Make your own newspaper seed pots

The finished pots are quite sturdy while the seeds are growing, but they’ll break down quickly once they’ve been planted in the soil, meaning you don’t have to transfer them.

What you need

  • Black and white newspaper
  • A small, glass jar

How to make it

  1. Lay a full sheet of black and white newspaper flat. Don’t use shiny, coloured paper as it may contain heavy metals that could drain into your soil.
  2. Fold the paper in half lengthwise twice to form a long, narrow strip of folded newspaper.
  3. Lay a small, glass jar on its side and place it on one end of the strip of paper. Roll the newspaper around the jar. The jar is used only as a form to roll the paper around. About half of the strip of paper should overlap the open end of the glass.
  4. Push the ends of the paper into the open end of the jar. This step doesn’t have to be neat and tidy; just stuff the overlapping newspaper into the jar.
  5. Pull the jar out of the newspaper pocket so you have the newspaper pot in your hand.
  6. Push the bottom of the jar into the newspaper cup, squashing the folded bottom to flatten. This step will seal the bottom of your pot. Once the pot has been filled with soil, the bottom will be secure.
  7. Pull the jar out and you have a finished paper pot, ready to grow seeds in.

Image credit: MyNeChimKi

How to Make Paper Pots.

First off I have to say I have NOTHING against plastic pots. In fact, I think they’re great. They hold moisture well and they can be reused year after year. But if you run out, these paper pots are fantastic.


Skip right to the instructions.

If you start your own seeds or do any sort of transplanting I have 3 words for you … ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! That means you should pay attention to what I’m about to say. Sometimes it also means a tornado is coming, but in this case it doesn’t. It’s seed starting season so if you want to make this the year you finally start your own seeds and grow a garden full of vegetables listen up.

A few years ago I got a doohickey for making paper pots. It’s just a column of wood with a recessed base. You wrap newspaper around it, smush the bottom together and WHAMMO, you have a paper pot.

I love it. It looks nice, it feels nice and best of all … it works. That isn’t always the case with doohickeys.

The only problem with I’ve found with it is, the pots I make are small.

So I went searching around the house for something that would replicate what the doohickey did, and the most reasonable facsimile I could come up with was a straight sided bottle. Wine bottle, vinegar bottle, juice bottle … anything as long as it has straight sides AND a recessed bottom.

IT HAS TO HAVE A RECESSED BOTTOM.

Sorry for yelling, but it seemed the best way to make my point.

Wanna make paper pots? Grab some newspaper, a bottle with A RECESSED BOTTOM, and … well that’s it actually. That’s all you need. Read on and you’ll find out how to make the paper pots and WHY your bottle needs to have a recessed bum.

Rip or cut a piece of newspaper. It should be the height you want your pot plus an inch or two. One inch if your pot is narrow, two inches if it’s wide.

This is an approximate measurement.

Roll your bottle until all the paper is wrapped around it.

See there? That’s the recessed bottom.

Now starting with the seam of the newspaper, push the paper into the recessed bottom. If you use a can or bottle, or something that isn’t recessed on the bottom, the paper won’t stay in position and your bottom won’t form. Then your plant will fall out the bottom. See? The bum is important.

Continue to push the newspaper in until it’s all wrapped under the bottle. Push it hard with your fingers or hand. This will help crease the newspaper and make it more inclined to hold it’s shape and not fall apart.

You now have a paper pot. My apologies to everyone who thought they were going to end up with weed. Now go finish your Cheez Doodles.

If you did a good job your pot will stand up all on its own without any soil or anything in it. If it doesn’t stand up on its own don’t worry about it. It will once you fill it with dirt.

Now fill with soil and add your teeny, tiny transplant.

QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Don’t the pots fall apart when you water them? Nope. Not for the month or two you have your seedlings in them. Don’t however leave the paper pots in standing water all day and night. Then they will indeed fall apart on the bottom.

Can you plant the entire pot? Yep. Come planting time if you want you can plant the whole plant, pot and all, which is handy for any plants that are sensitive and don’t like to have their roots disturbed.

How often should I water them? More often than you would a seedling in a plastic pot. The newspaper wicks away moisture which makes these pots dry out faster than a plastic pot.

The moral of this story? Nothing. There is no moral to this story at all. Now go make a pot.

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How to Make Recycled Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

Seed starting doesn’t always mean going out and spending money on all those nifty peat pellets and peat pots and plug trays. Often times, you can use what you already have in your house.

This is a good and simple weekend project to use up all those newspapers you’ve already read, or if you’re like me, the Sunday sections you’ll never read. I cranked out 40 of these newspaper pots in an hour in front of the TV one night!

You only need three basic materials: newspapers, scissors, and a small can. For seedlings, I find that a six-ounce can (the kind that tomato paste usually comes in) is the perfect size. A soda can also works well, or even a drinking glass.

Grab two pages of newspaper (so you have a four-sheet stack). Cut them into thirds lengthwise.

Place your can on the newspaper and leave about an inch hanging off the end. Roll the can along the newspaper until it’s loosely wrapped all the way around. (Loose being key for easy removal of the can later.)

Fold the edge of the newspaper down over the can, and work your way around until all the edges are folded over firmly. They don’t have to be perfect; you can just smash the paper down with your fingers. It’s also fine if there is a small hole where the folds meet in the middle — that just provides extra drainage.

Flip the can right side up. I like to press the can down on the folds to really crease the edges against the bottom of the can.

Slide the can out and you’ve got a thrifty and biodegradable seedling pot! Don’t worry if it seems like the pot is flimsy or unraveling, especially at the bottom. Once filled with seed starting mix and moistened, the pot is surprisingly sturdy and holds it shape well.

The benefit to making recycled newspaper pots is that you can transplant your seedlings right into the garden, pot and all, and the newspaper will decompose naturally in the soil. Or, simply unwrap the pot before you transplant the seedlings. Since you don’t have to dig them out of a plastic container, you won’t disturb the young roots. You can then toss the used newspaper into your compost pile, or repurpose it as bedding for your vermicompost bin.

See? That stack of aging newspapers in the garage can be good for your garden — in more than ways than one.

Two ways that you can make newspaper plant pots. One method gives you round pots in less than 30-seconds and the other is a square origami-style pot. Use either for starting seeds, or growing small plants in. Full video at the end.

It’s not news that our world is swimming in plastic. It litters our seas, communities, and countryside and so far the focus has been on single-use food packaging. Water bottles, carrier bags, and the like. What’s less talked about is the plastic we use in gardening. The plastic bags that compost arrives in, the flimsy pots we buy plants in. Sometimes it seems overwhelming.

Though many of these items can be reused, I’m loathe to buy any more plastic than I need to. That’s how I got into a panic.

It’s spring and my greenhouse is overflowing with seedlings. Tiny plants that need planting into their own pots. The ones I had already were used right away and before I knew it, I’d run out. Instead of guilt-buying more, the situation presented the perfect opportunity to learn how to make paper plant pots. The good news is that not only did I learn quickly, and think you can too, but you don’t need any special-made tools to do the trick.

Paper plant pots that I made yesterday and planted up with Cosmos seedlings

recycled paper pots for growing seeds and plants

The gardening industry knows that demand is increasing for eco-friendly products and you can already buy plastic-free plant pots. There’s the popular peat pots, more durable bamboo pots, and compost plug pellets, among others. They can be quite expensive if you plan on growing more than a few plants though.

Using newspaper to create your own pots is cheaper and even more eco-friendly. Use up the newspapers you have already or take some home from your local recycling center. Once made, they’re durable enough for the purpose.

Like this idea? Pin this to Pinterest

Is newspaper safe to use in the garden?

I originally shared how to make newspaper plant pots on YouTube and was surprised by how many people hadn’t heard of them before. Many people thought it was a great idea but some were worried about whether using newspaper in the garden was safe.

Ordinary newspaper with black or colored ink is considered safe to use for plant pots. In the past, inks were made with petroleum-based ingredients but these days it’s made mainly with soybean oil. That means that the ink and paper are both biodegradable. The colors in the ink come from non-organic substances but are in such small amounts that it would’t harm you to eat it. Eating newspaper might not be the best meal you’ve ever had though.

You might be unsure about your own newspaper and fortunately there are ways to check if it’s safe. Sometimes newspapers will include a section telling you about the printer, paper, and ink, so look for that first. If you can’t find anything, see if the ink rubs off on your fingers. If a lot of it does, then it’s old-fashioned petroleum ink that doesn’t completely dry. Modern soy inks don’t tend rub off. Here’s more ways to test.

As for other types of paper: avoid anything shiny. Shiny paper like the advertising inserts in some newspapers and magazines are made with paper and ink that may not be safe for your garden.

You can make round pots as big or as small as the glass jar you use to make them with

You don’t need a special tool

The reason it took me so long to make my own newspaper plant pots is that I thought that you needed this special tool. This is so wrong and I’m kicking myself for not looking into it earlier. I also found not one way but TWO ways to make paper plant pots. All you’ll need is newspaper, glass jars, and some basic crafts tools.

If you wanted to get the tool that I was thinking of, you can make smaller plant pots. They’re the type that would be most handy for growing smaller seedlings in. Saying that, I don’t think it’s necessary, especially when you see how to make plant pots using the easy method.

Roll the newspaper around the jar, crumble in the bottom, and you have a plant pot ready to go

Easy newspaper plant pots

The easiest way to transform newspaper into plant pots is by using a glass jar. The diameter of the opening will be the diameter of your pot. Use different sized jars or glasses to create different sized plant pots. Just make sure you choose vessels with straight sides rather than tapered to make your life a little easier.

Standard sized newspapers are pretty big once you unfold them. Begin by cutting one down the folding line to separate it into two pages. Take one and fold it in half lengthwise. Next, place the jar at one end so that the closed bottom sticks out by a half inch or so. Roll the paper over the glass then crumple the overhanging paper into the open end of the jar.

Pull the jar out and your plant pot is nearly complete. Just squish the crumpled paper at the bottom flat and you’re ready to go. Easy-peasy and you’re on to making the next one in only thirty seconds. If any of this didn’t make sense, just watch the instructional video at the end.

Newspaper plant pots made with the origami style are a little more involved but come out beautifully

Origami plant pots

Although the round pots are easy to make, square origami plant pots have their own charm. The learning curve on making them is higher, but once you have the method down you can make pots relatively quickly. It’s also a brilliant skill to have for making small gift boxes.

For this method I’m going to direct you to the video since it’s makes more sense to watch. The video clip below this section shows how to make them.

The most important thing to know before making origami plant pots is about paper size. You will most likely need to measure and cut your newspaper down before you begin folding. Your paper needs to be in a ratio of 1:2, meaning that it’s length should be double the size of its width.

  • A piece of paper sized 11×22” will give you a finished pot that is 3” square
  • Paper sized 8.5×17” will make a pot that’s almost 2” square
  • Starting with paper sized 6×12” makes 1” square pots

How long do newspaper pots last?

Although paper plant pots seem like they would disintegrate, they’re actually relatively durable. The easier to make round pots have quite a few layers and that sturdy crumpled bottom. They are more hard wearing than the origami pots and standing up well in my greenhouse after several weeks.

Newspaper pots I’ve received in the past have lasted well over that. The rim of the pots that don’t get as wet actually hardens over this time. I’ve had to pick it off before planting the seedlings out.

This is my first time using the origami style pots. Though they’re not as sturdy they’re still holding their own.

Over time the newspaper will discolor and wrinkle but it does hold together

Mold on newspaper pots

Another concern people have over paper plant pots is mold. Sometimes it starts growing on the sides of the pot and you might worry that it will affect your plants. Let me put your mind at ease.

Any color of fuzzy growth, or white filaments are mold and bacteria that feed on non-living organic matter. It’s a big issue in the book world when paper gets damp or is stored in humid conditions. The same thing happens to me sometimes when I grow plants in toilet paper rolls. These growths are interested in breaking down the cellulose in the paper, not your plants.

So when it comes to growth or mold on paper plant pots, don’t let it bother you.

Use trays to support your paper plant pots

Planting newspaper plant pots

Fill the pots you’ve made with compost, plant your seedling or sow the seeds, and water it. Treat it the way you’d treat any other plant pot. One thing that I’d recommend is setting them in some type of container that will give them a bit more support. I’m using empty seed trays and trays that I bought mushrooms in at the shop.

The pots will discolor and possibly mold with time but as long as the plants look healthy you’re fine. When it comes time to plant out, don’t forget to harden the plants off. Then you can plant them in the soil paper and all or gently pull the paper off first and compost it.

As already mentioned, newspaper is generally considered to be non-toxic. There are trace amounts of pigments that add the black or color to the ink but these too are not considered to be a threat. If they were, then just licking a finger to turn the page in reading the paper would be a hazardous act. Thankfully it’s not, or I’m sure folks would be lining up to sue.

More recycled gardening ideas

I hope you’ve found this recycled gardening idea helpful and please do watch the full video above. If you enjoy my videos I also invite you to subscribe to Lovely Greens on YouTube.

There are quite a few other items that you can recycle for use in the garden too. Plastic fruit and veg trays from the supermarket can make seedling trays. Paper cups can make plant pots – better yet if you can pick them up used from a coffee shop. There are loads more ideas over here.

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Think Green

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.

Origami Method

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.

Rolling 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.

Seed Starting

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.

Decorating, either inside or outside, can be pricey, but two Los Angeles DIY design divas offer plenty of solutions for repurposing and planting.

Annette Gutierrez and Mary Gray, long-time proprietors of the garden go-to Los Angeles store called Potted, spent a year experimenting with everyday materials to create lovely containers suitable for any room in your home or even outside.

The book, “Potted: Make Your Own Stylish Containers’’ (Timber Press, $19.95) provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to take yard sale or hardware store finds or even concrete, plastic, metal and driftwood and turn them into attention grabbers.

Fall is here and with it that seasonal pull to plant. It can be hard to contain yourself when trying to choose the right vessels, especially with so many options, but Gutierrez and Gray point you in the right direction with 23 easy and affordable projects.

“It’s funny. Timber Press came to us and asked us to write the book. We thought, we sell these, but you want us to write a book about this?’’ said Gutierrez with a chuckle. “Then we realized a lot of people can’t afford what we sell.”

They put their heads together, experimented, failed, tried again and came up with almost two dozen fun planter projects for those who can’t get ready made containers, but want the same aesthetic. You only have to look to Pinterest to see the truth in that statement.

“The book is about making DIY containers with stuff you can find, but we tried to put our spin on it,’’ she said. “There’s some pretty cool projects in there,’’ Gutierrez said.

Writing a how-to book sounds relatively easy. It’s not, she said.

“We had to figure out the projects. It was hard. We even had some that we just had to make up.” Example, the pair’s “Marbleized Masterpieces’’ turning plain terra-cotta containers into swirled art by coming up with their own slightly tricky painting style took multiple tries.

The projects and the time it takes to accomplish them vary from less than an hour – “Trash Chic” transforming a simple garbage can with some paint and stencils – to a bit more time – “The Modern Rectangle’’ using backer board for a hipster planter. But the authors make the artistic journey easy by providing plenty of photos, even ones showing the necessary tools involved (essential for those who may not know the difference between a handsaw and a hacksaw).

Although plants provide most of the color and texture and garner most of the attention, don’t discount containers, which can be very important, “Especially for people who don’t have the space or yards. And right now, the biggest trend we’re seeing is houseplants. People want green in their lives whether that’s on their patios, balconies, yards or inside their homes,’’ she said.

Personally, Gutierrez likes plants that catch people by surprise. “I love containers to just pop out in the middle of a planting. I like seeing the highs and lows of a space. I like having a gazing ball or container that adds interest.”

Containers can and should be considered focal points. “The plant is always going to be the star, but if you’re going to spend all this time and money on a container don’t plant a plant that covers it up. The plant is not a throwaway but sometimes a plant can overpower a container.”

When selecting a container, consider space. Assess the need of the plant and the limits you face. “I like pots that punctuate a landscape,’’ she said. “Pots can fill up a space and exercise control. Succulents, for one, grow to their environment and most actually do better in them. They like being crowded.”

Gutierrez and Gray both worked in the film industry and brought different creative perspectives to Potted, the store, when they first opened more than a decade ago. “When we started these stores didn’t exist,’’ Gutierrez said. “We wanted a home store for the garden. We emphasized decor. I loved plants, but I’m not a plant person. I looked at the yard and saw how to decorate it.”

They agreed on one thing – wanting to come up with a place where people could shop for the exterior of their homes with the same choices as their interiors. During the years, they’ve added more plants. They’re especially fond of cactus, succulents and houseplants, all of which like to nestle in containers.

DIY Info

What: “Potted: Make Your Own Stylish Containers’’ (Timber Press, $19.95)

Where: Potted, the store, featuring outdoor furnishings, pottery, plants and fountains, 3158 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles

Information: 323-665-3801; pottedstore.com

  • The store offers unusual plant containers and other outdoor home decor items. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Potted, the store, has a huge customer following of individuals looking for distinct decorating pieces. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Sound The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Houseplants are trending now and so are various containers for them that come in all shapes and sizes. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Take a wastebasket, paint and some stencils and you can create a lovely container. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Mary Gray and Annette Guiterrez now can add author to their resumes. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Cinder blocks provide the basis of a fabulous outdoor plant container. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Succulents are particular favorites since they enjoy container living. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Backer board is used to create an oversized planter. (Courtesy photo Potted)

  • Artistic sculptural piece? Yes, but one made of plastic pipe. (Courtesy photo Potted)

Show Caption of Expand

Newspaper seed starting pots are easy to make, and great for growing your own seedlings. They are fun and quick to make, and you don’t have to be crafty for this DIY project. In this tutorial, I’ll show you step-by-step how to make both round and square newspaper pots for seedlings.

Growing your own seeds is fun and a great way to save some money on gardening. If you want to save even more money, then making your own newspaper seed starting pots is the perfect project for you.

Making DIY newspaper pots for starting seeds indoors is really easy and doesn’t require a lot of time or materials. But not only is it economical, it’s also better for the seedlings, since the pots can be planted directly into the ground.

Your plantable pots don’t need to be incredibly strong either. The whole point is that they will break down quickly so you can plant the entire pot directly into the soil without worry.

Here’s what you’ll find in this tutorial for making newspaper seedling pots. Click the links to skip to the section you’re most interested in, or keep reading to learn everything…

  • Is Starting Seeds In Newspaper Safe?
  • Benefits Of Using Newspaper Pots For Seedlings
  • How Long Do Newspaper Pots Last?
  • How To Make Newspaper Pots
    • How To Make Round Pots
    • How To Make Square Pots
  • Tips for Using DIY Paper Pots
  • How To Water Newspaper Pots
  • Preventing Newspaper Pots Mold Growth
  • Tips For Planting Biodegradable Seedling Pots

Is Starting Seeds In Newspaper Safe?

I get this question a lot… “is using newspaper pots for seedlings safe?“. All that ink and processed paper makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But the answer is, YES!

Modern newspapers are printed using soy-based ink, which is biodegradable and non-toxic. So you can make all of the newspaper seed starting pots you need without worrying about harming your seedlings or the environment.

Benefits Of Using Newspaper Seed Starting Pots

If you’re considering using newspaper pots for starting seeds – you have a lot to gain and not much to lose. Here are the benefits of using them…

  • Budget-friendly – You can buy newspaper for a fraction of the cost of buying pots from the store. And if you already get the paper delivered to your home or office, making your own pots is free! It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Environmentally friendly – Using newspaper pots for seedlings is a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle!
  • Better for your seedlings – Moving your seedlings out of their pot and into the ground (or another pot) can send them into transplant shock. When you use plantable pots like these, the seedling roots don’t get disturbed, which greatly reduces the risk of transplant shock.
  • Plantable – Since these pots are plantable, you can transplant them directly into the garden or a larger pot. No need to remove the paper, it will naturally decompose. Easier for you, easier for the seedling!
  • Fun to make – These newspaper seedling pots are quick and easy to make. So even if you don’t have a crafty gene, it’s fun to create them! You can even get the whole family to help – it’s a really great project for kids.

How Long Do Newspaper Pots Last?

Newspaper seed starting pots are not meant to last more than a few weeks before transplanting. After all, they’re made of paper. And once you start watering your seeds, the pots will weaken.

But remember, they are meant to break down quickly. So that when you plant them, the seedling roots can easily break through the paper and grow undisturbed.

If you need your seedling pots to last longer, try making the newspaper thicker by doubling it up. Or use a thicker type of paper to make them instead. Experiment with paper grocery bags or a similar type of paper, and see how well that works for you.

Round newspaper seed starter pots

How To Make Newspaper Pots For Seedlings

Below I am going to show you the steps for how to make both round and square pots. The round newspaper pots are perfect for starting most types of seeds. The square pots are a great size for growing larger seeds or potting up seedlings.

Once you get the hang of making these, you can modify the steps below to create different sized pots to fit your needs.

To make these pots, you only need a few supplies (which you probably already have on hand). Never use tape or glue to hold the folds in place though. Tape and glue usually aren’t biodegradable, and you don’t need them for making these DIY plantable pots.

Are you ready to try your hand at making newspaper seed starting pots? Let’s get started!

How To Make Round Paper Seed Pots

These round pots are the easiest and quickest to make. You only need a few basic household items to make your very own round newspaper seedling pots…

Supplies Needed For Round Seed Starting Pots

  • Newspaper (don’t use the glossy pages or inserts, they don’t break down as fast as newsprint)
  • A small round jar, aluminum can, or a newspaper pot maker
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Potting soil for starting seeds
  • Seeds

Supplies needed to make your own plantable pots from newspaper

Steps For Making Round Pots

To make round newspaper seed starting pots, you’ll only need about 2 minutes per pot.

Step 1 – Cut the paper: Using your ruler as a guide, cut your newspaper into 5-7 inch wide strips. Use the width of the open sheet as your length. Depending on the size of your newspaper, you can cut it in half (like I did) or try to get three strips out of one paper if it’s long enough. You only need one strip per pot.

Step 2 – Make a crease in the paper: Lay out one strip of newspaper. With the strip laying lengthwise, fold down one inch of the paper just to make a crease. Promptly unfold it. Making this crease will help to fold over the top of the pot in the final step to give the sides strength.

Creasing the strip of newspaper

Step 3 – Line up the can on the newspaper: Line up the top of your jar, can or newspaper seedling pot maker with one edge of the paper. There should be a couple of inches of paper sticking out along the bottom end of the can (i.e.: the newspaper should be longer than the height of the can).

Step 4 – Roll the newspaper around the can: With your hand, hold one side of the newspaper and guide it around the can as you roll it along the table until all of the paper is rolled up around the can.

Rolling the newspaper around an aluminum can

Step 5 – Wrap the paper around the bottom of the can: Once the newspaper is rolled up around the can, fold the excess paper to cover the bottom of the can. Just like wrapping the end of a present!

Step 6 – Slide the can out of the paper: Once you’ve got your fold, it’s time to remove the can. The newspaper should be snug around the can, so be patient and let it slide out slowly with the help of gravity.

Newspaper folded around the bottom of the can

Step 7 – Fold in the bottom of the pot: To help hold the bottom folds in place, push the fold towards the inside of the pot. You can even use your fingers to enforce a crease along the edges.

Step 8 – Fold over the top of the pot: Fold the top one inch of the top of the pot into the middle of the pot, using the crease you made in Step 1 to make it easier.

Round newspaper pot completed and ready to use

How To Make Square Origami Newspaper Pots

These square origami newspaper pots are slightly more complicated to make than the round ones above, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it.

There’s not really any huge benefits of making the pots square -vs- round. But some people find that the square pots line up in the seed trays better than the round ones.

Here are the steps for making DIY square pots…

Supplies Needed For Square Seedling Pots

  • Newspaper (again, stick to using the newsprint pages only, and don’t use the glossy pages or inserts)
  • Scissors
  • Seed starting soil mix
  • Seeds or seedlings

Square Newspaper Seedling Pot Steps

To make square origami newspaper pots, you’ll only need about 4 minutes per pot (maybe even less if you become an origami folding pro!).

Step 1 – Cut the newspaper: Cut a full sheet (meaning it contains two pages on one piece) of newspaper right down the middle (the fold).

Step 2 – Fold the paper in half: Fold the sheet in half from top to bottom.

Step 3 – Crease it to create a line: Fold it in half from side to side, make a crease, and then unfold. You only do this to get the crease.

Step 4 – Fold in the bottom corners: Position the newspaper so the open side is facing away from you, and the folded edge is facing toward you. Next, fold the bottom left corner up towards the middle crease. You’re making a triangle with this fold, and one edge will completely touch the middle crease. Repeat this fold on the other side.

Folding the bottom corners of the newspaper

Step 5: Take the top open edge of the newspaper (leave the bottom one where it is) and fold it over straight edge of the triangles you created in Step 4. You’ll see a rectangle on top of two triangles.

Folding the top edge of the newspaper over the triangles

Step 6 – Flip it over: Flip the entire newspaper over.

Step 7 – Fold in the two sides: Using the center crease as your guide, fold the side of the newspaper towards that middle crease. Repeat on the other side.

Folding in the two sides to form the square pot

Step 8: Fold the remaining unfolded edge of the newspaper in towards the middle. If you have a longer newspaper, fold this piece in on itself twice. This will create a flap that you can tuck inside the lip or pocket that has formed from the side folds you did in Step 7. Shorter papers do not require this step.

Folding the last edge of newspaper into the center of the pot

Step 9 – Open and shape your square pot: It’s time to reveal your square newspaper pot! Find the inside of your shape and gently push the sides out. The bottom will have a small triangle shape that you will need to fold so that it will sit flat.

As you push the sides out, you’ll notice this small triangle piece doesn’t have a natural place to go. Simply use your fingers to fold it, making a small triangle on the bottom of your pot. Work with the folds and continue to press and mold the pot until it forms a square.

Square newspaper pot done and ready to use

Tips for Using DIY Paper Seedling Pots

When you’re done making all of your pots, it’s time to start using them! Here are some quick tips for how to use them properly for planting seeds or seedlings…

  • Fill pot with moist soil – It’s best to water the soil BEFORE putting it into the newspaper pots. This will make it much easier to water them after planting, and prevent the soil from drying out so fast.
  • Plant your seeds – There’s nothing special here, you can simply plant your seeds just like you would in any other type of pot. Then place the pots into the seed tray, or other shallow container.
  • OR pot up your seedlings – When potting up seedlings, plant each one at the same depth as it was in the original seed tray/pot. If you used paper pots for growing your seeds, you can simply plant the whole paper pot into the new seedling pot. Learn more about repotting seedlings here.

How To Water Newspaper Seedling Pots

Properly watering newspaper seed starting pots will help to make them last longer, and prevent problems with mold growth and overwatering. Watering from the top can cause damage to the seedling, and also to your paper pot.

The best way to water your seedlings is from the bottom. You can do this by simply filling the seed trays with an inch or so of water, and allowing the soil to soak it up.

Don’t let them sit in water too long though, be sure to dump out any water that hasn’t been absorbed after 30 minutes. This helps to prevent mold growth, and to keep the integrity of your newspaper seedling pots strong for a longer period of time.

Square newspaper pots for seedlings

Preventing Mold Growth On Newspaper Pots

These newspaper pots for seedlings are great for so many reasons, but you do have to watch out for mold growth. It’s a common issue for all types of plantable pots since they’re made of organic materials and break down easily.

If you notice mold growth on your newspaper pots, they may be too warm or too wet, or they aren’t getting enough air circulation. Here are a few tips for preventing mold growth on biodegradable pots…

  • Too much heat – Remove any bottom heat that you may be using, or lower the room temperature where you are growing your seedlings.
  • Too much moisture – Allow the pots to dry out before watering again. When it comes time to water, do it from the bottom instead of the top. And don’t mist seedlings that are growing in plantable pots.
  • No enough airflow – Give them more air circulation. Remove the plastic lids, and try placing the pots further apart in the tray so they aren’t touching. You can also run an oscillating fan over your seedlings to improve airflow.

Learn more about how to prevent mold growth on seedlings and pots here.

Seedlings potted in newspaper pots

Tips For Planting Biodegradable Seedling Pots

When you are ready to plant your newspaper seed starting pots, here are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful transplant:

  • Plant the entire pot – Leave the newspaper pot where it is. There’s no need to remove the paper, or rip holes in it before planting your seedlings into the garden.
  • Water them well – After you plant the pot, water it really well to ensure the paper is saturated. This will help the pot break down faster, so that the seedling roots can easily break through.
  • Ensure all of the newspaper is covered – While you don’t have to remove the newspaper, make sure none of it is sticking out of the soil after planting. If any part of the plantable pot sticks out above the soil, it can wick water away from the seedling root-ball. If some is sticking out of the soil after planting, simply rip the paper at the base of the soil.

Now you have your very own newspaper seed starting pots! I told you they were fun and easy to make. By making these newspaper pots for seedlings, you’re being kind to your seedlings and the environment. Plus you’ll be saving even more money.

Do you want to learn more about how to grow your own seeds? Then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook is perfect! It’s a quick-start guide to growing plants from seed indoors. !

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More Seed Starting Posts

  • How To Make Your Own DIY Seed Starting Mix (With Recipe!)
  • Seed Starting Peat Pellets vs. Soil: Which Should You Use And Why?
  • How To Disinfect Seed Trays And Flats Before Starting Seeds Indoors
  • How To Test The Viability Of Seeds With An Easy Seed Germination Test

Share your tips for using or making newspaper seed starting pots in the comments section below!

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