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Paper Tube Seed Pot Holder

It is the time of the year when many gardeners start to get restless and and our minds turn to thoughts of spring and summer in our gardens. To get us through these tough times we start sowing seeds indoors and raise the sprouts in the hopes that they'll be bigger plants that we can plant into our gardens and or containers in the spring and watch them grow into full-sized annuals, perennials, edibles and tropicals. Gardeners are pretty creative in the methods they use to start seeds and have come up with many different tricks to save money in the seed sowing process. We grow seeds in plastic bottles, sprout seeds in plastic sandwich bags, roll newspaper pages into seed pots, use paper tubes and eggshells to grow seeds.

Paper tube seed pot holderOther items that can be put into your seed sowing arsenal are plastic containers that you get fast food in or food items from your deli or bakery. I recently came across this plastic container for cupcakes and as I was about to throw it away it dawned on me that I could keep it and use it to sow seeds. This makes a perfect paper tube seed pot holder because the container is made of a really durable plastic and the circles are almost the same size as the paper tube seed pots. The lid seals the containers pretty well and is a safeguard in case your seed pots should ever tip over. Another benefit of this plastic container is of course that it is transparent allowing light but it has a flat top so you can stack several of these on top of each other. I like the ability to stack them because they take up less space and I can shuffle the seed pots to the top of the stack as the seeds inside germinate.

Paper tube seed pot holder close upHere, a close-up view of the paper tube seed pot holder shows that I've cut the paper tubes into three inch lengths to give some head space so that the seeds don't touch the plastic cover when they sprout.

The seed starting "soil" I'm using here is actually coconut husk that has been finely shredded. If it doesn't look familiar to you it may be because it is mostly seen as a dry circular disk that you get in products like Amaryllis bulb kits. I don't like to use it to grow my bulbs in so I keep the disks around and use them as my seed starting soil. You can also find the same material in pet stores sold as bedding for reptiles. It is pretty affordable and comes in a brick form that you submerse in water to make it expand. It works just like the peat pellets you'll find in garden centers and garden catalogs except it is very sustainable unlike the peat. When preparing my paper tube seed pots I like to moisten the seed starting "soil" not only because you have to with the coconut fiber but because it allows me to pack in the soil and make sure that each paper tube is filled tightly with soil. This will help a little keep your paper tube seed pots together longer.

paper tubes to be used to start seedsThis is just a terracotta pot with several paper tubes inside of it. I found it like this in one of the bathrooms. I had accidentally left the empty pot in a spare bathroom when I was bring in plants this past fall and had forgotten about it. A week or so later I went looking in the bathroom for the lost pot and found it stuffed with paper tubes. No, I don't have a helpful family-they're just lazy.

What are your seed starting tips and tricks?

Related Posts

Plastic bottle seed starter.
Sandwich bag seed starter.
Seed starter pot from newspaper.
Homemade seed pots.


  1. Anonymous5:22 PM

    I love coco coir! I wasted so much money on those stupid little peat pucks. Plus, it is a great soil conditioner when transplanted.

    This is a great post. Keep up the great work!

  2. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Well, Mr BT, you've almost convinced me to try growing from seed again. I love the look of the little seed pots in the muffin containers.

    And of course your family is helpful!

  3. Wow, I bought something almost exactly like that from wall-mart. Except the bad part is that it cost money. Hope I can do something like this for free.

  4. I'm glad I found your blog today. I've been searching for items to use for starting seeds. Your muffin container is a great choice. It also makes me wonder if the aluminum muffin pans (with holes punched in the bottom) would work. They can be found at thrift shops for very little $.

  5. What a great idea! I have some seeds to start, will have to start looking for discarded plastics on the curb :)

  6. Great ideas! Last year I ctually found some "expanding pucks" of coir at Menard's of all places! I like the cardboard roll idea though, I usually just recycle them anyway. Heh, at least your family is "accidentally" helpful. :)

  7. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Great post! I love finding ways to reuse containers... what a perfect idea for a cupcake package!

  8. BTW, I found a link to the coir growing pellets that I'd used in the past..

  9. LOVE the cupcake container idea! I'd forgotten about using cardboard rolls - thanks for the reminder.

  10. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Very clever repurposing of something that would just end up in a landfill. I've never tried using tp tubes for starting seeds. Do you just plant the entire thing into the garden when the seedlings are large enough?

  11. Anonymous8:40 PM

    Hi - I use the paper tubes for seed starting, too, both in the shed and in garden beds.

    I also cut the side out of a wax-coated one quart, half and half container and planted seeds in it.

    Plastic milk jugs are great for winter sowing seeds outside. Cut the container three-fourths around, leaving the handle in tact. Make drainage holes. Put in 3-inches of soil. Plant seeds. Tape the jug closed and put it outside.

    The newspaper seedpots you mentioned in another post are something I haven't tried yet. Thanks.

  12. I am visiting your blog, found it interesting.
    My Mother's blog: Sweet Home and Garden Chicago,
    I too am a Chicago Gardener, but mostly an indoor
    gardener. Thanks...

  13. Very clever. I don't start seeds--I'm just too impatient--but I've thought of doing some seed starting with cacti recently. However, since cactus is so slow growing, using plastic cups where the seedlings will remain for several years is the usual method for them. One time I acquired a barrel cactus in a plastic cup and had been started there 6 years before!

  14. What a great idea! I'm so ready to start my seeds. I'll have to start saving the cardboard from my t.p now.

  15. Yes, I feel the same. However, the San Francisco sun has fooled me into thinking it is Spring. Great blog. I will be back!

    Come visit Plant Rescue on blogspot.

  16. I'm also frugal and that's part of the reason I love winter seed sowing. We also use toilet paper rolls, btw. I also use milk jugs.

  17. Red-Thanks.

    Nik-Hope you do save you some cash.

    Jordan-lol, sorry about that. Hold off on buying a "biodome" until my next post.

    Roses & Lilacs-probably would work. If you try it and have any joy with it please come back and let me know.

    OhioMom-I know you already did 'cause you told me in email. Can't wait 'til I see your results.

    Lisa-Menards sometimes surprises you. One year I found horticultural charcoal there. Haven't seen it anywhere else since.

    Anne-Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by.

    GardenGirl-Not a problem.

    Perennial gardener-I do indeed just plop them in the soil. By the time they're ready to go out though the tube is starting to fall apart.

    Martha-Hope you try the newspaper idea and have a lot of success.

    Cathy-I see plants and blogging must be genetic.

    Aiyana-Six years in the same pot must be really boring for the plant. ;0)

    Robin-Good luck with saving. For me the hardest part is remembering not to throw them out.

    Jaren-I've been to your blog and perhaps even commented. I think I was there about two weeks ago but didn't comment because I didn't know if I should.

    Monica-Isn't it cool to be frugal even when it isn't in vogue because the economy makes you?

  18. Anonymous3:10 PM

    I think I read a similar article from you last year, and admired your resourcefulness even then. As a matter of fact, re-using old containers and growing your own seed is not only frugal, but -- as a means of recycling -- also very friendly to the environment. That you do this so enthusiastically shows you are a real gardener.
    I myself find it very difficult to throw useful things away, so I've got quite a big collection of pots and boxes from the supermarket to choose from when the seeding season begins.

  19. great idea! I find myself saving all kinds of containers for seeds or other uses in the garden. I guess all gardeners think alike! LOL

  20. aha

    Very lucky to go over your blog it is so wonderfull world

    I like garden sight and special multifarious flowers it seems great and comfertabl environment

    plant can change update life and bring more fresh air and fresh feeling
    I like it but i think it is better to protect them with my metal fence aha it will be most wonderful hehe

    i like green world like plant like fllower

  21. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Great idea! I use paper egg cartons, especially for small plants that are supposed to be just a few inches apart, but I love how these have no bottom. I also use paper seed pots made from regular copy paper because I don't have any newspaper: all my news has a .com after it!

  22. Do you poke holes for drainage in the bottom of the plastic muffin tins and the top for ventilation?

  23. machelle,
    Thanks for the great feedback.


    Emma Giles Powell,
    Good tips, I like to make paper pots too.

    You know, I don't. But you can if you want or need to if you find you have excess water. I usually keep a good eye on how much water I'm adding and how much is still in the container.

  24. Clear "clam shell" containers strawberries, mushrooms, etc. come in, work well too. they have convenient slits in the bottom which allow for drainage. I fill them with planting medium, sprinkle the seeds on top, soak well and place in a well lit place (windowsill). The closed atmosphere that's created becomes a wonderful mini-greenhouse. Watch closely though so the soil doesn't dry out. I live in Arizona and start most of my seeds in this manner. Makes transplanting easy too. Recycle, Reduce, Re-use!

  25. Hi Karen,

    Yup, those work too for seed starting greenhouses.

  26. I've used the mini-cupcake containers before also! They are great for holding peat pellets. I'll have to try the paper towel cardboard roll!

  27. Betty8192:32 PM

    I just came across your article on planting seeds in toilet paper or paper towel tubes, inside a bakery container, which has about a dozen "cups". What a great idea! What originally came into that plastic container? Cupcakes? I'm going to look for those but I don't like cupcakes!

  28. Betty, They were cupcakes in there originally. If you don't like 'em ask the deli/bakery person at your local big box grocer and see if they'll let you take an empty one from the cupcakes that get tossed out.

    Or buy some as a "gift" for your co-workers and when they eat all of the cupcakes keep the plastic holder.

  29. Anonymous10:08 PM

    When you don't have the room. You can use cotton balls in a plastic bag and put a little water so the cotton balls are wet not to wet. Put the seed on the cotton balls then close the plastic bag up,tape to a window where it can get 8-12 hour of sun. But check on the seed so they don't meldo or rot. Plant with cotton ball in pot when ready. You also cut half of a plastic coke bottle,put the top half down in bottom half. Using a shoe string not the round shoe string,they need to be flat to work. I cut the shoe string the link of the coke bottle so the shoe string fix up through the top where the lid goes. The pour some water in the bottom so the shoe string get wet. Put the cotton ball over the shoe string in the top of the bottle. Put your seed on top of the cotton ball. The shoe string will draw up water from the bottom of bottle which wet the cotton ball,which water the seed. Put this is a sunny window. plant the seed with the cotton ball when ready to plant.

  30. Love the idea of using a cupcake container. I live with a fan of those two-bite cupcakes. Are there plastic numbers that are preferred over others? I seem to remember Grow Great Grub mentioning plastics...

  31. @Garden Manifesto, You know I don't often pay attention to the plastic numbers, but I remember the section in the book you're talking about. I pay more attention to the "feel" and strength of the plastic. If it's the kind of plastic used for clam shell packing it works best. If it's the kind of plastic you can easily crush with a finger I generally try to avoid it.

  32. Great post! I just started gardening last year, with some success. I currently have a little indoors greenhouse with strawberry seeds sprouting in it. Check out my blog at

  33. Anonymous10:28 AM

    How do you keep the soil in the toilet paper roll? You don't mention making a bottom. Only show using a tray that appears to be made for the roll?

  34. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Those TP rolls are also great for mailing small bare root plants. 5 rolls (10 plants, if packed head to toe with roots wrapped in plastic film secured with a rubber band) fit into a flat rate Priority Mail USPS video tape sized box.

  35. Anonymous3:43 AM

    how do you keep the seedling wet? how often and how much do you water them?



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