7 Cheap Seed Starting Pots

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This is the time of year that we start thinking about planting seeds. Some years, we plant hundreds of seeds, so we always try to do it as economically as possible. 

My solution is homemade seed starting pots. They are easy to make and use recycled materials. Certainly frugal gardening at its best.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Empty Toilet Paper Rolls

What You Need-

  • Empty Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Scissors
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds 

How to Make-

  1. Cut the toilet paper roll in half
  2. Make four cuts in the roll, 1/3 of the way up
  3. Fold in the bottom like you would close a box
  4. Fill them with a light potting soil, pack it down with your thumbs.
  5. Add your choice of seed, planting to their proper depth.
  6. Place the planted pots in a watertight container and give them a good watering. You want to completely soak the paper roll and keep it wet the whole time you are growing.
  7. Place your container in a Ziploc bag or cover it with a clear plastic bag. You are creating a small greenhouse, trapping in the moisture, until the seeds sprout.
  8. Take off the plastic once your seeds reach the top. They will need air circulation, otherwise, the toilet paper seed pots may mold.

Egg Shells

What You Need-

  • Empty eggshell halves, rinsed
  • Recycled egg carton
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

How to Make-

  1. Start with clean eggshells. It’s fine to use unevenly cracked shells, as long as you have at least half the shell intact.
  2. Arrange your eggshells in the carton. Using a spoon, fill each “pot” with pre-moistened seed-starting soil.
  3. Place a couple of seeds in each pot according to your seed-sowing instructions. Leave the carton in a sunny south-facing window.
  4. Lightly mist the soil with a spray bottle every couple of days as needed. Since there are no drainage holes, take care not to overwater. A fine mist is all that’s needed for young seedlings. When your seedlings have emerged, snip the weakest or smallest ones to allow the largest seedling room to grow.
  5. After your seedling has developed its first set of true leaves, you can transplant it into a larger pot or directly in your garden. Gently crush the shell and remove a few shards around the bottom. You can plant the whole thing this way, and the eggshell will decompose in the soil, feeding extra nutrients to your seedling.

Egg Cartons

What You Need-

  • Recycled egg carton
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

How to Make-

  1. Fill your individual egg cups about half full with the soil/grounds mixture. Keep the recommended planting depth in mind. You should be able to find this information on your seed packets. Some seeds will need to be planted deeper, so add less soil during this step for those seeds.
  2. Add the seeds. Be sure not to add too many seeds to each egg cup. Overcrowded seedlings will often die off. For larger plants like squash, I plant only one or two seeds per cup. For smaller plants like cilantro and parsley, I plant about four or five seeds per cup. Remember that not every single seed will actually sprout, but that sprouted seeds will need room to grow and soil resources for nutrients.
  3. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the soil/grounds mixture. Once again, you’ll need to keep the recommended depth in mind. Some seeds like more cover than others.
  4. Place the seed cups in a waterproof container. I use (and re-use) a disposable plastic dinner plate.
  5. Water your seed cups. Since your cups are in a waterproof container, you can simply pour water into the container. I pour water directly into the plastic plate rather than over the individual seed cups. The paper cups will soak up the water and keep your seeds moist. I maintain about a centimeter of water in the bottom of the plate at all times.
  6. Place your seed cups in the sun. Different plants have different sunlight requirements—your plants’ seed packets should give you the particulars—but all plants need sunlight to grow. Be sure that your seed cups are in a place where they can get enough sun.
  7. Water your cups regularly. Enjoy watching your seeds sprout and grow!

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Newspaper Pots

What You Need-

  • Recycled newspaper
  • Water
  • Empty cans
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

How to Make-

  1. Immerse rectangles of newspaper (cut to fit around a small jar) in a pan of water to soften. Roll paper around a jar that’s your desired pot size, extending one edge below the bottom of the jar.
  2. Crimp and press paper around the bottom of the jar to form a base; press on a flat surface to reinforce. Carefully slide the paper pot off the jar and set it aside to dry overnight
  3. Stand pots upright in a watertight pan
  4. Fill pots with moistened soilless seed-starting mix. Plant seeds according to directions on the packet. Cover seeds with vermiculite; sprinkle with water. Label pots with seed type.
  5. Cover pots with plastic wrap to retain moisture.
  6. Set filled pan on a heating pad until seeds sprout, then remove plastic wrap. Place pots under grow lights for 14-16 hours per day.

Yogurt Containers

Individual-sized yogurt containers are the perfect size for frugal seed starting pots.

What You Need-

  • Empty & Cleaned Yogurt Containers
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

How to Make-

  1. I like to use the ones that have a clear plastic domed top, such as these YoCrunch containers with M&Ms. They will hold some of the larger seedlings and the domed top acts as a mini terrarium before the seedlings sprout. Just remove it after they start growing.  
  2. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the container before you add the soil for drainage.

Cupcake Liners

What You Need-

  • Recyclable tin muffin pan
  • Muffin paper liners
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

How to Make-

  1.  Plant the seedlings in the pan cups lined with paper liners.
  2. When the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, plant them along with the paper cupcake liners in your garden.

Seed Starting Trays

Now, this one isn’t exactly cheap from the start but with a little investment upfront and proper care you will have seed starting trays for a couple of years. 

We bought this 5 Set Garden Propagator Set with 200-Cell. Our plan is to start the seeds and transplant them to a bigger container if needed. We went with these because of the number of cells for the price and the size of the trays. 

We don’t have a whole lot of room inside for seed starting so we needed something that would hold a lot but not a lot of space.

What You Need-

So don’t let the cost of seed starting pots deter you from starting seeds this year.  These 7 Cheap Seed Starting Pots will have your plants off to a great start. 

If you are looking to start tomatoes this year be sure to check out Start a Tomato Garden.