Repurposing Recyclables as Plant Containers

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Frugality is something that strikes us every now and again, particularly around the holidays when we have so many gifts to buy and so little time to make the money we’re going to need to pay for them. Or perhaps you find yourself suffering from a familiar gardening dilemma. You know the one where you bought all sorts of cool plants only to realize that you forgot to buy containers and now you’re out of money? Fear not! The solution to either scenario is to repurpose your recyclables into plant containers. Here’s how.

Repurposing Recyclables Supplies

Choose your recyclables wisely.

You will need:

You want ones that are big enough to hold at least a small plant and the potting soil that it needs to live in. If you luck out you may find ones that are big enough to hold several plants. Tin or aluminum cans, old soda bottles, milk jugs, and other empty containers will work. Look for things made out of metal or food grade plastic.

Hole Making Device
This can be a hammer and nail, an ice pick, a sharp knife, or a drill. Just use whatever you have on hand and feel comfortable using.

Feel free to use something other than pansies. They’re simply what I had on hand since the nearby Lowes had six packs on sale for $1 apiece.

Potting Soil
You don’t want to get gardening soil by mistake because it’s not the same thing. Read the labels carefully. It’s also a good idea to pay out a little extra for mid-range potting soil. The cheap stuff just doesn’t do the trick unless you add lots of amendments. But if you feel like splashing out for the more expensive Miracle Grow, feel free to go for it.

Fertilizer and/or Mulch
These are nice to have but not 100% necessary, especially if you buy good quality potting soil.

Basic Steps

1. Clean the selected recyclables with soap and hot water to make sure there’s no food particles, mold, or other harmful materials left on them.

2. Let them dry.

3. Carefully poke drainage slots in the bottom of the containers in question. Just be careful to put holes
in the item in question and not yourself.

Step 3.

4. Fill the containers with potting soil, leaving enough room for the plants.

5. Take the plants out of their packaging. Gently squeeze the roots a few times so that the plants don’t become root bound later on.

6. Arrange the plants in their new homes so that they sit just below the rim of the container in question.

7. Fill the container with enough dirt to stabilize the plant or plants within.

8. Water them until liquid comes out the bottom. Add extra dirt as needed.

9. Place the plants where you want them to grow. Keep in mind that metal containers are going to absorb the heat from the sun and probably don’t need to be kept in a sunny place.

10. Add fertilizer and/or mulch if you would like.

All that’s left to do is enjoy your creations. Just don’t forget to water them on a regular basis if it doesn’t rain or the weather is especially sunny.

The completed project.

This is certainly not a full and complete listing of the recyclables that you can use to make cheap plant containers. Plastic drink cups will work for this purpose too. I just vetoed them because I thought they looked rather tacky. However, I do like the look of glass bottles that have been repurposed into plant pots. If you have a glass cutter and darkly tinted beer or wine bottles in your recycling stack, you can use these to make thrifty plant containers as well. You can even use totally clear bottles, but these will need to be wrapped with a dark cover of some sort to keep the sun from damaging tender roots.

When it comes to deciding which recyclables to repurpose, you’ll want to keep in mind where the plants are going to go and what sort of environment they normally like. For instance, metal absorbs heat easily. It’s a good choice for plants that enjoy the sun such as succulents or perhaps tropical plants that are struggling to survive in cold areas. However, species that flourish in cool, moist environments such as pansies will probably drop dead at the first signs of a heat wave. So plan accordingly if you want to avoid plant carnage.

As always, good luck and happy gardening!

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About Lauren

Lauren Purcell is a freelance writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is the proud owner of two spoiled little dogs. Her hobbies include gardening (in case you hadn't noticed), cooking, traveling when she has money, and waiting on her key lime tree to produce fruit.

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