Create Self Watering Pots From Yogurt Cotainers & Plastic Cups to Keep Potted Plants Healthy

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If you grow African violets, especially the mini varieties, or if you just like to root small cuttings, self-watering pots are the way to go. By recycling plastic yogurt cups and plastic bathroom cups, you can create mini self-watering pots just right for your needs.

Supplies You Will Need

For this recycling project, you will need:

  • An awl or something else to punch a small hole in the plastic cup.
  • A black fine point permanent marker
  • Yoplait yogurt cups, washed and sterilized. You can only use other types if they have plastic lids, as you will need the lids to hold the cups.
  • Plastic bathroom cups, 2 oz. size. White is better, since you can write the name on it and read them better, but clear will work as well.
  • 2-ply acrylic yarn. If you don’t have two ply, you can separate 4-ply yarn. Cotton or wool yarn won’t work, as natural fibers will deteriorate too rapidly.
  • Soilless potting medium appropriate for the plant you are growing or rooting. For rooting African Violet or other gesneriad leaves, use a 50/50 mix of good quality African Violet soil and perlite. For rooting woody cuttings, use a good quality potting mix 50/50 with perlite. It is not advisable to use self-watering pots to root succulent or cactus cuttings, although you can use them to start cactus seeds.

Wicking Your Self-Watering Pots

  1. Cut wicks from the acrylic yarn about 3 inches long.
  2. Write the name of the plant you are planting/rooting across the top of the pot with the permanent marker.
  3. Poke a small hole into the bottom of your 2 oz. bathroom cup, and thread the wick through, leaving about 1 inch inside the pot.

Making Your Self-Watering Pot Well

  1. Fill a Yoplait yogurt cup with enough water so that it will not touch the bottom of the bathroom cup, and drop a penny into the bottom. The copper in the penny keeps algae from forming inside the well.
  2. Place the wick and filled bathroom cup over the yogurt cup, letting the wick go into the water.
  3. Pour water into the top of the bathroom cup until the soil is moist (this won’t take much, but it has to be done to make the wick start working).
  4. Set in a spot with appropriate light for the plant or cutting. You will need to check the water level frequently to make sure your well hasn’t run dry, and that algae isn’t growing inside the well. If algae builds up on the wick, you must clean it off, or it will stop wicking water into the pot.

Making a Well From a Yogurt Cup With a Plastic Lid

All you need to do to make a well from a yogurt cup with a plastic lid is to cut a hole into the lid that is about 1/2 inch wider than the diameter of the bottom of the bathroom cup. Place the lid on the cup that has water added and put the bathroom cup down through the hole.

There you have it, a mini self-watering pot that can be reused over and over, and less plastic in our landfills. Recycling your plastic cups is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.


All information and instructions contained herein are from the author’s own knowledge and experience.

This post is part of the series: Recycling and Reusing Household Trash for Your Garden

There are so many things you can use in your garden instead of adding to the landfills. Plastic bottles, yogurt containers, popsicle sticks, vinyl mini blinds, newspapers and cardboard are just a few. Come read and find ways to recycle and reuse instead of discarding useful items.

  1. Recycling Plastic Bottles into Mini Greenhouses and Planting Pots
  2. Recycling Toilet Paper Rolls into Homemade Peat Pots for Your Garden
  3. Recycling Plastic Yogurt Cups and Plastic Bathroom Cups as Self-Watering Pots
  4. Recycling Mini Blinds to Make Weatherproof Labels for Your Plants
  5. Recycling Paper and Cardboard for Weed Control in Your Garden