Monday, September 19, 2011

Recycling, Reusing, and Repurposing Plastic Nursery Pots

Over 2 million pounds of nursery pots are made for the garden industry each year and many of them are not recycled. Why? Because in order to grow healthy new plants inside, they have to be sterile, and sterilizing them is expensive for garden centers. However, there are many ways that you can reuse and repurpose these plastic pots and keep them out of the landfill.

I had both kids convinced that cleaning the pots would be great fun...

...until this one found something more interesting.

Ideas for recycling, reusing, and repurposing plastic nursery pots:

1. Bring them back to your garden center. Check first to see if they will take them back for recycling. Many won't. If they do, they probably require you to clean them first.

2. Divide your perennials and use the pots to share them in.

3. Place a ball of twine inside, and insert the end through one of the holes in the bottom. No more tangles!

4. Use them for Hypertufa pot molds

5. Take them to the beach, they make great sandcastle forms!

6. Use one as a basket to collect your garden bounty. The holes make for great drainage, so you can wash them in there too.

7. Use plastic cell packs to start your seeds for next year.

8. Offer them up on Freecycle.

9. Bury in soil to create a sub-irrigation system for raised beds and planters. I love this idea!

10. Grow potatoes!

How do you resuse your nursery pots?


  1. We do reuse a lot of them to share extra plants or root cuttings. Bu the extras, we rinse, much as you did and put them in our recycling bin. We actually do it (clean them) in the wheelbarrow so we don't have to bend over so much -- you learn tricks like that when you get old LOL. Great lessons you are teaching your children about preserving the planet.

  2. Great ideas. I own a plant nursery and take back and reuse all the pots that I sell and pots from other nurseries. My township's recycling program takes any that are the wrong size and washing is not required. I believe they have a 2 on the bottom.

  3. This is a great post. Most places here do not take them, but I finally found one that does! For some reason, they seem to multiply!

  4. Thanks Cathy and Steve! The wheelbarrow is a great idea!

    Carolyn, I wish you were closer so I could visit your nursery!

    Thanks HolleyGarden. Hey, I've been trying to comment on your blog, but you don't have a Name/URL option, and I don't have any of the other accounts. I really like your blog and read each new post!

  5. Tina, I started a nursery 2 years ago, so we're running around collecting these things :D But I love your ideas for recycling. tufa is SO much fun. Havent found the perfect recipe, but the straight concrete ones are holding up well. Have you done much tufa? would love to know what recipes are working. I have a great local source for perlite if you need it. ($12 for huge 4cuft plus no shipping cuz you can drive there!)

    Sub Irrigation in raised beds? oh no, I think youve unleased a monster. I have a love/hate relationship with watering and were forEVER working on our perfect irrigation system. I think I may have just conquered indoor watering of seed flats, by copying a burpee raised self watering tray with wood blocks, plywood and newspaper. So far Its working! and im documenting with video. I havent started seeds yet, so the experiment continues.