Cardboard Garden Project: Hanging Basket

Last year while testing Cardboard Gardening, we put together a panel of family and friends to give it a try. My wonderful aunt, Cherry Bibler, lives in Washington state, and she graciously volunteered to help us out. (She’s a GREAT gardener, too!)

Cherry wanted to see if she could turn an old fruit box into a hanging basket of sorts, so she put together this wonderful cardboard garden project how-to. I’m really impressed with how it turned out; I think it looks great, especially with keeping the box all natural. Here’s how she did it:


  • Box
  • Marker
  • Box cutter
  • Soil
  • Plants (succulents)
  • Hanging basket



1. First, use a marker to identify where you want to place your plants. Then use a box cutter and carefully make cuts in the shape of a “X.” At the same time, don’t forget to add a couple of drainage holes into the bottom of your box.

2. Fill the box loosely with soil. Then take your plants and push the roots through the openings you created. (Cherry used succulents because they’re a good choice for growing vertically, and they don’t require a lot of water.)

3. After you have your plants placed, fill in with soil on top and around the edges so everything is secure.

4. Place your new cardboard garden container in a hanging basket. Water as needed. At the end of the season, you can bring your plants inside to overwinter. Or you can toss the whole thing in the compost bin and start over next year! You could also leave it outside over winter and see if the plants make it until next year to transfer into a new container or box. That’s the beauty of cardboard—it’s perfect for trying things.

  1. Bonnie Postma says

    Why not cover the box with burlap or fabric of some sort to make it more attractive ? Glue on box before cutting holes.

  2. Stacy (Editors' Blog) says

    Bonnie, good idea! We have some projects coming in the future and some in the A/M issue that shows the box covered, so you can do a variety of things. Thanks for sharing, and look for more ideas coming soon!

  3. Amy Maliborski says

    You could cover up the box with coconut fiber or Spanish moss to hide the cardboard and help keep the soil in.

  4. Kim Nelson says

    I think burlap or fabric is nice, but I would hod podge some wrapping paper or something to keep it biodegradeable. Once the plants groe out the box will be invisible anyway. Nice idea!!! I am going to try it!!Thanks

  5. Paula Diaz says

    moss rose would be a perfect choice for this project! also could fill the top portion with midwest native fame flower-takes heat & dry better than too much moisture & would be really cute wafting above the basket. you could even use plain cardboard for a better look…after holes are cut kids/ adults could decorate w/ crayons/markers/paints to personalize it

  6. Debi S says

    Very cool idea! I am always looking for fun things to do and this fits! I have a bunch of wire hanging baskets and don’t always have time and $ to find the cocoa liners for them (or they are too small) – so I am definitely going to try this! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Janice Jones says

    I have a lot of hanging basket and when I seen this I never thought of doing that way. Great ideal!Now Now I know what
    I can do my with hanging bsaket! Thank!

  8. says

    See, I love the label showing! It shows the wonderful idea that you are promoting! And the colors are wonderful. We should be proud to recycle. My Mom started her plants in coffee cans and was an early composter and recycler. Show your labels proudly!

  9. Stacy (Editors' Blog) says

    We’re glad you all love this…just wait for the A/M issue. You’re really going to love Cardboard Gardening!!!

  10. debbie dory says

    Love this idea and all the spin-offs you can create from it!! Can’t wait to try this in a couple months….spring is a comin’ !!

  11. Dolly says

    Doesn’t the box eventually turn soggy and mushy and disintegrate? So then what happens to the flowers? Am I missing something?

    • Stacy (Editors' Blog) says

      Yep, it sure does Dolly. But most containers need to be replanted, new soil, etc. So it’s just an inexpensive way to have a container for a season or two.

  12. Jean Borden says

    GREAT IDEA! I’m going to try cardboard gardening. As soon as I read your article, I called my sister and friend to tell them about this idea. Waiting on return phone calls,but I’m sure they will like the idea too.

  13. Cherry Bibler says

    I love all the great ideas and comments. I never thought of covering the outside but the box was so colorful it was fun for awhile. The box has hung outside all winter. The plants are doing fine but the box is quite faded now. I’m thinking of putting some woodchips around the outside to see if I can get one more season from the basket. Its just fun to experiment!

  14. Peg says

    Oh boy! I can’t wait to try this. I love succulents and they can cover their pot real fast.
    Plus, it gives so many opportunities for sharing plants with others w/o costly pots. It’s one of those things that asks “why, didn’t I think of that? :)
    “Thanks for the idea!

  15. says

    Try using empty 2 liter soda pop or plastic gallon size juice or milk for container gardening. Cut the 2 liter soda pop int half, use the upper part for a funnel and use the lower part for planting or flower base. The flower base can be use for holiday (Christmas), add pine cones and silk flowers . You can use it for any occasion for flowers.

    Cut the gallon size container for planting or can be use for flowers.

  16. Joan says

    Super fun idea to do with my grandchildren – of course I will cut the X’s – I don’t have any hanging baskets similar to what was shown but I made a trial out of wire – cut wire as long as desired (I used 4 pieces) – laid wire to cross each other – like a star – wrapped a piece of wire in center of cross – bent wires to fit box – converged wires – wrapped with a piece of wire – made hook on end – wrapped it with wire – also made small holes where the wires meet the box to wire tie them to the box (we have WIND) The children will then wrap the wires with plastic lacing and or plastic coated wire. Will use some boxes as they come and some covered with burlap – children can choose.

  17. says

    great idea . well be trying it out . i needed a place to stor cd’s tapes ect . i had some blue denim i wasn’t going to be using .i covered a big box with it. work’s like a charm .

  18. Betty says

    I live in a senior adult facility with a canopy over the small patio and have a basket. I think I will try it!

  19. Marilyn says

    Love the idea. Especially for sharing plants that I divide. But, I have an oblong planter that uses the fiber liners – I can never find the right size and often use 2 round ones. This year I’ll use a ‘custom made’ cardboard box. It’ll keep the dirt in better, too. Thanks for the bright idea.

  20. Jo says

    Power outage- Use the solar lights in your yard – Bring them inside, safe,portable and you always know where they are. Just put them back outside in day-light to recharge.

  21. Chris says

    What about the printing/coating/pictures on the boxes- are they toxic at all for the plants, especially veggies that will be eaten and can I compost this material without worry about toxins?

  22. SAndra OBrien says

    Great idea . I go to Church sales and pick up woven baskets and use them for planters for a season or two.

  23. Willa Reynolds says

    I first read about cardboard gardening in Birds and Blooms when seeing my hairdresser. I planted tomatoes in plain cardboard boxes. One tomato plant has about 25 tomatoes and it is only June. I picked three ripe ones and have several more that are almost ripe. Another plant has several tomatoes and the beefsteak has a tomato that is almost ripe, is a 5′ tall, and has many, many blooms. The cherry tomatoes have quite a few tomatoes and many blooms. Amazing, I’ve never had tomatoes produce like this. However, I was so anxious to plant the tomatoes thinking I could decorate the boxes after. Live and learn, I will decorate the boxes next year before planting. I went to the 99 cent store and got colored duct tape. It works great to hold the box together.

    Thank you Birds and Blooms. Being on limited income, this has been a great way to see how creative I can be.

  24. Joyce Mason says

    Thanks everyone for all the great ideas, I love re-puposing
    items. I took an old toaster and spray painted it white then
    did some whimsical drawings on it, planted some annuals and
    set it out on my porch railing. I even took photos of it and
    shared them with the nursery where I bought the plants. The
    young help there said it was a great idea, one young man said
    he would have thrown the toaster away. I wish I knew how to share
    those photos here :-(


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