How to Upcycle Used Pizza Boxes into Organic Plant Pots
Upcycling used pizza boxes into plant pots is an eco-friendly and creative way to reuse household items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. As an avid gardener and environmentalist, I was looking for a DIY project that would allow me to grow my own herbs and vegetables while also reducing waste. With a few simple steps and basic materials, used pizza boxes can be transformed into charming, functional planters that give new life to an item normally destined for the recycling bin or trash.
Gather Used Pizza Boxes and Prepare Them
The first step when upcycling pizza boxes into plant pots is to collect and prepare the used boxes. I save all my pizza boxes for 2-3 weeks prior to starting this project to ensure I have enough materials to work with.
To prepare the boxes:
- Rinse or wipe down the boxes to remove any oil, food residue, or debris. Allow to fully dry before decorating or planting.
- Remove any plastic liners, inserts, or pre-cut pepper packet holes from the box lids. You want a blank canvas to work with.
- Flatten and square off the boxes so they retain a uniform shape once assembled into a pot.
It’s best to work with 10-12 inch square pizza boxes as they provide enough space for root development. Make sure the boxes are fully dry before decorating or planting.
Decorate the Box Exteriors
One of the most enjoyable parts of this project is customizing the outward appearance of each planter box. There are endless possibilities when it comes to decorating – let your creativity shine!
Painting the Boxes
- Acrylic craft paints work best on cardboard. Prior to painting, lightly sand the exterior surface so the paint adheres properly.
- Choose exterior house paint for a durable, weather resistant finish.
- Stencils, stamps, and sponges can add patterns and visual interest. Let dry fully before adding a second coat of color.
- Decoupage colorful tissue paper, scrapbook paper or fabric swatches using Modge Podge.
- Adhere printed photos, mementos or magazine clippings with a glue stick.
- Draw, color or collage the boxes using markers, colored pencils, crayons, stickers, etc.
Add Finishing Touches
- Attach a handle made from jute twine, ribbon, etc. to make carrying your planter easier.
- Glue on pompoms, buttons, sea shells or other small objects to embellish.
- Use painter’s tape and acrylic paint to add geometric designs, stripes, or borders.
Unleash your creative potential to make each upcycled planter unique!
Prepare the Planting Box
Once you’ve decorated the exterior of the pizza box, it’s time to get the inside ready for planting.
- Cut out the interior cardboard bottom of the box, leaving a 1 inch perimeter border so the structure retains its shape.
- Poke several drainage holes in the bottom using a skewer or screwdriver.
- Line the bottom with coffee filters, landscape fabric, or newspaper to prevent soil from leaking out.
- A layer of gravel or pebbles for drainage.
- Activated charcoal to filter impurities from water and keep soil fresh.
- Potting mix specifically formulated for containers, filling 2/3 of the planter box depth.
Plant Your Vegetables or Herbs
The fun part is choosing what to plant in your upcycled pizza box planter! Consider an assortment of herbs, leafy greens, small vegetables or flowers. Some recommendations:
- Basil, oregano, thyme – aromatic herbs that enhance cooking
- Lettuce, kale, spinach – nutritious greens for salads and sandwiches
- Radishes, arugula, beets – colorful, crunchy veggie variety
- Petunias, pansies, succulents – low maintenance flowers and plants
Follow spacing guidelines on seed packets or plant tags to determine how much can be planted in each box. Gently loosen the roots of transplants before placing in soil. Water well after planting!
Caring for Plants in Upcycled Box Planters
Caring for plants in these DIY planters takes just a few minutes each day. Be sure to:
- Water sufficiently when soil is partly dry. Take care not to overwater or leaves may wilt.
- Add a water soluble plant food or compost tea every 2-3 weeks to nourish plants.
- Watch for insect pests like aphids, whiteflies, or spider mites and take action if an infestation occurs.
- Prune off any dead or dying leaves, stems or flower heads.
- Harvest often! Frequently cutting lettuce and herb leaves encourages more growth.
With the right care and conditions, I’ve had great success growing thriving container gardens in upcycled pizza box planters! It’s an extremely rewarding way to reduce waste while producing your own organic herbs, veggies and flowers.
Tips and Considerations
Upcycling pizza boxes into planters is a fairly straightforward project, but here are a few additional pointers:
- Use boxes that are completely clean and grease free inside. Any oily residue could hinder plant health.
- Opt for thin crust or flatbread style boxes without deep interior ridges or dividers. This creates more usable planting space.
- Place drainage holes and lining in box before decorating the exterior to avoid interior water damage.
- Elevate boxes off the ground with plates, blocks or stands to prevent moisture damage from below.
- Move indoor boxes to a sunny window; grow outdoor boxes on a patio or balcony. Provide the light conditions plants need to thrive!
- Modify the planting box dimensions and materials to accommodate larger plants like tomatoes, peppers or eggplants.
With a little planning and experimentation, you can craft upcycled pizza box planters perfectly suited for any type of plant!
Growing my own fresh herbs and greens in repurposed pizza box planters has been so fulfilling and relaxing. I hope these steps give you the confidence to create your own upcycled container garden! Don’t be afraid to get creative and make it your own. Happy planting!