Growing Seeds in Recycled Containers

Learn how to reuse food containers to grow your seeds!

bottle planter hero

Repurposing a variety of plastic food containers into pots and other growing devices will allow you to germinate seeds and grow your own food, saving money on expensive pots and reducing landfill. You will even use less water as the base of your container acts as an inbuilt reservoir!

Look for clear plastic containers with lids as these help to retain heat and moisture, producing a better strike rate for your seeds.
In the video below horticulturist Brenden will teach you how to use plastic food containers to grow your own plants.



Create your own self-watering planter

Capillary action will keep even moisture in your seed germinating soil.

  1. Use recycled plastic milk, juice or soft drink bottles.
  2. Draw a line around the middle of the bottle.
  3. With adult supervision, use strong scissors to cut the bottle on the line all the way around.
  4. Next invert the neck of the bottle so that it sits upside down inside the bottle base. 
  5. Use a natural fabric like an old sock to act as the wick by placing it through the bottle neck touching the base.
  6. Add water to the base level.
  7. Add potting mix to the top level, making sure the sock reaches from the bottom of the base, up through the neck of the top section to the top of the soil. Water will travel up through the sock and keep the potting mix moist for your seedlings.
growing seeds recycled

Create your own bottle greenhouse

A bottle greenhouse is designed to create warmth and increase moisture levels to germinate seeds and protect seedlings.

  1. Draw a line nearly all the way around a large clear PET bottle just above halfway.
  2. With adult supervision, use strong scissors to cut around the middle of the bottle, keeping a section still attached as a hinge. This allows the bottle to be closed to stop airflow, and increase warmth and moisture, which will allow your seeds to have a high striking rate.
  3. Using a slightly smaller container that will fit inside the lower half of the bottle greenhouse, fill with potting mix and plant your seeds. Place your pot of soil and seeds inside the bottom half of your bottle greenhouse. (There should be enough room to close the top.)
  4. Water gently and keep closed. 
  5. Notice how much water you save, and how well it keeps seedlings moist.

Note: use only recycled food containers as chemical containers may be harmful. Adult supervision for this activity is recommended.

plant in a cup

After you've made your planter here are some more things for you to try:

  • Get creative with recycled materials to make signage for your plants. Write the name of the plants on your tags or paint names on each pot.
  • Experiment by planting the same seeds in different types of containers, soil types, levels of light and watering. Watch the plants grow and record how well they are growing using notes or pictures every few days. Which growing conditions were the best?
  • You could also experiment germinating seeds on wet paper towel, cotton wool or coconut coir to see how each grows differently. This allows you to observe the process of germination.
  • Seed packets tell you how to plant your seeds. Experiment following and going against recommended growing methods and see which works best!

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