How To Make TP Roll Seed Pots

February 23rd, 2010 - filed under: The Farm » Flora


Guys! Spring is almost here! In Portland I dare say it’s even come early, bringing the daffodils springing from every sidewalk crack and kissing the tree tops in blush pink buds. It’s intoxicating!

And it also means we’re coming up quick on planting season. Even if you’re not seeing it out your own front window, I assure you it’s coming . . . and soon!

Last year I offered a green alternative to plastic seed pots, with a recycled newspaper version. This year I present a new twist on the same concept – this time using your spent toilet paper rolls!

And once again, it’s just so easy. Like so:


Begin with your TP roll. You’ll need one per plant.


Cut! You’ll want a series of cuts around one edge, maybe 1.5 inches apiece. I did 5-6 cuts per roll.


It’ll look like this.


Fold down the tabs to make a nice flat bottom. No need to fasten or anything fancy – it should stay put on it’s own. Fill with potting soil and proceed with starting your seeds as normal.


When you’re ready to transplant, just unfold the bottom tabs and then cut the cardboard away. So start collecting those TP rolls! (and don’t forget to recycle or compost them once you’re done)

Don’t you love how the green DIY method is also always the most efficient, most practical method? I love that!!

  • Tenise Rae

    I don’t think I’ll ever throw another tube away again. This is a sweet idea!!

  • Ashley Ladd

    That’s brilliant! We switched to family cloth last year though, so no leftover rolls in this house.. Maybe I can get some from the neighbors, but I may have to do too much explaining.. haha

  • Kathryn

    …and they’ll look so cute all lined up while they’re sprouting!
    Three cheers for easy and resourceful gardening!

  • Squiggle

    Toilet roll insides…so many uses! I have snakes and use them as up-cycled (and later compostible) houses and hides too. I’m going to have to start asking the neighbours too!

  • April

    We live in Michigan, where we are eeply buried in snow. A midwinter project, such as this’ is just what I need to get me through until spring :)

    By the way, what are you sprouting?

  • April


    whoops :)

  • Heather

    SO.COOL. thanks!! I just may link this to my facebook page ;)
    Also, this is perfect timing, because I’m trying to get a church community garden started through my church, and the more people I can get started early the better. This is a great way to get them to start their veggies!

  • Lauren

    thanks for posting this! it’s so cool and seems so easy! now i just need to get my seeds going.

  • hales

    absolutely LOVE THIS!!!

  • Kelly

    Now that is just super cute and awesome!

  • gingersnap

    I tried this method a couple years ago and found that the cardboard did not break down sufficiently in the ground, so I wound up with stunted little plants after a certain point. I’d still recommend using the TP rolls with one modification: when you’re ready to transplant, just slice down each roll with scissors, peel away the cardboard (you can compost it–it will break down in a nice, hot compost pile), and plant each seedling in its little naked cylinder of dirt.

    Hope that’s helpful!

  • emily

    i’m w/ gingersnap. last year i tried using egg cartons for seedlings. worked great until i put them in the ground! the roots weren’t able to penetrate the paper. i ended up having to dig them up, and remove the cartons which was a chore b/c the little roots were digging into it. the plants did fairly well from there, until the southern texas drought hit…

  • Valerie

    I was wondering about the glue residue on TP rolls. Couldn’t it harm the plants? I think gingersnap has a good alternative. Just unhinge the bottom and the plants just might slide out the bottom into the ground. That’s what I thought you you were going to say.

  • Tenise Rae

    I’m still determined to make this tp roll thing work. What if you unhinged the bottom and maybe cut down the side a bit? Then the roots could get out and down. By the time the plant is big enough the tp roll might be soft enough for the roots to get through???
    I don’t have a compost pile going yet. So I really wouldn’t know what to do with the little rolls after they were removed. :-\
    Oh yeah…and Valerie…depending on what brand of tp you get…some don’t even use glue. It appears, to me, that the brand Sayward has might just be that kind of brand. However, mine definitely has a little strip of glue. :( I’m hoping it’s water soluble and not filled with chemicals. I keep thinking Elmers Glue…, works and water soluble?? I gotta research this now. Hehehe….

  • Farmingtheburbs

    Why didn’t I know about this sooner, I would have been saving and saving for this coming season. Thanks. :-)

  • EroSan

    @Valerie… Most toilet paper tubes are made with a spiral of cardboard… so I guess you could just “peel” the cardboard…

    also: offtopic, but I just found this totally unrelated thing to do with the extra tp tubes and it totally kicks ass:

  • Laura Burris

    OMG Thank you so much for this. We were having such a problem finding pots to plant seedlings in.

  • Sayward

    I know guys, aren’t they adorable?? And totally easy and practical. So glad so many of you plan to try them out!

    And thanks to those who’ve done this before. I think you’re right and I’ll amend the original post with instructions to remove the casing before planting. It should be easy enough.

    About the glue, I don’t think it would be an issue, but removing the tub before you transfer them into the ground will definitely avoid any problem. =)

    @ April – That little sprout just popped up in one of my houseplants, so I used him for artistic purposes. =) It’s just about time to get the seeds going here, so I don’t have any actual veggie sprouts yet. But I will be [hopefully!] planting tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, and a wide variety of herbs. Wish me luck!

    @ EroSan – That art is fantastic!

  • Minna

    They are sooo cute! And will be perfect for the Easter!

    I hope next Spring I’ll be able to start my first very own gardening project. The blossoming Spring sounds so lovely, but I know back home in Estonia it’s the snowiest winter in ages (only the 1924 record hasn’t been beaten yet), can’t believe I’m not there to see that fairy tale!

    Also, this TP roll art is crazy, I like it so much! I will definitely try that.

  • Lily

    What a great idea! Thanks Sayward, I will try it. :)

  • Courtney

    That is so absolutely awesome! I wish I had somewhere to plant things. Living in our friend’s basement doesn’t leave much space for even potted things. But I’m definately going to remember this when we get our own place!

  • Shelby

    In terms of seeds, I’ve become very interested in heirlooms and native plants. So far the only place I’ve found heirlooms at was Seeds Of Change, and the native plants I had to do some digging around on the internet for. I work at a kennel with a bunch of empty planters, so I cross-referenced my list of native plants with a list of dog-safe plants so we can have a pretty and safe place for dogs! I can’t wait to get started on this idea, I don’t have any newspaper here so this is great! Any thoughts on natives/heirlooms guys?

  • Kaye

    This is cute! I’d love to start some sort of garden with this idea, although I don’t have any gardening space outside at all… (I’m renting a room in a house right now, and they don’t have any kind of garden here, just grass) I wonder if it would be possible to rig this up as a mini indoor garden?

  • Tricia

    Brilliant idea! I use toilet rolls as pots for seedlings – but never thought to fold over the bottom. Thank you!

  • Sayward

    @ Shelby – I think natives are totally the way to go for landscaping-type situations. That just makes good sense. =) But for food I think non-native species are fine, because the more diversity you grow, the less you’ll buy from the store (flown in from around the world). But I always make sure to get organic, ideally heirloom, seeds. I LOVE heirloom varieties. There’s something so special, almost magical, about them!

    @ Kaye – Indoor gardening is totally possible! Check out my article on container gardening for some ideas, plus my article on starting seeds indoors will help you get set up. Basically you just need a sunny windowsill, or in lieu of that, a nice bright full-spectrum bulb.

  • Mama Monique

    Hey hello there!

    Don’t know exactly how I got here, but LOVE this blog! Long time I am searching a way to re use these things. What a great idea!

    Do you mind me using this blog on my weblog? Really love to share this with my readers.

    Love from Holland,

    Mama Monique

    P.S. Hope you don’t mind I linked you?

  • Sayward

    @ Mama Monique – I don’t mind at all, as long as you credit me. Thanks! And I’m so glad you like the site – hope to see you around! =)

  • Mama Monique

    Thanks you! And yes.. I will! ;o)

  • Macaron

    Thank you so much for this great idea ! I have been looking for a green alternative to plastic for weeks now. Thanks again from Northern France.

  • Sayward

    @ Macaron – Yay, hello to Northern France!

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  • Mary

    Hello from Western Canada :-) Being physically disabled for only couple of years I was missing my gardening terribly! It hasn’t really been long enough for me to do a lot of research. I knew I could do raised beds, or container gardening BUT the $ factor on disability crushed many of my ideas. THIS plus numerous other ideas such as seeds on eBay cost me an average of $1 a package and a $2.50 shippingfee, BUT you only pay that shipping fee once for many sellers, the rest of the seeds from that seller are free shipping or some have a minimal 10 cent fee per package when you buy them all at the same time. That cut my seed cost WAY down PLUS with many seeds you get far more than you can use, so just split the $1 per package cost with a Friend and the cost is EXTREMELY cheap. These TP rolls are great! Don’t forget to cut down your rolls in your paper towel etc too! Thank you so much for all the help! Mary

  • Sayward

    @ Mary – What a great comment, I’m so glad I could help. Thanks for the tips, and luck with the garden! =D

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  • Kemosabi

    Thanks for the info, tried using TP rolls by cutting in half, filling the tray with the half rolls and then sprinkling the soil over them to fill. MESSY! I like your idea and will try it soon. Thanks again Kemosabi

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  • Doreen Henderson Bradimore

    I love this idea I am a cub scout leader and with earth day coming up this might be a great activity to add to our upcoming meeting thanks

  • Jane Abernathy

    lov lov lov, I have been saving mine to donate to the local Monadnock Humane Society beause the dogs love to chase them and play with them, but I am going to use some of them now for this idea~! Thanks so much.

  • Dave Chickenman

    ive used egg cartons a bunch of times too! they dont stay together quite as good as the toilet paper tubes would. im not sure you really have to go so far with your design. if you use a flat tray like a pie pan or something you just flatten the tube,cut it in half and then stuff it with potting soil! you can water them by putting the water in the tray. you can start a whole bunch of plants at once. you can make them up in the middle of winter and have them ready to go.

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