Making seed pots out of old newspapers is not only a thrifty use of the newspapers, but also good for the planet. Commercial seed pots usually make you choose between throw-away plastic, or expensive pressed peat moss pots that can go straight into the ground, but use up a scarce natural resource in the process. Newspapers are equally biodegradable, much more economical, and provide a mulch and fertilizer for young plants. Remember not to use glossy or colored pages. Most colored inks these days are soy based inks and are safe.
Using Newspaper Pots
The easiest thing about making your own recycled newspaper pots is that when your seeds are ready to transplant outdoors, the transplant shock is considerably lessened. All you have to do is be sure there are drainage holes poked in the bottom of the newspaper pots, dig your planting hole, and place the seedling, pot and all, straight into the hole with some water. As the seedling grows, the newspaper decays into the soil, giving the tender plant instant mulch and fertilizer.
Here’s a tool designed especially for making your own newspaper pots, quickly and easily.
There is a complete origami folding method that you can use. But, folding pots around a mold is perhaps the easiest and sturdiest method of making recycled newspaper pots for your seeds. These have thick bottoms and tight folds, and are very roomy for seed starting. While you can purchase pot-making wooden molds from seed and garden catalogs, it’s just as easy to form them around a tin can.
Take a whole sheet of newspaper and fold in half vertically, then cut along the crease. Each piece makes one pot. Fold it in half again, and fold an inch over horizontally to make a lip. Roll the newspaper around the can, with about two inches extending beyond the bottom of the can. Fold over these two inches to make the pot bottom. Carefully slide the newspaper off the can while holding the bottom, and fold the lip over again inside the pot to secure the folds.
This tutorial from Mother Nature Network shows the origami newspaper pot making method.
For those gardeners who don’t have the patience or time to fold newspaper pots, an easier method may be to roll them. Lay out a sheet of newspaper and prepare a glue of flour and water. Starting at one end, roll a thick dowel, soup can or sturdy cup in the newspaper a full turn, then paint the strip of newspaper close to the can with the glue. Roll another layer, glue, and repeat until you get to the end. After your tube of newspaper dries, cut it into short seed pot lengths, perhaps three inches long. This creates open-ended cylindrical seed pots that you will need to put in a tray to water and transport, but it does eliminate any concern of adequate drainage, as the seed-starting soil mix is open to the air at the bottom.
Modest Wanderer blog takes you through the newspaper pot rolling process.
Simply fill these little pots with soil mix as you would any seed pot. Place them close together on trays, so that the newspaper pots are touching each other. These pots transfer water very well, so instead of watering each seed pot individually, you can pour water into the tray and the seedlings will take it up through the bottom of the newspaper pots, whichever pot-making method you choose to use.
Want to learn more about DIY seed pots?
Don’t have any newspaper handy? What about toilet paper or paper towel rolls? See how on YouTube.
Here’s a way to create square newspaper pots quickly, described in detail on YouTube.
Pankaj Sharma says
I like it. Great Idea.
Sheri Starr says
Good idea but I wouldn’t use it for edible plants as newsprint is toxic
Katie Jense says
Today’s black and white newspaper print is usually soy based and not toxic.
Hasn’t been toxic for several years, might be toxic somewhere small but it’s hard to picture them having enough purchase power to keep old unpopular systems running. I think my home town went eco friendly decades ago.
Not true. Never was. And has been pointed out these days the ink is actually soy based, so everything in the newspaper is plant based.
Mary ann Blay says
Nice for our environment as the items are paper and will disintegrate
What about paper grocery bags? I don’t have newspaper but I have tons of brown paper bags. Do these fall apart? Do they mold easily? Can the roots really get through after transplanting? I’m really interested in doing this so my kids can make the pots and get into gardening.
Not sure why you’re taking all that time and using all that flour to make glue.
Just roll the paper around a jar, PVC pipe, or some other cylinder, leaving a little extra paper overlapping the end of the jar. crimp/fold the paper overlapping around the bottom, press flat against a hard surface, slide off the cylinder, and done.
If you really don’t like leaving a free end to slightly unravel, fold the top edge over on itself, one or two times.