6 Ingenious Ways to Reuse Plant Pots

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Using an old plastic pot as a planting guide

The common or garden plant pot: fill it with potting compost, sow or plant into it, and when you're done - throw it away. But not so fast! Here are six of our favourite ways to reuse plant pots...

1. Make a Plant Halo

Tomato plants are thirsty plants. They need regular watering, which can lead to the soil becoming compacted and water running off before it’s had a chance to be absorbed. The solution? Make your own water reservoir ‘halos’.

Simply take an old plastic pot and cut off the bottom with a sharp knife or scissors. You now have your halo.

Plant halo water reservoir for a tomato plants

Push it halfway into the soil, then plant your tomato plant. Now when you water your tomatoes the walls of the pot will contain the water and allow it to gradually soak into the soil.

You can add more potting compost or high quality garden compost into the halo at planting time, leaving enough space to water into it. This encourages roots to grow from the buried part of the stem, which will provide more support and nutrients for the plant. This also works for some other crops in the same family, such as peppers.

You can also reuse old plastic pots to help water other thirsty plants such as squash. In this case there’s no need to cut off the bottom. Just dig a hole next to the plant for your pot reservoir. Bury the pot almost up to the rim, then fill with water. The water will gradually seep out into the root zone of the plant, right where it’s needed.

Watering squash roots using an old plastic plant pot

2. Use a Pot as a Planting Guide

Need to pot on a plant into a larger container? Then use an empty pot as a planting guide.

Add some potting compost to the new container. Place an empty pot the same size as the original one into the middle of the container then continue to fill around it. Remove the pot to leave a ready-made hole. Take your plant out of its old pot, tease out the roots if necessary, then plant into position. Firm it in and water it.

Bug hotel made from an old plastic pot and bamboo canes

3. Build a Bug Hotel

Beneficial bugs such as bees and lacewings are a boon to the gardener because they pollinate our crops and eat pests. Encourage them to stick around by making a home for them out of an old pot.

Stuff the pot with a selection of bamboo cane pieces, hollow stems, twigs or corrugated cardboard then perch the hotel on its side in a sheltered position. Or, attach a hook to the pot and hang it from a branch.

Garden twine dispenser made from an old plastic pot

4. Make a Twine Dispenser

Garden twine is very handy around the garden – but the trouble is, it’s always getting tangled up!

This idea is simple yet ingenious. Pop your ball of twine into a pot then feed the end through one of the drainage holes. Stretch duct tape over the top of the pot to stop the spool falling out. You now have a ready-to-use twine dispenser. Just pull from the bottom and cut off what you need.

Plastic pot upcycled into a decorative plant pot

5. Get Crafty

Thoroughly scrub old pots clean then leave them to dry. They’re now ready to paint or decorate.

You can paint pots using non-toxic paints to prevent tainting any crops you plan to grow in them, or add textures by gluing on materials such as burlap or hessian, rope, or cloth. You can theme your pots to suit your taste. Add shells, beads or even mosaic pieces to create a snazzy pot that’s unique to you.

Using an old pot as a harvesting trug

6. Use a Pot as a Harvesting Trug

Large pots make a handy container for harvesting vegetables. The drainage holes at the base of the pot allow for quick and easy cleaning of your fresh produce. Just place the vegetables into the container then blast them with a jet of water to loosen and remove engrained dirt. They’re now ready for the kitchen.

Pots have a multitude of uses beyond the obvious. If you have any more ideas, let us know about it by dropping us a comment below.

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Show Comments


"Your planting-harvest guide is fantastic Great ideas with old pots, Benedict. Please advise if you are planning 101 ideas with cardboard boxes - on delivery day at the local supermarket I collect the sizes I need which saves them crushing time and saves rubbish transport and infill. I use them extensively in the garden and chook pens. I use small cardboard boxes to protect tomatoes from hot drying winds, many days over 40C here - base flaps opened out to stop weeds and reduce evaporation, top flaps folded in to strengthen box, tossed in compost after planting seedlings - plants stronger and yielded more and longer than those fighting the elements alone even though they were not on the fringes of the garden. "
Robin Campbell on Friday 17 June 2016
"so, you are indicating that used pots are NOT to be used to replant things in?"
linda spodick on Friday 17 June 2016
"So you are telling us that it is not advisable to reuse a pot for planting a new plant or seed?"
linda spodick on Friday 17 June 2016
"Hi Robin. Some brilliant ideas with cardboard there! Thanks for sharing these. We may well look at doing a video on the topic in due course."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 20 June 2016
"Hi Linda. Pots can obviously be used to replant and re-sow into. It is advisable however to make sure the pots are thoroughly washed before reusing. This way any lurking bugs or diseases will be removed."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 20 June 2016
"I have bought roses in plastic pots. [large} What do you think about cutting 3-4 inches from bottom of -plastic pots, open up the roots, then planting the pot 6 inches deep. Thought it would be easier for watering and also help to keep weeds and bugs away, for this 81 years old body. LOL. THANKS "
Doriss on Sunday 4 August 2019
"Hello Doriss. I think that is a perfectly good idea. If you leave a little of the rim of the pot standing proud of the soil level, so that the soil level in the pot matches the ground level, then that part of the pot should act as a bit of a reservoir to water into. An alternative is to remove the pot and plant as normal, and then to create a reservoir around the rose by simply banking the soil up into a ring around it."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 August 2019
"Enjoy your videos. I need to add 6 months as I'm in Tasmania"
Noel on Monday 26 September 2022

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