Forum Thread

Cheap pots to start plants in? (Nursery pots)

dealnewb 2,084 786 February 17, 2016 at 06:08 AM
Where can I find the cheapest pots (of decent size) to start my seeds indoor? They need to be big enough to grow the plants for 2-3 months.

I live in NYC

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#2
I start seeds in egg cartons. After that, you can move them to quart-size sour cream/cottage cheese/yogurt containers.
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#3
Yes, I'd do what Brian suggested. Use freecycle and Craigslist for a call out for these items. Lots of freecycling folks save them for reuse.
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#4
Quote from RobinMarie View Post :
Yes, I'd do what Brian suggested. Use freecycle and Craigslist for a call out for these items. Lots of freecycling folks save them for reuse.
Quote from Brian1 View Post :
I start seeds in egg cartons. After that, you can move them to quart-size sour cream/cottage cheese/yogurt containers.
Egg cartons sound good till they sprout. I don't have enough quart size containers to use.

I will try freecycle. I posted on craigslist and no one replied.
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#5
I worked in a reuse/deconstruction center and people used all sorts of interesting things to start seeds and later move outside:

Dresser drawers

Mugs and Tea cups

Kitty Litter plastic containers cut in half

Toilet Paper/paper towel rolls
http://yougrowgirl.com/toilet-roll-seed-starter/

To-go containers etc.
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#6
Quote from dealnewb View Post :
Where can I find the cheapest pots (of decent size) to start my seeds indoor? They need to be big enough to grow the plants for 2-3 months.

I live in NYC
I use newspaper to make pots, it is essentially free. Just tear the bottom away once you do plant them, some roots aren't strong enough to push through.

http://www.instructables.com/id/H.../?ALLSTEPS
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#7
Your request is pretty vague, and kind of confusing. What do you consider a "decent size"? (If you're planning to keep them in pots for months, a "decent size for tomatoes and peppers" is not the same as a "decent size for marigolds", for example.)

And as an aside, what plants are you "starting" for 2-3 months (which is at least half of the outdoor NYC-area season for typical annuals)? I hope this doesn't seem rude, but but do you have much gardening experience? That's an awfully long time ahead to be starting seeds for outdoor transplanting. "Bigger" does not mean "better". Smaller plants with healthy root systems (that aren't potbound, among other things) will grow on much more quickly once planted outside than will older plants with roots tightly wrapped around the inside of their pots. The latter basically have to all but "start over" regrowing roots that can spread naturally in the soil, the old coiled ones won't simply start growing in an entirely new, healthier pattern. And unless you have truly exceptional exposure to natural light indoors (or are starting them in a greenhouse) or you're using high-powered supplemental lighting like HIDs, the plants are not likely to do very well for so long indoors regardless of potsize ...

All that aside, realistically, if you want "proper" plant pots bigger than the small peat pots you can buy at box stores (or the newspaper pots you can make yourself, that someone else mentioned), your best bet is really mail-ordering. Even with shipping, you'll get much better prices on large lots of pots than anything you can find in or very close to the city. As you might imagine, we're not exactly "gardening central," so there aren't many "serious" retailers here at all for this sort of thing. You might get a semi-OK price on basic sizes/shapes of pots on Home Depot's or Lowe's websites and have them shipped-to-store, but dedicated nurseries/gardening supply places generally have much better prices and invariably a much better selection of pots - by size, format, and material. And since plastic pots are light, shipping charges shouldn't be high...

But if you really want to stick with a local source, check out Indoor-Outdoor Gardening in Bay Ridge. (It's been some time since I shopped there, so I'm not entirely sure that's the exact name, but it should be enough to search with.) Their prices of course aren't as low as the lowest mailorder sources, but they aren't (or at least didn't used to be) extortionate either, and they do (or again, did) have a much wider range of pots than any other garden/plant store I've seen in the city (not that there many left to choose from anyway, these days.) Plus, the owners and employees are knowledgeable (and nice/friendly) so you can get good advice if you're not entirely sure what you need for your specific purposes...

And last, but by no means least, if you're looking for smaller-to-medium sizes and don't mind a few plastic fumes from punching a heated nail (ice pick, or other similar implement) through a bunch of plastic, the really big, plastic Dixie-type "party cups" actually work quite well if you melt drainage holes in the bottoms. (And they'll even last a couple of years if they aren't exposed to full sun outdoors for months on end.) You can also check out 99ยข stores, or discount stores/supermarkets (mostly outside of Manhattan, these days) for cheap, semi-disposable quart and larger plastic containers (like the ones restaurants use for takeout.) You could also try the restaurant supply places on the Bowery below Delancey for containers like those too, but there are fewer of those places than there used to be,and are their prices aren't as competitive as they were before commercial rents started skyrocketing in that area...
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Last edited by MikeG64 February 22, 2016 at 01:48 AM
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#8
Quote from MikeG64 View Post :
Your request is pretty vague, and kind of confusing. What do you consider a "decent size"? (If you're planning to keep them in pots for months, a "decent size for tomatoes and peppers" is not the same as a "decent size for marigolds", for example.)

And as an aside, what plants are you "starting" for 2-3 months (which is at least half of the outdoor NYC-area season for typical annuals)? I hope this doesn't seem rude, but but do you have much gardening experience? That's an awfully long time ahead to be starting seeds for outdoor transplanting. "Bigger" does not mean "better". Smaller plants with healthy root systems (that aren't potbound, among other things) will grow on much more quickly once planted outside than will older plants with roots tightly wrapped around the inside of their pots. The latter basically have to all but "start over" regrowing roots that can spread naturally in the soil, the old coiled ones won't simply start growing in an entirely new, healthier pattern. And unless you have truly exceptional exposure to natural light indoors (or are starting them in a greenhouse) or you're using high-powered supplemental lighting like HIDs, the plants are not likely to do very well for so long indoors regardless of potsize ...

All that aside, realistically, if you want "proper" plant pots bigger than the small peat pots you can buy at box stores (or the newspaper pots you can make yourself, that someone else mentioned), your best bet is really mail-ordering. Even with shipping, you'll get much better prices on large lots of pots than anything you can find in or very close to the city. As you might imagine, we're not exactly "gardening central," so there aren't many "serious" retailers here at all for this sort of thing. You might get a semi-OK price on basic sizes/shapes of pots on Home Depot's or Lowe's websites and have them shipped-to-store, but dedicated nurseries/gardening supply places generally have much better prices and invariably a much better selection of pots - by size, format, and material. And since plastic pots are light, shipping charges shouldn't be high...

But if you really want to stick with a local source, check out Indoor-Outdoor Gardening in Bay Ridge. (It's been some time since I shopped there, so I'm not entirely sure that's the exact name, but it should be enough to search with.) Their prices of course aren't as low as the lowest mailorder sources, but they aren't (or at least didn't used to be) extortionate either, and they do (or again, did) have a much wider range of pots than any other garden/plant store I've seen in the city (not that there many left to choose from anyway, these days.) Plus, the owners and employees are knowledgeable (and nice/friendly) so you can get good advice if you're not entirely sure what you need for your specific purposes...

And last, but by no means least, if you're looking for smaller-to-medium sizes and don't mind a few plastic fumes from punching a heated nail (ice pick, or other similar implement) through a bunch of plastic, the really big, plastic Dixie-type "party cups" actually work quite well if you melt drainage holes in the bottoms. (And they'll even last a couple of years if they aren't exposed to full sun outdoors for months on end.) You can also check out 99? stores, or discount stores/supermarkets (mostly outside of Manhattan, these days) for cheap, semi-disposable quart and larger plastic containers (like the ones restaurants use for takeout.) You could also try the restaurant supply places on the Bowery below Delancey for containers like those too, but there are fewer of those places than there used to be,and are their prices aren't as competitive as they were before commercial rents started skyrocketing in that area...

Thanks. I didn't pay attention to the fact that different plants would need different size pots.

I am starting peppers and butternut squash. Everywhere I read it says to start the seeds 2 months. Looking at a few sites Mid april is the last frost date by me. That would put me at around 2 months away. This is my first time trying to start them so early on. Usually I start them around March, but I want to experiment with getting a head start. In about a month im going to try starting okra and tomatoes.

I found that I had 2 of those small plastic 4-6 "slot" pots that come with the vegetable plants HD and other stores sell. I filled them with potting soil and planted the seeds, they are sitting over an urn with an oven glove underneath as a way to heat the soil during the day.

I like the cup idea. I use that every year, usually with plastic cups though. This year I will either try the plastic cups again lined with newspaper, foam cups or paper as suggested. I was hoping small plastic pots that have room for root growth would be cheap to find and I could have them sit on an electric blanket. There are plenty of space I can find which get adequate sun at home.
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#9
Quote from dealnewb View Post :
Egg cartons sound good till they sprout. I don't have enough quart size containers to use.

I will try freecycle. I posted on craigslist and no one replied.
hi
if you try it maybe you can give us some picture about it,if all is ok both of us can do like this :-)
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#10
Quote from monkey2016 View Post :
hi
if you try it maybe you can give us some picture about it,if all is ok both of us can do like this :-)
Pictures of what?
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#11
Quote from dealnewb View Post :
Thanks. I didn't pay attention to the fact that different plants would need different size pots.

I am starting peppers and butternut squash. Everywhere I read it says to start the seeds 2 months. Looking at a few sites Mid april is the last frost date by me. That would put me at around 2 months away. This is my first time trying to start them so early on. Usually I start them around March, but I want to experiment with getting a head start. In about a month im going to try starting okra and tomatoes.

I found that I had 2 of those small plastic 4-6 "slot" pots that come with the vegetable plants HD and other stores sell. I filled them with potting soil and planted the seeds, they are sitting over an urn with an oven glove underneath as a way to heat the soil during the day.

I like the cup idea. I use that every year, usually with plastic cups though. This year I will either try the plastic cups again lined with newspaper, foam cups or paper as suggested. I was hoping small plastic pots that have room for root growth would be cheap to find and I could have them sit on an electric blanket. There are plenty of space I can find which get adequate sun at home.
Well, six weeks to 2 months is probably fine/good for some vegs, but 3 months is really pushing it, in terms of the plants becoming hopelessly etoliated from the lack of adequate light, as well as potbound. This chart [almanac.com] looks pretty good, to give you another site to check out.

As for "proper" pots vs Dixie cups, I don't think there's any hope of finding similarly-sized pots for less money unless you're buying in huge quantities, and the cheapest "pots" aren't likely to be any sturdier. They would already have drainage holes/slots, but for the number of pots it sounds like you're going to be using, that's probably not that big a deal...

Two last comments: light that would be adequate for houseplants might not be for vegetable seedlings. And even the best indoor lighting suffers from the significant drawback of not providing "all around" lighting, especially from directly overhead. Through windows or patio doors, it's always coming in at an angle, and so is necessarily shaded by the building when the sun is highest in the sky. Right now, when the sun is fairly still low in the sky anyway, that's less of an issue, but as time marches on, it will become more important and, unfortunately in this context, as the plants get older, they will need more light to stay their proper size/shape, rather than stretching to "reach for" the light... Second comment is, be very careful about using an electric "blanket" or "throw" as a seed starting mat. Not only are they not in any designed to be waterproof (and of course water and electricity do not mix!), they aren't designed to maintain the warm-but-very-low temperatures seeds/seedlings need. Warming pads designed for seed-starting do unfortunately tend to be expensive, but if your ambient indoor temperature is on the cool side, they might be a good investment over the long haul...
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Last edited by MikeG64 March 1, 2016 at 02:49 AM
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#12
Thank you for the advice. What I am doing at the end is follows.

I made square newspaper pots, lined them up in a cardboard box and put a loose fitting saran wrap over it. My calculation is that it either fails because I started to early and I start again in a month or two or it works out.

I will not be using the electric blanket, I read up on how its not 100% safe for this use.
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