How to Use Toilet Paper Rolls for Seed Starting

Start saving your rolls

Gardener sowing carrot seed in recycled carboard tubes, April
Gary K Smith/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Whether you are an avid gardener or just starting out, you may want to avoid using peat pots and pellets to grow your seedlings. There are concerns over the environmental impact that commercial harvesting has on peat bogs. The selling point of peat pots and pellets is the fact that you plant your seedlings in the pot and the pot decomposes in the soil over time. It's an easy way to seed, but it does cost a little money upfront. You can get this convenience without resorting to peat pots by using a more environmentally friendly method that recycles an everyday household item. Find out how to use toilet paper rolls to improve the seeding process. 

Depending on how many seeds you're starting, you will need a few toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. It's wise to begin saving the rolls prior to planting season so you have a good supply on hand.

How to Use Toilet Paper Rolls to Start Seeds

Here are the things you need to create toilet paper or paper towel seed pods:

  • Cardboard toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper rolls
  • Scissors
  • Tray, plate, or bowl to put seed pots on
  • Twine
  • Seed starting medium
  • Seeds

Once you gather the materials, it is relatively easy to get going. Here are a few tips on how to use toilet paper rolls to house seedlings:

  1. Make a series of 1 to 1.5-inch cuts around one end of the roll, approximately a half an inch apart.
  2. Fold the cut sections in toward the center of the roll. This will create the bottom of your pot.
  3. Place the seed pots on a tray, plate, or bowl. If they seem to not be standing up well on their own, you can support them a bit by tying some twine around the whole group of pots. You can also reinforce the folds of the cardboard for more sturdiness. 
  4. Fill the pots with soil, moisten the soil, and pot and plant your seeds. Maintain the planted seeds as you would any seeds sown indoors. Typically, you will have to wait a few weeks before you can remove the plants and embed them into the garden.
  5. You may want to acclimate the plants to the garden before putting the pods (or just the plants in the pods) into the ground. To do this, take your tray or seeding bin out to the garden for a few hours each day. This can ease the stress on plants that sometimes occurs during the transplantation process. 
  6. Plant the toilet paper seed pods in the garden, cardboard tube and all. If the cardboard is sticking up above the soil's surface, simply tear off any excess. If you don't, it will wick moisture away from the roots. You can also cut off the bottom and just plant the tube of dirt that was sitting in the toilet paper pod. The cardboard will biodegrade and hopefully, the plants will thrive.