What to do with nursery pots??

Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

I refuse to throw away all these nursery pots, but I need help. My greenhouse is just about full of them and there is no way I can use them all.
Any ideas besides putting them in the trash? I am afraid my DH is about to do just that next time I am travelling!

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

If I was close by, I'd relieve you of that problem. I'm sure there are lots of folks that would like to have them and it's so wasteful to send them to the land fill. You could haul them out to the end of your driveway and put a crude sign on them. Craigslist, freecycle, etc. Schools and youth groups are having fundraising plant sales. Lots of people here on DG sell extra plants at their yard sales, etc.

Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

Putting a sign at the end of the driveway is out of the question: we live in a cul de sac and believe me, if there was a gardener in the proximity, I would sneak up at night and drop some up on their door steps ( forget about zucchini:)!)
I would be willing to drive about 30 minutes and give them away to anybody who can use them!!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

We have one local garden center that has a recycle bin. Perhaps one in your area does as well.

Billerica, MA(Zone 6a)

This message was edited May 30, 2010 12:53 PM

Mount Vernon, OH

some greenhouses reuse their pots. Check around and ask. In this day and economy, some may be glad to have them.

Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks for your tips. Maybe I will try ebay. I had a nursery tell me a couple of year ago that they do not reuse them for fear of contamination.

Mount Vernon, OH

Too bad, if some more greenhouses would reuse maybe there wouldn't be so much in the landfills.

Leola, PA(Zone 6a)

Wow, I wonder if the pots are gone already or not. I have been looking for pots since weeks. I would like to pay the postage if you still want to get rid of them lol. I live like about 1 hour away from you, so shipping shouldn't be a problem.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Can you show us a picture of said pots? Are they square or round, what size? Would you be willing to pack them up and ship if somebody is willing to pay for postage? Are they black or green?

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

You live close enough to Longwood gardens or Winterthur..did you think about calling and asking if they could use them?

Greenville, NC

If you have a master gardener group in your area, I'm sure they could use them. Most MG groups have projects with school kids and senior citizens as well as annual plant sales to raise funds for the various projects.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Are you offering these free? What are the nursery pot sizes? Are they square or round? Are they the type of pots that you buy your starter plants in at a garden center or nursery? Can we have a pic of them? If they are what I think they are, I'd be happy to take at least 25-50 off your hands and will pay the postage for you to mail them to me.

Greenville, NC

Me too!

Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

Siichan expressed an interest in them, and as soon as my son unpacks his big tool box so I can use it to ship them, they are on their way to Leola. They are mostly quart and some gallon size. Free to a good home, shipping cost only. I have way too many!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Leola, Pa. Is that in Lebanon County? Gosh, an hour away..maybe drive there and meet. Maybe you'd have a lot to discuss and share on Wintersowing or flowers in general.

Mount Vernon, OH

glad you found a home for them. Too many are not reused.

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

I have seen them offered at farmer's markets in this area in the spring. As for contamination, a bath in a bit of bleach water is all it takes. I wash my pots, and they do accumulate, every year. They don't need to be scrubbed, just soaked and rinsed.

Shreveport, LA

I was so feed up with all the plastic pots around that I put them all on the curb- they were gone faster than I could walk back into the house. I do live on a main street though. I'm amazed at what people want out of the trash but thankful they take it anyway. Had a new water heater installed and thought what to do with the old one- no problem- put it out on the street and gone in an hour. Doesn't matter if it's broken- they want it.

Greensburg, PA

For those of you looking for nursery pots, please check with your local newspaper delivery people. Those that drive cars for deliveries see pots put out for the garbage or recycling frequently during the spring and can easily pick them up. If you are a subscriber or offer a little incentive, they can keep a look out for you and even deliver when they see them. I had a couple keep a lookout for me last spring for the larger ones and I now have a supply waiting for me to up-pot. You'd be surprised at what an extra $5.00 can do as a tip or reward. . .

I prefer to use nursery pots rather than decorative for much of what I grow because they last a long time and usually have an optimum shape for the roots. You can always decorate the pot.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>Any ideas besides putting them in the trash?

I didn't read the whole thread, and i know this is an older post... but do you have a Free Cycle in your area?

I've gotten extra pots that others didnt want anymore that way.

Too bad i wasn't in your area... i'd snatch'em up. they are great for Winter sowing.

Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

I found a good home for them. I still have plenty to pot up give aways. They were quart size, so a little big for winter sowing in my opinion.
Still got plenty of those starter flats and can't wait for March to sow my annuals!
Good luck with your winter sowing!

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

You could always cut the top rim off of them and use them around some of your garden plants to hold the soil around the crown of the plant. Really helps when it is watering time and with the collar it keeps the soil in place instead of washing away.


Chadds Ford, PA(Zone 6b)

Yes, but too much work! I already live on the edge with three school age kids, a husband and a job. I will us some upside down when I mulch though, to cover emerging perennials. Save some time!

Calgary, Canada

A Seniors or disability home might have a Gardening Program?
Take them to plant swaps?

Mount Vernon, OH

cut off the bottom; put wire mesh at the bottom. Plant in hole with any kind of bulbs. Option to put chicken wire on top. This way no animals can eat the bulbs.

Ramona, CA(Zone 9b)

A great place to donate your used pots to would be your local garden club. Many clubs hold plant sales in order to generate monies for school scholarships. It's always nice to help out a good cause.

Eugene, OR

Hey. I'm looking for some feedback from some experienced seed germinators. I'm working on a project as a student that involves a flat packaged polyethylene container that is designed to function first as a greenhouse and second as a planter, which eventually leads to hardening and transplanting. My blog is http://theopenlair.blogspot.com/

I would appreciate any feedback. Please check it out. My containers for the germination that also change into the pot are designed to be flat packed so that you can easily store them away without all the bulk and clutter.

Galesburg, IL

Candace, I've looked at your blog, but I am unsure of what the ultimate goal of your project is. Is it new product development, art/design, industrial design or what? Nevertheless, I'll put forth my thoughts on what types of products I use for starting seeds for transplant and what my requirements are. I do most of my seed starting using traditional inserts in 1020 trays (http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/Traditional-Inserts-Hobby-Pack/productinfo/CN-IKNHP/). I mostly use #806 or #804 sized inserts as well as using some plug flats (128) that are then stepped up into either 2.5 or 3 inch pots that are 3.5 inches deep. Requirements for a good container for plant development include: enough space for adequate root development, good drainage, stability in handling container, ability to easily transport many containers at once, ability to bottom water container and finally price. You can see from the web site that 1 1020 flat is $1.40, 1 sheet of a #804 (32cells) cell pack is $.80 and each 2.5" x 3.5" pot is $0.0625. So, the total cost of containers/plant for me is about $0.13 per plant. This can get expensive when you are growing >1000 plants per year, but both the trays and the pots can be used for a minimum of 5 years and I usually use the cell packs for about three years before they break down. I realize that you are not trying to develop a system for production growers, but price needs to be a consideration.

Here are some thoughts on what I can see of your design from your blog: when people are using the paper towel method to germinate seeds, they are usually enclosing that in a zip lock bag to preserve moisture, Your design looks like it would dry out too quickly with all the exposure to air. I like the tapered design of your pot, and it is important to be able to get the plant out of container easily for transplant. Your design looks top heavy and stability of the pot would concern me. Another concern with your design is not being able to bottom water the pot. Once plants have emerged, I bottom water everything to promote root development and prevent damping off of the seedlings from excessive surface moisture. One other concern for me would be the volume of soil needed to fill your pot. I like the extra height of the pot, but I'm not sure that it needs to be as large at the top as it is. For me, that is a rather large volume of soil being used that is excessive for what is needed by the plant for only 8 weeks or so of growth.

Some food for thought on possible changes to your design. 1. get rid of the idea of germination with the paper towel method and germinate in potting soil in your small container and then transplant into the larger. 2. Narrow the top of the container to reduce the amount of media needed to fill the pot. 3. Shorten the overall height of the pot as well, probably 6 inches would be the max you need (2 and 3 would also help with the stability of the system) 4. Drainage is critical and if you don't already have them, holes in the bottom of the container are very important.

Please understand that I am commenting on what I use to produce > 1000 plants per year, and this is probably not what you are designing your system for. I just wanted express some of the things that I look for in a system and hope that these thoughts help you in your project.

Overall, I think it is a very attractive design and that could work well if one was only germinating a small number of seeds. I like the look of the planter and I can envision many different colors/designs that would make the system attractive compared to the basic black currently used by most.

Good luck with your project and don't be shy if you have more questions or need more input.

Eugene, OR

Thank you for your feedback. That's great information and I will use your advice to improve the design. I may have to go with the soil germinating route, or those planting pellets easily fit in the base. Do you think that holes would let too much air in during the germinating phase (you know, before the container is flipped?)

Galesburg, IL

I think the holes would be just fine. As long as the soil is protected by the container and it prevents air from blowing directly on the soil you should be OK. It would be the equivalent of a terrarium.

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