Lately, I have been collecting toilet paper rolls.  Now I know that may sound a bit weird to some of you, but I needed them for my garden.

So how on earth can toilet paper rolls help you in the garden?

Well, they are an inexpensive, environmentally friendly tool in which to start seeds indoors.

bush beans, marigolds, Kentucky beans, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spinach

From upper right – bush beans, marigolds, Kentucky beans, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and spinach.

I thought this would be a good project to do with the kids, so we gathered our seeds.

toilet paper rolls

We cut each toilet paper roll in half (you can use paper towel rolls and cut them into thirds for this too.)

toilet paper rolls

We used a planting mix that had slow-release fertilizer already included and also had water-holding granules. I advise wetting the soil before adding it to your toilet paper rolls.

toilet paper rolls

Now that we had everything, we were ready to start. The kids used tablespoons to ‘spoon’ the planting mix into each tube.

toilet paper rolls

Then we lightly pressed down the planting mix and added more.

toilet paper rolls

Now it was time to plant.

toilet paper rolls

Then we used a spray bottle filled with water to thoroughly water each planted seed.

Now we had to create a ‘mini-greenhouse’ effect by covering our toilet paper roll with clear plastic wrap with some holes in the top.  Then we placed them on top of the refrigerator, where it was warm enough to help them germinate.


Every day, we checked the moisture of each toilet paper roll and added more water if necessary.

Once the seedlings germinated, we removed the plastic wrap permanently and placed our seedlings by our bright, sunny kitchen window.

We are keeping the soil moist, but not soggy.

Soon, we will be able to plant our seedlings (with their toilet paper rolls) in the vegetable garden.  The cardboard from the toilet paper rolls will disintegrate into the soil.

Of course, you can always use the ready-made plastic seeding trays, but I must admit that I like this method better 🙂

**Are you new to vegetable gardening in the desert?  We are fortunate that we can grow a large variety of vegetables, as well as fruit.  I invite you to click the ‘Shop’ tab where you’ll find some great information on growing vegetables.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
36 replies
  1. D
    D says:

    This is a great idea. I love it. I have four little kids and am always saving these for art projects that never seem to happen. I have used styrofoam cups in the past for my veggies, but they take up a lot more room and I can't plant them. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. bakingbarb
    bakingbarb says:

    I've been saving toilet paper rolls – on pinterest there are all these wonderful artsy type projects and so I started saving the rolls. I doubt very much my rolls are going to end up art, your idea is much better!

  3. Backyard Farmer
    Backyard Farmer says:

    We used newspaper to make our seed pots. It worked surprisingly well. The roots had no problem breaking through and since we were able to plant them paper and all, we didn't have to disturb the roots much when we stuck the plants in the ground.

    Thanks for the great inspiration to use something that would otherwise end up in the landfill. 🙂

  4. Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead
    Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead says:

    Such a great idea of seed planting! Too cute to see those seedlings in toilet paper rolls. I can't wait to see them growing. Thanks for sharing. I wanna try this too.I actually host a weekly gardening link up every Friday on my blog. I'd love for you to drop by and join in.

  5. Michele
    Michele says:

    I found your blog and I absolutely love it! Thank you so much for all of the great advice! I love this idea of starting seedlings in the toilet paper rolls, I am going to be doing this with flower seeds. I live in Phoenix and I am constantly trying to find advice for our hot climate! Thank you!!

  6. Elbé
    Elbé says:

    This is a wonderful idea! U tried it and since we have a big family, I always have toilet rolls that would be thrown away anyway! Thanks!

  7. Balmedout
    Balmedout says:

    where I live they’d end up in recycling and not in a landfill. I’ll be using them for planting come spring!

  8. FL_Mom2Six
    FL_Mom2Six says:

    I would like to do this project but I don’t have very many of those tp tubes. Can someone send me some? It will take me a year to save enough tubes to do this project. Oh well, I guess I can always do this project next year.

  9. says:

    Hello Angela,

    You want to plant them outdoors at the best time of year for that particular vegetable for your area. So, if you sowed tomato seedlings, I’d estimate you would grow them indoors for 4-6 weeks before planting outdoors.

  10. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Wonderful idea! I will be doing this with my students and in my backyard as well. Thank you!

  11. Karen
    Karen says:

    I tried this and the seeds germinated great but the seedlings failed to thrive. Any idea why? I moved some to peat pots and they took off.

  12. says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m not sure why they didn’t thrive. Seedlings are sensitive to overwatering and the cardboard can stay wetter than peat pots. That would be my guess. Next time, allow more time in between watering. Hopefully, that will help.

  13. Людмила
    Людмила says:

    ОчеКостас Мэндилорнь неожиданная идея,хочу обязательно весной попробовать спасибо! Но я живу в России-здесь с погода ВСЕГДА


  14. Edna
    Edna says:

    You are not alone! I’ve been doing this for3 years and it works so well. I do no replant my seedlings in small pots anymore. I put them directly into the garden after hardening off. I don’t have so many die from removing the pot to put it into my garden.

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