Easy DIY Upcycled Planters & Seed Starters for Gardening

Gardening in small spaces is a great way to bring fresh ingredients into your diet. We chose cardboard to make these upcycled planters and seed starters because we wanted a plastic-free option. These planters can be made from what you have on hand and are perfect for starting seeds or herb gardening.

Easy Upcycled Planters for Gardening

Little hands can easily help. There’s no need for perfection with these. And you’ll be helping to grow a good eater by getting your child involved in gardening.

A study from the American Dietetic Association found children who participated in garden projects had increased interest in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Gardening is also an excellent form of exercise – burning 200 or more calories per hour – and school garden programs have been shown to help reduce the risk of childhood obesity.

8 Non-Plastic Household Items That Make Great Seedling Starters

While it might be tempting to buy the plastic seed starter trays with 700+ cells, it’s also kind of wasteful and more expensive. Also, when plastic is heated (via the sun or under grow lights) it can start to release toxins and endocrine disruptors.

Here are 8 items you can repurpose or upcycle into seed starters:

  • egg cartons
  • egg shells
  • toilet paper or paper towel rolls
  • citrus fruits
  • avocado peels
  • newspaper
  • ice cube trays (opt for silicone instead of plastic)
  • cupcake liners

DIY Upcycled Planters & Seed Starters

If you need some inspiration on how to use them, here’s all you need to get started with these upcycled seed pods and planters.

Planter Materials:

  • Empty Cartons
  • Scissors
  • Soil
  • Seeds or plants


Have one or many, these easy planters are cute, functional and perfectly sized for herbs or small flowers.

  • Rinse carton and let dry.
  • Using a knife or scissors, carefully cut out one side of the carton.
  • Fill with soil, plant your seeds (or seedlings!) and watch them grow.

Because these cartons are made for liquids, you can water your plants without fear of leaking – just be sure to give you plants plenty of sunlight and resist the urge to over-water.

DIY Upcycled Seed Starter Pods

Seed Pod Materials:

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Scissors

Seed Pod Instructions:

An outdoor garden is great, but putting plants out too early can put them at risk of becoming under nourished, eaten by wildlife, or frost-damaged.  Start your little seedlings indoors affordably with these super simple pods that fit nicely on a windowsill.

  • Remove any leftover toilet paper from your roll.
  • Cut the roll in half.
  • Make four cuts about 1” deep evenly around one end of the tube.
  • Fold the ends in (much like closing a box).
  • Place a folded a square of TP in the bottom of the planter to keep dirt from spilling out of the bottom.
  • Fill with soil and plant the seeds of your choice.

When they are ready for the sun, place them in a windowsill or set them outside on warmer days.

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