10 Ways to Reuse Plant Pots

Every year I end up with plant pots that I’ve used and can’t seem to bring myself to toss. They were under my front porch. They were under my back porch. They were on my potting table in the basement. I started to feel that they were going to end taking over the entire house. Now I’ve found 10 ways to reuse plant pots that you may want to try, too!

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Make a water ring for your water-loving plants – Tomatoes, peppers, and some other vegetables are water-loving plants but giving them enough water can cause the soil to become compacted. This means the plants aren’t getting all the water you try to give them. An easy fix is to take a large plastic pot, cut out the bottom, and push it about halfway into the soil. Then place your plant inside the pot, fill it partway with soil, and water. Each time you water the ring will hold water in allowing it to gradually soak into the soil instead of running right off. If you’ve already planted these water-loving plants just cut a slit down one side of the pot, push into the soil, and then use waterproof tape to close the slit.

Make water reservoirs for other thirsty plants – Summer squash is another vegetable that requires lots of water. But making a water ring around a zucchini plant won’t work. Instead, take an old pot (any material as long as the pot has drainage holes in the bottom) and dig a hole a few inches from the stem of the plant. Put the pot in the hole, leaving a couple of inches sticking out. Then just fill the pot with water. The drain holes at the bottom will allow water to soak deep into the soil.

Make a transplanting guide – When your plants are ready for new pots fill the new pot partway with soil. Take a pot the same size as the one your plant is in and put in inside the larger pot. Fill around the empty pot with soil. When you’ve put the correct level of soil into the large pot just remove the smaller one and you’ll have a ready-made hole just the right size for your transplant. Just pop the plant out of the old pot, loosen the roots, and put in the hole. Gently pat down the soil and water the plant.

Make a home for bees and other beneficial insects – Take an empty pot and fill it with sections of bamboo cut to fit. Hang the pot using a hook screwed into the side in a sheltered area. The insects will thank you!

Make a garden twine dispenser – I’m always losing the end of my garden twine on the spool or it gets so tangled I end up throwing the entire spool away. Now I just put the twine in a pot, thread the end through one of the drain holes in the bottom, fit a bit of cardboard on the “bottom” (the original top of the pot), and affix the cardboard  with duct tape. To prevent the twine from slipping down into the pot I glue a peg to the outside of the pot and just make a couple wraps of twine around it after I’ve cut what I need. This also works for kitchen twine. And you can use non-toxic paint to make the dispenser prettier for indoor use.

Make a produce pre-wash bowl – When I gather my produce I like to give it a wash before taking it in the house. In the past, when I didn’t do this, I found I was bringing bugs in with the vegetables. Now I use a large, lightweight pot to gather my vegetables and give them a good spray with the hose before taking them inside.

Make a stand for painting projects – If you are painting and don’t want to have the item touch the ground try turning over a few appropriately sized pots and using them as a paint stand.

Make an ornament box for tiny decorations – When my husband was undergoing chemo therapy we didn’t want to put up our large Christmas tree. We got a little tabletop tree and used tiny ornaments. The problem is that those ornaments are easily lost. My solution was to use a seedling tray to store mini-ornaments. The tray keeps the delicate ornaments from bumping each other and the entire tray can be kept in a cardboard box for easy storage.

Make a winter salt shaker – I used to throw de-icer on the porch and steps with a cup but this was a bad way for me to do it. The porch right outside the front door got piles of the stuff while the steps got less and less the farther down they were. This is my trick for distributing de-icer more evenly. Hold one pot inside another. Fill the interior pot with sidewalk salt or other de-icer. Shake the interior pot over the areas you want to de-ice. Using two pots keeps the salt from falling out too quickly, causing some areas to get too much salt and others not enough.

Make a bead holder – I try to craft. I really do. So I sometimes buy craft items which usually ended up jumbled up in a plastic zipper bag. This caused me to say things I shouldn’t when I tried to fish out a particular item. Now I use a seedling tray to keep beads and other small craft items organized and separate. Seedling trays are also great for organizing screws, nuts, bolts, and other small hardware.

 Do you reuse your old pots? I’d love to hear how!

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Companion Planting to Attract Bees and Deter Pests

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  • Bachelor’s Buttons has bright blue flower that attract pollinators that are important to the formation of beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. They also attract insects that will prey upon damaging insects such as scales and thrips.
  • Bee Balm Monarda is a bee favorite and will help your tomatoes taste better. It’s a beautiful plant but it can be invasive so be prepared to remove plants as they spread. Also keep in mind that it gets tall so consider what sunlight it may block from other plants when finding it a home in your garden.
  • Borage deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms by confusing the moths that lay the eggs that become those pests. It’s a great companion plant for tomatoes, squash, strawberries, and other plants. The leaves are rich in and vitamin C calcium, potassium and mineral salts and the flowers are edible. Bees absolutely love it! It’s self-sowing so be sure to pick your spot for it carefully and till it back in the soil.
  • Chamomile (German) is a sun loving annual which plays host to hoverflies and trichogramma wasps. These two eat the eggs and larvae of many garden pests including tomato hornworms, aphids, scales, whiteflies, sawfly larvae, ants, leaf miners, and several types of caterpillars. It also improves your soil by accumulating calcium, potassium, and sulfur then returning them to the soil. Chamomile improves the flavor of cabbages, cucumbers, and onions. It will reseed itself so remove it before it bolts or rotate crops that love it when you plant the next season.
  • Lavender repels fleas and moths, including codling moths if planted near fruit trees. It attracts beneficial insects and protects plants from whiteflies. Allow lavender to dry out between waterings.
  • Petunias in purple and pink tones are a bee favorite. Petunias are a good companion plant for tomatoes. It repels a wide range of pests including the asparagus beetle, leafhoppers, certain aphids, tomato worms, and Mexican bean beetles. Be sure to buy heirloom seeds so the plant will self-seed.
  • Rosemary deters cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies. It’s a perennial so plant it where it can have a home for a long time. It is an excellent companion plant for cabbage, beans, carrots, and sage. A cutting of rosemary placed by the crown of carrots deters carrot rot.
  • Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) is an herb that not only attracts bees but contains saponins which cause boiled solutions made with soapwort to lather. Before phosphates this plant was used for washing lace, silk, and woolens. It was also used as a shampoo. Harvest the leaves, stems, and roots to make liquid soap. You don’t want the soapwort groundcover, however. Be sure to plant Saponaria officinalis. It’s a perennial that grows to about 3 feet and will grow from zones 3 – 9. It, unlike many herbs, needs well-composted soil and excellent drainage. It can become invasive so be watchful of it. When it blooms, usually in late July, it has a lovely spicy berry scent. It requires support to stay upright.
  • Sunflowers attract hummingbirds that eat whiteflies. Ants will herd aphids on to sunflowers and small birds eat both the ants and the aphids.
  • Zinnia attracts bees and other pollinators and hummingbirds which eat whiteflies. Pastel varieties of zinnias can be used as a trap crop for Japanese beetles.