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You can use a pot-making tool to produce hundreds of seedling pots. Source: www.leevalley.com

If you’re still reading the paper edition of the local newspaper or if you regularly receive ads on newsprint in your mailbox, you can make pots for seed starting for next to nothing.

There is even a tool—called a Potmaker, Pot Maker or Paper Potter, depending on the manufacturer—designed specifically for this purpose. Here’s how it works:

This video by Lee Valley Tools shows how to use a Potmaker.

Simply cut a sheet of newspaper into strips of about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in width and wrap a strip around the mold, letting part hang over the bottom. The paper should fit fairly tightly, but not so much it will be hard to remove afterwards. Next, fold the excess paper at the bottom over the base of the mold, then firmly press it into the mold base, turning left and right. Remove the paper pot from the mold … and that’s it! You have a perfect little pot for your seedlings: all that remains to do is to fill it with sowing mix!

This is not a tool I’ve been seeing in local garden centers, but you’ll find it readily on the Internet, notably at Lee Valley Tools in Canada and the United States and on amazon.com in Europe.

You Don’t Have a Potmaker?

You don’t have a manufactured pot-making tool or you find it too expensive?

(But think the latter over. You get a very quick return on your investment: after just one year of use, the average gardener who sows seeds indoors will have saved more than the price of the tool on plastic and peat pots they didn’t have to buy.)

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Wine bottle used as a pot maker. Source: www.instructables.com

You can make paper pots using household objects as a mold. A wine bottle (one with a depressed base would be especially interesting), a can or any other cylindrical object of appropriate width will do. Just wrap the strip of newspaper around the base of your tool and fold it in at the bottom, pressing firmly. These pots are not as solid as those made using a pot-making tool and you may need to use a bit of Scotch tape to keep them from unraveling.

No, Newspaper is Not Toxic!

Do I even need to mention that today’s newsprint does not contain toxic ink, not even the color pages? That’s one of those horticultural myths that will not die! Yes, you can use newspaper in organic gardening. In fact, it’s probably the very best way to recycle it!


There you go! Biodegradable pots that are essentially free, are highly useful for seedlings and even recycle paper in an environmentally friendly way … and you made them yourself!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “How to Make Your Own Paper Pots

  1. Pingback: Sowing Seeds in Eggshells: Not Such a Great Idea – Laidback Gardener

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