Colleen Vanderlinden


The last few years, I've started most of my garden plants from seed or gotten divisions from friends and family. But there are always fantastic nursery clearance deals to be found, and I invariably end up with a bunch of those plastic nursery pots in my garden shed. Plastic nursery pots are a big green problem because many municipalities (including mine, which actually has a fairly ambitious recycling program) won't recycle them. Plastic nursery pots are usually made from recycled plastic, and there's often no telling which types of plastic went into them, so facilities don't often take them back to recycle.

If you're lucky to have a nursery nearby that accepts the pots to reuse themselves, that's a great option. I have one in my area, but it's a bit of a drive, so I try to find ways to reuse the ones I have. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for you.

25 Ways to Reuse Nursery Pots

1. Use them to pot up divisions of your perennials to give to friends and family.

2. Use them to store your gardening tools, such as trowels, cultivators, gloves, and pruners.

3. Make a twine dispenser.

4. Use the plastic cell packs to start your own plants from seed next spring.

5. Use them, overturned, in the bottom of a large container to use less potting soil and make the container lighter.

6. Let your kids use them in the sandbox.

7. Bring them to the beach to make sandcastles. 8. Place overturned nursery pots over tender plants to protect them from late or early season frosts. 9. Nail or screw them to the wall of your shed or garage to hold tools, plant labels, gloves, or other supplies. 10. Let your kids use them as drums. 11. Carry a large one around with you when you are weeding your garden. Dump the weeds into the compost. 12. Use one to harvest veggies from your garden, then give them a quick rinse right in the pot. The water will drain from the holes in the bottom 13. Plant them up, and use them inside larger, more attractive containers to group plants together and change the display whenever you want. 14. Turn one on its side, partially bury it in the ground, and you have a toad house. 15. Propagate plants through layering by filling a nursery pot with soil, bending a stem of the plant you want to propagate into the pot, and letting it root. Sever it from the main plant once roots have formed, and you have a new plant, for free. 16. Offer them on Freecycle. 17. Use plastic cell packs to store and organize small items, such as holiday ornaments, costume jewelry, hair barrettes and ponytail holders, or office supplies. 18. Use a two-gallon or larger pot to make an upside-down tomato planter. You can paint it or cover it with oilcloth to make it look nicer. 19. Use two sturdy pots (some are stronger than others) to make a set of stilts for kids. Drill two holes in each (on opposite sides of the pot), run rope or twine through that is long enough for your child to hold while walking on the stilts, and tie it inside the pot. Let them go to town painting or adding stickers to the pot. 20. Use one to putt golf balls into. 21. Use them to sift compost onto newly-seeded garden beds or lawns. 22. Use one in the kitchen to contain kitchen scraps for composting. Empty it into the compost pile at the end of each cooking session. 23. Make a small water feature by patching over the holes in a large pot (the size many trees come in, which is usually between five and ten gallons), burying it in the ground so that the lip of the pot is level with the top of the soil, filling it with water, and adding a couple of water lilies or water hyacinths. 24. Use the pots, overturned, to lift prettier pots when you have several plants grouped together. 25. Nail them, open end out, to the side of a garage, shed, or fence to create a nesting box. Robins, sparrows, and mourning doves will make nests in just about any secure, sheltered area. So, even if your town doesn't accept those nursery pots for recycling, they don't have to sit there cluttering up your garage anymore. Get them out and use them for something!