We’re all aware of the need to reduce household waste and reuse anything when possible. Here are some fun ideas to transform some of the items in your waste or recycling bin into flower pots. You may be surprised by some of the ideas but give them a try! We’d love to see your creations so please post any pictures in the comments.
Have a look at what goes into your bin!
My recycling bin is full of plastic milk bottles, glass jars, and empty tin cans. Occasionally there are lids from plastic containers and used tinfoil. We eat lots of mushrooms in this house so often have their rectangular, plastic cartons too.
Non-recyclables including the lids of milk or plastic bottles, broken mugs and plates, and even worn-out shoes and trainers can all be re-purposed as a quirky home for your plants. Here are 17 ideas to transform your household waste into useful plant holders.
DIY flower pot ideas
An old teapot
An unused teapot makes a fantastic plant pot. Fill it with soil and add some colourful annuals or a tasty herb.
A broken mug
An old, chipped or broken mug can make a perfect plant holder or home for a water-based plant such as watercress. Fill it with water, add some hydroponic feed and watch your plants thrive.
Cardboard egg boxes make fantastic seed trays in spring. Fill each section with soil and add seeds. The seedlings can be separated and planted directly into the soil, where the paper will decompose. It will also retain some moisture to nourish the seed for the first few weeks in the soil.
Toilet roll holders
Toilet roll holders make excellent plant holders for seeds with long roots like sweetpeas, peas or sweetcorn. In fact, they are a brilliant way to avoid root disturbance because you can plant the whole cardboard roll into the ground and it will disintegrate as the plant grows. Corn really hates the transplantation process so this avoids a lot of the hassle. Just make sure the ground they go into has a hole longer than the roll and that they have room to expand.
Empty tin cans can be recycled quickly and efficiently so the cans are back on the shelves again after a 3 month recycling period. However, if you are in the upcycling spirit, you can easily transform them into planters. Herbs, succulents and tiny flowers like sweet alyssum will grow well in a small tin can planter.
You can leave the cans as they are, paint them, or decorate them with putty and shells or pretty stones. Add some holes, and stones to help with drainage.
Read more: How to decorate a flower pot
Plastic lids make great mini planters for the right plants. Jade plant cuttings need to sit on dry soil initially, so you can use the plastic lid filled with a tiny amount of soil and watch the magic happen. Add a few stones and water them after a period of dryness and see if roots appear. Transplant them into a bigger pot when they have strong roots.
Large shells can provide perfect homes for your plants. Spider plants and succulents look amazing in shells. Add soil and some seeds or a spiderette and see how large it grows. Make sure you water plants in shells well at first because they won’t have a lot of soil and may dry out quickly. If you locate them in a bathroom, they will benefit from the extra moisture.
Plastic pots can be difficult to recycle so make a great choice for flower pots. They need to be cleaned and it is important to make a hole in the base to increase drainage. You can paint the pots or wrap them in paper or fabric. Small bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses or grape hyacinths will all work well.
Plastic bottles can be recycled but they are useful for making long-lasting planters too. They can be painted and decorated and children will love helping with this. Plastic bottle planters can easily be hung on walls or fixed to shelves to make an unusual decorative feature in your garden.
If you’ve got an old picnic basket lying around, give it a new lease of life as a stylish plant container. Line the basket first and place it on a surface where watering won’t damage it, like a patio or lawn area.
If the basket is large, it could make a potato planter, just half fill the basket with soil and add the potatoes. 3 for an average picnic-sized basket should be enough. Water them in and continue to add earth as the potatoes and green foliage starts to appear. When the potatoes have stopped growing the foliage will die back and then you can turn the basket upside down to reveal a whole crop of potatoes ready for cooking!
So many of these lie forgotten about in dusty attics. If you have one that is deep and a pretty shape, you can transform it into a charming planter. Sometimes these boxes have sentimental value and you can add a flower to suit the memory. I turned an old jewellery box into a lily of the valley planter as it belonged to my grandmother who loved those flowers. Make sure you line the box with plastic and add some stones for better drainage. Add your plant and hey presto! a planter that brings back memories.
We often have shoes, boots or wellies that are beyond repair. Try filling them with soil and adding different flowering plants. They are deep enough to house planting bulbs and I’ve seen sunflowers growing out of old wellingtons! It helps to keep your old footwear out of landfill and provides a fabulous home for a plant.
Get creative with food waste
The next few suggestions involve using plant leftovers which might end up in the waste bin but could be utilised to make new plant holders.
Over 6 million tonnes of food goes into landfill every year according to government statistics. Councils all over the UK are persuading people to only buy food as it is needed and to compost any waste skins or peelings if possible.
All my plant waste goes into the compost bin but if you live in a block of flats or have limited space, it can be difficult to recycle all your green waste. If you don’t have a composting facility, try some of these creative food planter ideas:
Coconut shells make a wonderful natural plant pot. In fact, coir potting material is made from coconut. The shell is hard and durable and can support seeds through their germination and into small plants. These can make beautiful hanging planters too.
Skins that have been stripped of fruit offer a nutritious start to many seeds. The beauty of this method is that after the seedlings have appeared, you can plant the whole thing into the ground with no root disturbance at all!
Lemon or orange halves
Lemon and orange skins are similar to grapefruit and provide nutrition for both the seeds and the soil in which they are eventually planted.
Potatoes can become a plant pot for starting new plants. Dig or cut out the centre of a raw potato and then add a spoonful of soil or compost and a few seeds. Water them well and watch them grow.
Re-grow an onion in a jar or mug
Find an onion that has green sprouts showing and sit the bulb (with green shoot pointing upwards) in a jam jar or mug full of water. The roots will grow well and you can cut the small onion bulbs which grow for up to 3-4 cuts more. Onions follow a natural cycle and try to re-grow when the season is right. You can eat the greens like spring onions and the bulbs can be chopped and cooked as onions. They will not grow as large as those in the ground but they are just as tasty.
Read more: How to make a DIY flower pot stand