Search My Garden Blog with Google Custom Search


Seed Starter From an Ice Cube Tray

There are many seed starters you can buy at local garden centers and nurseries. You can even save money and be a little eco-conscious by making your own biodegradable seed starting pots. Then there's a whole world of possibilities in things you can upcycle into seed starter pots like a ghetto greenhouse made from plastic soda bottles, and this seed starter from an ice cube tray.

Ice cube seed tray seed starter

A little backstory: I came across this idea one day when I wanted to buy seed seed starting trays with individual cells for multiple starts. Instead of buying the seed starters to make I came up with the seed starter ice cube tray. The idea is similar to starting seeds in cardboard egg cartons, but this seed starter can be reused and can last you for a couple of years.

Make an Ice Cube Tray Seed Starter 

Here's a video I recorded that describes to how make your one seed starter. The video above is part 1. See below for part two of the ice cube seed starter.

Part two of the ice cube tray seed starter video shows how far the lettuce seedlings have grown and how to remove them for planting in your container gardens or raised vegetable beds.

Make seed starter from ice cube tray

To make a seed starter from an ice cube tray you will need an ice cube tray, obviously, a drill with a bit about equal to the circumference of a pencil, seed starting soil and seeds. The first step is to drill holes in each cell. Using a bit the same circumfrence as a pencil has two benefits: One, you create drainage for your seedlings, and two, you can stick a pencil or chop stick in the drainage hole later to help you pop out the seedling. Finally, add your seed starting soil and and sow your seeds.

Sprouting seeds in a seed starter

Sprouting seeds in a seed starter from an ice cube tray is just as easy as sowing and germinating seeds in containers, tabletop greenhouses, and things like newspaper seed pots. As I mentioned above, these can be used reused year after year because the plastic is so durable. I've had this one for about three years now.

Salad growing in seed starter

Salad growing in a seed starter about two weeks later than the picture taken above. I used it late this summer to create salad plugs that I used to fill in some bare spots in containers. But I've used these seed starters to grow seedlings for all kinds of annuals, perennials and edible plants for the garden.

Give a seed starter from an ice cube tray a try in your garden and you'll see how much better it is to upcycle things around the house into useful items for your garden. I have found that thrift stores are a good place to locate old ice cube trays for really cheap. Especially older trays because the newer trays, and those made for mini fridges, are a lot smaller than the ones made 10-20 years ago.

Give this seed starting tip a spin the next time you need to germinate a small batch of seeds.


  1. Excellent idea. As i am moving closer to doing more seeds, i like it!

    1. Hi Webb, Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Pamela, glad you liked the idea for this seed starter.

  3. This is a wonderful idea and much sturdier then most seed starting kits that I have seen. No need to replace as often.

    1. Renata,

      This seed starter really is a lot sturdier than the ones you can buy at the garden centers.

  4. Awesome Mr. Brown Thumb!!!! Love this idea!

  5. Good idea! I was wondering what to use this time of year!

    1. Hey Monica,

      Yeah, fall garden starting is a tough time of the year. I feel less inclined to use anything that I need to spend money on so I'm looking for ways to do it on the cheap.

  6. Oh, wow, you're right they are the correct size and bottom watering would be easy.
    However! I can't be trusted with a drill of any size and will have to find someone to do that part.
    Where did you buy the ice cube trays?

    1. Hi Martha,

      Someone emailed me to point out that those who don't want to use a drill could heat up a screw driver and use the hot tip to burn the hole. I'm sure that would work, but I don't know if the heat/burning of the plastic will have any adverse side effects. But, to answer your question, I buy these ice cube trays at the thrift store. They're usually about 20-50 cents a piece.

  7. Nice example of recycle, reuse, reduce if ever I saw one. Can imagine a lot of people will run with the idea. You should repeat in the prime time of February. Don't you think?

    1. Hi Patrick, yeah, I have something planned to reuse the videos and some pictures in the fall.

  8. What I love the most about this is the small footprint of each tray. Then as plants are put into larger containers there will be more room available for them, too.

  9. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Have you had experience using egg carton? I'm wondering if the cells can be divided when the seedling is mature and planted directly into the garden.

  10. am using mixer of cow dung, compost and black soil but still no good luck with good germination of seeds, all brought seeds or collected flower seeds not germinating in healthy plants

  11. Did you use lighting, if so what type? And what type of soil?



Feel free to leave a comment. You can always use the search box for my blog or the search "Google For Gardeners" if you're looking for gardening information. If you're looking for seed saving information check out "Seed Snatcher"search engine.

Do not have a blog yourself? Comment using the "anonymous" feature. If you have a Twitter or FB account feel free to use the "Name URL" feature so other people can find you.

Thanks for visiting.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Like This Blog?

If you like this blog please subscribe via Email. No Spam, I promise, just the latest posts Emailed to you.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner