How to Make Seedling Pots from Cardboard Tubes
Recycle Cardboard Tubes to Make Seed Pots
Save Money in the Garden
In late winter, home improvement stores fill their gardening aisles with materials to start seedlings indoors. Seedling pots (also called seed pellets or peat pots) are wonderful for starting seeds before the prime growing season. These little pellets are not very expensive, but the need for many packages will increase the cost of getting a head start in the garden.
Save money and the environment by using leftover cardboard tubes as seedling pots. Turning a cardboard tube into a pot is an extremely easy task, and prevents cardboard from toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes from ending up in the landfill.
Some plants do not cope well with transplantation (watermelon, e.g.), but the use of these tiny containers helps eliminate transplant stress. As the seedlings do not have to be removed from the biodegradable cardboard before planting, the tiny seedling may avoid the shock of being planted in the garden. Use a soil appropriate to the plant type - many seeds prefer to grow in peat moss, which helps to develop a healthy root system.
Creating the Seed PotsClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Make Seedling Pots
The only materials needed for seedling pots are cardboard tubes and a pair of scissors. Cardboard tubes may be obtained from toilet paper rolls, paper towels, or wrapping paper. If a longer tube is used, it will need to be cut into 4"-6" lengths for use as seed pots.
- Flatten the cardboard tube with your hand. Open the tube and flatten the tube in the other direction, to form a square shape. This step may be omitted, as the pots may be round.The flaps are easier to fold in if the pots have sides.
- Use a pair of scissors and cut the tube 1/4 of the way up the side at each corner. This will create four flaps.
- Tuck each flap completely into the tube, so that the flaps rest along the inside walls of the tube.
- Reach inside the tube and gently push the flaps down until they are overlapping. This will form the bottom of the seedling pot.
- Add the desired substrate (potting soil or peat moss).
- Plant your seed or seedling into the tube.
- Transplant the seed pot into the garden. There is no need to remove the seedling from the cardboard pot, as the pot will biodegrade over time.
What is "Hardening Off?"
Hardening off is acclimating sheltered seedlings to a less frequent watering cycle, strong sun, and cooler temperatures.
Advantages of Starting Seeds in Pots
Gardeners living in cold weather zones appreciate getting a jump on the growing season. Many people in the northern hemisphere cannot plant seedlings outside until after Memorial Day, which means flowers and vegetables may start to bloom or produce fruit just before the first frost!
The use of seed pots allows gardeners to plant seedlings indoors in February or March, and transplant developed seedlings directly into the ground at the end of May. These plants already have a healthy, developed root system.
Transplanted seedlings should be "hardened off" for the first week or so in the great outdoors. As these plants have been sheltered from temperature changes,
Grow Seeds Indoors
Grow lights provide the right amount of light for young plants. These lights are great for houseplants and for young seedlings.
How to Harden Off Seedlings
Plants grown indoors are not used to environmental changes in temperature or strong sunlight. On the first mild day of spring, take the seedlings out for a few hours to expose them to the sun. During the first week of hardening off, water less frequently to allow the plants to get used to the amount of moisture they will receive in the garden.
After a week or so, begin placing the seedlings outside full-time, but bring them in when the temperature drops. A cold frame may be necessary for chilly days. Do not plant the seedlings into the garden until the nighttime temperatures are consistently above freezing. Some tender plants may require nighttime temperatures to remain above 60°F before transplant.
Once the seedlings are transplanted into the garden, use a mild NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) fertilizer to encourage growth and to prevent the plants from wilting. Some seedlings may experience transplant shock, and the use of fertilizer and the hardening off process will help avoid plant injury or death.