Garden Planting Pots Get a New Lease on Life

If you’re a gardener, you tend to amass garden pots.  They’re a bit like coat hangers or stray socks: they have a way of multiplying when your not looking.  Occasionally I’ve had luck returning the thin plastic cell packs to local nurseries, but lately, not so much.  The good news is that more and more pots are recyclable.

If I can’t return or recycle, than I try to re-purpose.

Here are a few ideas.

When planting shallow-rooted annuals in a large planter, use a small, inverted pot in the center to reduce the amount of needed soil.  If the roots aren’t deep, no need to waste your potting mix. Additionally, the inverted pot reduces water and soil runoff while lightening the weight of the pot (see below).

Ready to pot cyclamen

Ready to pot Cyclamen

Inverted Pot

Inverted Pot

Potted Cyclamen

Potted Cyclamen

Sometimes the spare pot is pretty, deserving a new lease on life.  I received this shiny gem with a bulb one Christmas.  After transplanting the bulb outside, I re-used the pot near our garden fountain. I keep a small scrub brush in the pot for a quick fountain clean-up. In the summer months I add a pair of shears so they are always on hand.

Shiny pot with brush

Shiny pot with brush

When I cover our patio set for the winter, I use a large, sturdy plastic pot to elevate the cover’s center. It keeps the rain from pooling and aids with run off.

Patio Furniture cover

Patio furniture cover

I grow cat grass for my sister’s kitty in a couple of small plastic pots. As soon as I give her a pot of grass, I start a new one. When her batch of grass dies off, she returns the pot and we start again. We’ve been passing the same few pots back and forth for months.

KT Eating Kitty Greens

KT Eating Kitty Greens

Other Practical Uses

Small pots are great for starting plant cuttings or seedlings indoors. Larger pots are great for sharing divided plants. If you have broken clay or ceramic pots, break them carefully into small pieces and use them to cover the hole in a large pot.

Let your imagination be your guide.

What creative ways have you reused a garden pot?

7 thoughts on “Garden Planting Pots Get a New Lease on Life

  1. Love your Cyclamens, so pretty. How awesome that you can have them outside. I’ve also used some of your tips for spare pots but generally wash well and put them out in the blue bag pick up. I’ve been trying to find Cat Grass seed at a few garden centers with no luck (wrong season). I need to stop at some pet stores maybe. KT is cute!


    • Is the blue bag a recycle service? I’m not familiar with that term. I hope the industry will move more and more toward compost-ready pots. It makes good sense.

      I wonder if you can order cat grass seeds online? Good luck!


      • Oh sorry, yep ‘Blue Bag’ is plastic, paper, cans, styrofoam, glass. (many brands, I buy the Glad ones). On pick up day, one truck picks up the trash and one picks up the recyclables in your ‘Blue Bag’…They don’t do that in San Jose?

        I hope to find some grass seed in a pet store, if not I sill check on line, good idea Alys. The kitty-cats would be so happy 🙂


  2. I usually save them and use them when pricking out seedlings. I’ve also recently put several together, stuffed them with straw and put them in the insect house as the creepy crawlies love to hide in them. I hate plastic… but I also hate waste so thanks for the great tips! I’m definitely going to put a pot under my table cover for Winter now 🙂


    • Hi PJ,

      Great idea using them with straw for your insect house. That is really clever.

      I hate plastic too. Last spring, for the first time, I found a line of vegetable starter plants with entirely compostable pots (Bonnie’s). It makes so much sense. I hope to see more and more of that.


    • Let me know what kitty thinks. One thing I learned from my sister is that KT tips the lightweight pot over. I took a larger bowl and set a heavy pot inside, then sourrounded that with decorative rock. I set the smaller, plastic pot inside it. Then we just remove and replace the lighter weight pot each time.


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