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Cultivation pots & aids for successful cultivation

10.02.2023  /  Reading time: 12 minutes

There is a large selection of growing containers. From professional growing plates to homemade growing pots made from toilet paper or egg cartons, there are many options for growing your seedlings. In this article, you can find out which growing pots are available and what advantages and disadvantages they offer.

This article contains:

  1. Seed trays & Quickpot tray: sowing in large quantities
  2. Swelling tablets & coconut pots: Simply sow
  3. Make your own growing pots: Tips for upcycling and DIY
  4. Sowing seeds: tools for successful pre-cultivation
  5. Which pot size for which plants?
  6. Growing pots are moldy: What can I do?
  7. Frequently asked questions about seed sowing aids

Quick Overview

What growing pots are available?

  • Seed trays & quickpot trays are good for sowing large quantities, but you should make sure you have enough space for them
  • Swelling tablets and growing pots made of coconut or hemp fibers can be planted directly into the soil with your seedlings, but you will have to buy them every year
  • Growing pots are also easy to make yourself, e.g. from egg cartons & trays, toilet paper rolls, newspaper or old plastic boxes
  • With a potting press, you can save on growing pots from the outset - all you need is some growing soil and a base

Tools for your cultivation

  • To make growing a little easier, you can also use aids such as propagators, heating mats, plant lamps and growing racks

Growing pots - what to consider?

  • Depending on whether your plants are shallow or deep-rooted and whether they grow quickly or slowly, they will need different sizes of growing pots.
  • If there is mold on the growing soil or pots, stop watering and allow the soil to almost dry out. You can also spray the affected plants and pots with horsetail tea.

Seed trays & Quickpot tray: sowing in large quantities

You can reuse plastic propagation trays and Quickpot propagation trays or multi-pot trays every year. This saves you having to buy or make your own growing pots. With propagation trays, you can either fill the tray directly with special propagation soil and sow your seeds. Alternatively, you can also use the seed tray as a base for your seed pots. This makes it easy to transport and cover your seedlings. You can find out more about potting compost and how to make it under Make your own potting compost.

Quickpot growing trays are often used in nurseries as they allow you to sow a large number of seeds quickly. They therefore offer you an advantage if you want to propagate a large number of plants. However, depending on their size, seed trays and multi-pot trays can take up a lot of space and don't always fit on the windowsill. You should therefore think about whether you have a suitable place for the trays beforehand.

Swelling tablets & coconut pots: Simply sow

Swelling tablets or pots are usually made of coconut fibers and are a very simple and quick method of pre-sowing seeds. The pre-soaking pots only need to be pre-soaked in water. You can then sow the seeds directly. When buying soaker trays, make sure that they do not contain peat.

Growing pots made from coconut fibers are also available to buy. However, you have to fill these with soil yourself before you can put your seeds in the soil. As with the swelling tablets, you can also plant these pots directly into the soil. There are also plant pots made from hemp fibers, which are also biodegradable. However, they take a little longer to decompose, around 10 weeks. This makes them unsuitable for planting in.

Normal clay and plastic pots can of course also be used for sowing. In general, you should always make sure that the water can drain out of the growing pots. This is because your seedlings should not stand in water, as this can quickly lead to mold. You can find out what else you should consider when growing in our article Growing vegetable plants.

Pre-feeding swelling tablets
Growing with swelling tablets is simple and uncomplicated. Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash.

Make your own growing pots: Tips for upcycling and DIY

Growing pots are easy to make yourself with a little time and planning. This will save you money on buying plant pots and do something good for the environment. In order to have your pots available in good time, you should start collecting egg cartons and toilet paper rolls early on. Otherwise you won't end up with enough containers for your seeds.

Egg carton and eggshells as growing containers

Egg cartons and eggshells are easy ways to propagate small plants without having to spend a lot of time making seed pots. Just make sure you remove the labels first. You can then simply add some soil to your egg cartons and sow your seeds. You should clean the eggshells beforehand and carefully poke a hole in the bottom before filling them with soil. This will allow excess water to drain away. However, egg cartons and eggshells do not offer much space for your plants. You should therefore sow crops that do not form deep roots (e.g. lettuce, cress). As soon as your seedlings are big enough, you can simply place them in the soil with the carton or tray.

Toilet paper rolls as seed pots

Toilet paper rolls or kitchen rolls can also be planted directly in the soil with your seedlings and will then be decomposed by soil organisms. To make your own growing containers from toilet paper rolls, all you need is a few toilet paper rolls and a pair of scissors. Simply cut 1-2 cm into one edge of the rolls in four places and then fold the four pieces into each other.

Growing pots made from newspaper: instructions

You can make growing pots from newspaper in a similar way. The easiest way to do this is with a paper pot press, but you can also make your own pots using a bottle or jars. To do this, take a newspaper and cut it in half. Then wrap the newspaper around the bottle or jar so that a piece of newspaper sticks out at the end. It's best to wrap the newspaper around 2-3 times so that your pots are nice and stable. The protruding end is cut into four sides and folded into each other, just like the toilet rolls. Optionally, depending on the stability of your homemade pots, you can tie some string around the newspaper.

Make your own newspaper growing pots
You can easily make your own growing pots from newspaper. Image by Jenny Johansson on Pixabay.

Plastic plant pots: save plastic with upcycling

Used plastic trays, yoghurt pots, tetrapacks or other containers that would otherwise end up in the bin can easily be used as growing pots. However, you should clean them well before use to prevent diseases from developing. You should also make sure that excess water can drain away so that your seedlings don't stand in water. They don't like that.

Soil pot press - plastic-free preplanting

With a soil pot or soil ball press, you save yourself any growing container, as you make your own soil balls/soil pots. All you need is a base for your pots. This makes the soil pot press a plastic-free alternative to conventional growing containers.

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Sowing seeds: tools for successful pre-cultivation

There are a few things to bear in mind when growing young plants. Here are a few tools that can help you with pre-cultivation.

Seed tray/room greenhouse: growing seedlings in advance

A propagator, also known as a propagator, is a good way to ensure a consistent temperature and humidity for your seedlings. These factors are particularly important when growing young plants. You can buy propagators, but you can also easily make your own with some transparent film and fruit crates, a few plastic trays, or simply with a few glass jars that you stack on top of each other. Of course, the glass jars take up a bit of space, but are well suited for individual plants.

If you use a propagator or other type of mini-greenhouse for your seedlings, you should remove the cover at least once a day for 10 minutes. Otherwise mold will easily develop. The cover is particularly important until germination. As your plants like it a little cooler afterwards, they often no longer need the cover after germination.

Indoor greenhouse cultivation
Indoor greenhouses help to keep your seedlings evenly moist and warm. Image by Andreas Göllner on Pixabay.

Heating mat for your young plants: Do I need it?

A constant temperature is very important for your young plants. Maintaining this is not so easy if the temperature in your rooms fluctuates day and night. Heating mats can help to keep the temperature evenly high. A heating mat is particularly suitable for heat-loving nightshade and pumpkin plants, for example, if you grow them in an unheated greenhouse. However, a heating mat is often superfluous on the windowsill, as it is usually warm enough here anyway due to the heating.

Growing rack to save space

You first need to find space in your home for a growing shelf. However, if you can find a place, you have the opportunity to grow a lot of young plants in a small space. However, you should also make sure that your plants get enough light everywhere.

Plant lamps - avoid yellowing

Light is still very scarce, especially in winter. However, most plants need more light than is available during these months. Therefore, plant lamps can help you to prevent plants from going to seed - i.e. growing weak and thin because there is not enough light.

Which pot size for which plants?

When choosing your planters, you should also pay attention to how much space your plants need. Some plants such as cucumber, zucchini and pumpkin need more space than lettuce, for example, while tomatoes and celery like to grow deeper roots. The smaller the pot, the sooner you will also need to prick out and repot your plants. You can find out more about when you should start which plants in advance in our Vegetable planting calendar article.

Shallow or deep rooter?

  • Shallow-rooted plants need rather wide but less deep pots (these include onions, leeks and some herbs)
  • Deep-rooted plants (or sometimes medium-deep-rooted plants) need particularly deep pots, which should be at least 6 cm high (e.g. for tomatoes, celery and some perennials)
  • Pumpkins, zucchinis and melons do not like to be pricked out, so the diameter of the growing container should be between 8-10 cm.
  • Lettuces do not need large pots as they can be planted out in the open quite early on

Growing pots are moldy: What can I do?

Mold on the potting soil or on the seed pots is a sign of too much moisture. Keeping your seedlings moist is important for their growth. However, if you are using a cover or a propagator, you should air the lid at least once a day for 10 minutes.

Another reason for mold can be germs in the potting soil. Although store-bought potting compost should be germ-free, it can sometimes happen that germs are still present. This is the case, for example, if the soil has been outside for a while or the quality of the potting soil is not good. If you make your own potting compost, you should sterilize it in the oven or microwave before use.

Plastic growing pots can also develop mold if you have not cleaned them properly. Growing pots made from newspaper, toilet paper rolls and egg cartons are particularly prone to mold. This is because they soak up the irrigation water and mold spores from the air like to settle there.

Horsetail tea against mold

If mold does form, you should ventilate your plants well and stop watering them. This will allow the soil to almost dry out and prevent the fungi from spreading. Horsetail tea is also a good remedy for mold. You can find out how to make your own tea in our article on making your own horsetail tea. If you then spray your plants with it regularly, the mold should disappear on its own.

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Cover image by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash.

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Marielena studies agricultural and environmental sciences. She gardens at home and at an allotment and likes to try out new things. She loves to spend time in nature during gardening, bird watching and photographing, hiking and camping.

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Growing trays and Quickpot growing plates are well suited for sowing large quantities, as they are reusable and allow efficient use of space.

Yes, spring pots and pots made from biodegradable materials such as coconut or hemp fibers can be planted directly in the soil, which makes transplanting easier.

Growing pots can be easily made from everyday materials such as egg cartons, toilet paper rolls or newspaper, which is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.

If mold forms, watering should be reduced and the affected plants and pots should be treated with a fungicidal tea such as horsetail.

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