. Larger transplants are more resistant to slugs and other pests and ideal for sharing surplus with friends. Of course I’m not going to discard to landfill all of the pots and trays I already have, I’ll continue to look after and use them so that they last as long as possible.

You can grow a whole salad garden ready for planting in just one module tray, especially useful when space is at a premium.

Wooden paper pot makers are widely available – I’ve had mine for about 15 years, as you can tell from the colour in the photo below!  A more frugal option is to use household objects such as spice jars or loo roll tubes. This also gives the opportunity for making different sized pots. Choose cylinders with the diameter that you want.

How to make paper pots

You’ll need your choice of tubes or jars….

(Toilet roll tubes on their own make really useful little pots but we don’t go through enough rolls in my family!)

and newspaper or magazines. I find that the free ones we can get locally are the right length for most paper pots.


First prepare the paper strips.

Fold the sheets in half, tear along the fold, place these strips to one side and repeat until you have enough for your pots. Make sure they are deep enough to form the base. You’ll need about 6 cm overhang to make the bottom of the pots.

Making the pots is easy. You might need a little practice with the first few but it quickly becomes second nature. Add any mishaps to the compost heap. It’s amazing how quickly you can get into the rhythm and turn out loads of little pots.

This little video was made by my son using my phone, no editing, so it’s very unprofessional but hopefully explains how to make the pots.

Store in sturdy boxes or crates, such as these which are discarded by greengrocers, wooden fruit trays or seed trays.

Fill with compost and sow your seeds, or prick out seedlings raised in seed trays. I usually leave a centimetre or so at the top. This stops the compost spilling out.

When ready, make a hole with a dibber and plant the whole little pot.

How to use the wooden paper pot maker

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Glass jars, tins and other household items

The technique is similar to the loo roll tube. Push the paper carefully into the bottom before removing.

Pint glasses and bean tins make handy moulds for larger pots. Use a longer sheet of paper to wrap around. You can also use plastic plant pots to make new paper ones.

What will you find in your house to use as moulds for your own pots?

I’ll be exploring other ways of reducing plastic in the home and garden in future blogs. It’s something we feel strongly about and my family have been doing for a few years. Some changes we have made include metal razors with recyclable stainless steel blades, bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel water canisters and metal lunch tins. There are more ideas in our book, No Dig Organic Home and Garden.


13 thoughts on “How to make recycled paper pots for sowing and planting”

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  3. Thanks for the great post, I look forward to checking out more of your website and blog. Last year I tryied starting seeds in toilet paper rolls but found it very hard to keep them from drying out too quickly. I stood them up inside a short seed tray with divided cells. I guess I’d have to be more vigilant with watering if I try paper pots.

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  6. Hi Stephanie, thanks for the post (I realise I’ve found it late!).

    I was wondering what your experience of using the pots is compared with module trays?

    I’m keen to try them, but I worry a bit that they might fall apart before the seedlings are ready, or transplant less easily / effectively because of the paper?


    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      I find module trays are much more substantial but the paper pots work well if one is careful when moving them. They don’t fall apart before the seedlings are ready (so far!)

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