Starting Seeds Using Coffee Cups, Egg Shells or Cardboard Tubes

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021

It's easy to start seeds using recycled materials that you already have at home. Try paper coffee cups, toilet paper rolls, egg shells and more.

It is hard to believe that it almost time to start thinking of starting seeds, but before you know it, spring will have arrived. Growing flowers and vegetables from seed is both fun and rewarding. You can start planting your seeds before it is warm enough outdoors.

How? Well, you can plant your seeds in small containers and grow them indoors for 6 to 8 weeks.  Then, by the time temperatures have warmed up enough outdoors, you will have a good head start when your transplant your 8-week old seedlings out in your garden.

Typically, seeds are planted in spring once the last frost date has past. So, if you want to get a head start, then you need to start your seeds indoors before the average planting date for your zone. Warmer zones (like mine) mean that you start seeds indoors earlier in the year then those of you who live in cooler zones.

I took a look at the calendar yesterday and realized that I had better get my tomato seeds started.  An early start to planting tomatoes is essential in my garden because the heat of summer stops all tomato production. So I gathered my seeds and Starbucks coffee cups that I had been saving (along with some other household items that could also be used as plant containers). Check out the top 5 expert tips for growing tomatoes indoors.

I like using saving coffee cups because they make great containers for starting seeds.  I cut off the bottom portion of the cups with a knife. Coffee sleeves also work great as containers. Other household items that you can use to grow seeds inside of are toilet paper rolls (cut in half), egg shells and even newspaper folded into cups.


If you start your seeds in biodegradable toilet paper rolls, coffee sleeves, egg shells or newspaper, you can plant the seedling—container and all in your garden. Any of these containers will decompose in the soil.  When using coffee cups as containers, I don’t plant them in the ground because their waxy coating will keep them from decomposing. So, I simply cut along the side of the cup and remove it before planting my seedlings.

In addition to seeds and containers, you also need a good quality potting mix. Choose a type that indicates it is suitable for starting seeds.