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Filler Ideas for Potted Plants

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Photo of a potted plant.
There are a lot of things you can use to fill under the soil in your potted plants. Some of them will help reduce the weight of large pots, others help retain moisture. This is a guide about filler ides for potted plants.
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By 5 found this helpful
August 25, 2016

This is a great tip for lightweight hanging pots for indoor plants! Pots can get really heavy when using pebbles or stones for drainage, which can be very taxing on the hooks hanging from your ceiling. Next time, try this instead: Use old bath-scrubbies in place of rocks! New ones are inexpensive, or you can recycle old ones you already have. (Just be sure to thoroughly rinse in hot water for a few minutes to remove any soap residue).

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It only takes a second to poke around in the scrubber and find the thread that ties it all together- snip this and you'll end up with yards and yards of excellent, lightweight drainage material for the bottom of your pots.

Depending on the size of your pots, you can choose to use the scrubber whole or cut up lengths of the material from just one. (Mine yielded about 9 yds).

I also use a piece of weed-blocking cloth on top of the scrubbie material to help keep soil loss to minimum. I hope you found this tip to be helpful. Happy potting!

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Comment Was this helpful? 5
September 17, 20162 found this helpful

I always put a coffee filter in bottom over hole to stop soil from getting out. Works great!

Reply Was this helpful? 2
Anonymous
August 29, 20161 found this helpful

Super idea!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
August 31, 20161 found this helpful

Thanks! My back is bad, so it helps me a lot!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
Anonymous
September 4, 20161 found this helpful

That's a great idea. Thanks.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
September 17, 20161 found this helpful

I wasn't sure I was going to like this tip, and then I read on, and saw where you put landscape fabric over the scrubby things. Now, I think it's an excellent idea!

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September 19, 20161 found this helpful

Wow, that's an EXCELLENT idea, thanks!

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Anonymous
September 21, 20160 found this helpful

Anxious to try this suggestion. Thanks for sharing.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 26, 20170 found this helpful

Great idea! 

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July 15, 20170 found this helpful

Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

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By 13 found this helpful
June 15, 2009

Those lightweight plastic cups that flowers are sold in - I recycle them by using them for drainage when I transplant the flowers into terra cotta pots. I flatten them somewhat with my foot, and put them in the bottom of the pot. Then I add the soil and the flowers. The flattened trays are much lighter than broken terra cotta pieces for drainage, and it's a savings because less soil is required. For a large, deep pot, I use three or four smashed trays. When I need to move the pots around on my patio, it's easy because they don't weigh a ton. The smashed trays can be used year after year.

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By Carla from Greensboro, NC

Comment Was this helpful? 13
June 15, 20090 found this helpful

What a wonderful idea! I love this!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
June 17, 20090 found this helpful

I love this idea!

In several of his books, Jerry Baker suggests using the plastic caps (from milk, bleach, vinegar, and condiment bottles) that you are not supposed to recycle this way, too. Those caps are great for smaller pots, but your idea would work even better for large pots and planters.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
June 17, 20090 found this helpful

I like to use the styrofoam packing noodles. They seem to add very good drainage.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 30, 20090 found this helpful

You must get a lot of flowers to have enough for every time you transplant! I use rocks at the bottom of my pots. I too have succulents on a big table in my enclosed patio that have to be rotated too. Can you buy those plastic trays?

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August 30, 20090 found this helpful

Carla - that is a great idea, because those flowers pots are really heavy. Thanks again.

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September 1, 20090 found this helpful

I am so glad I read this. I was just going to throw my plastic containers out! Now, instead I know what to do with them! Great idea to use less earth and to get good drainage! Thanks a bunch!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
March 24, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you for such a great idea.

Constance

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By 5 found this helpful
September 3, 2012

My German daughter-in-law showed me a neat trick for planting in pots. She put a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot then we went around the yard picking up little twigs and leaves. She broke the twigs up small to drop in the pots and crushed or tore the leaves. She put about two inches in the pot then put in the potting soil and the plant. There are three benefits from this method:

  1. It helps keep the yard neat.
  2. It will compost in the pot.
  3. The pot will not be so heavy as it is with rocks in the bottom.

I have done this all summer and really like it better than having to wag around a pot full of heavy rocks.

By Elaine from OK

Comment Was this helpful? 5
September 20, 20120 found this helpful

Good idea! Like a mini-composter.

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February 19, 20130 found this helpful

This is a cool idea and I just chopped up my old Christmas tree to use as filler in my pots. However, you want to make sure you have plenty of room for the roots. If they grow too close to the twigs, it could be bad. Decomposing matterial uses up nitrogen during it's decomposition process and this can suck away nutrition from plant roots. If you have enough space though before the plant roots, this will be ok though. If it's a slow rooting plant (will take more than a year for the roots to make it to the decomposing matter), you should also be ok. By then, it will probably be decomposed in most warm to moderate climates (if kept moist).

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August 16, 20140 found this helpful

This is good. I put 'rough stuff' in the bottom of my pots, too. Rather than coffee filters, I cut circles of landscape material to place in the bottom of the pots. I have some that has been in place for twenty years and show no signs of deteriorating.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 16, 20140 found this helpful

Looks like this is an old post since the comments are years old. But I am glad that it has been run again! I've never thought of putting twigs and things in a pot. Love this idea and plan to use it.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 17, 20140 found this helpful

Wonderful idea... I will be doing that from now on!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

October 15, 2014

If you have a pecan tree, or if you buy pecans in the shell during the holidays, you can put those shells to good use.

Some of us have houseplants such as Ficus, Dieffenbachia and others, that might remain in the same pot for years. Providing proper drainage is essential to the health of these plants.

Cracked pecan shells are light weight and will last for many years when used as a drainage medium in potted plants.

When repotting a plant or potting a new one, I add a layer of pecan shell pieces (an inch or two, or more, depending on the size of the pot), to the bottom of the pot before adding soil or other medium.

Another tip: Several people have suggested using coffee filters for lining the bottom of pots to keep soil from leaching out. This could be good for an African violet or other small plant. For a large plant, you will need something else.

So, before I add the pecan shells, I add two layers of nylon mesh landscape fabric which were cut using the top of the pot as a template. You can expect the shells and fabric to last for ten, if not twenty, years.

Comment Was this helpful? 2
Anonymous
April 28, 20160 found this helpful

can put newspaper at bottom and coco pit,dries leaves are fine and keep the pot light weight

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By 2 found this helpful
September 20, 2007

Ideas for fillers for the base of flower pots from the ThriftyFun community. I have used a small pot upside down in some of my bigger planters. I put a smaller pot upside down in the bottom before I fill mine with dirt.

Potted Flower Pots

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August 9, 20051 found this helpful

For indoor gardening, it can be a nuisance to find some pebbles to place over the drainage holes of a plant pot. Use a coffee filter instead.

Comment Was this helpful? 1
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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
May 13, 2017

I have some rather large flower pots and was wondering if I could fill them part way with shredded paper.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 13, 20170 found this helpful

I never have but it looks like some do not recommended it as paper provides not much nutrition.

Reference: http://www.gard  _bet_your_garden

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May 14, 20170 found this helpful

What are you putting in them?

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May 14, 20170 found this helpful

You can. It will decompose.

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May 15, 20170 found this helpful

You can use the plastic pots the plants came in. Put them upside down. I use small sticks, shredded paper, or the foam peanuts that come in packages.

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May 17, 20170 found this helpful

Lots of good suggestions but one thing for sure - if you use any type of styrofoam/peanuts please put them in pantyhose or something similar that you can close up/seal so they will not be a mess when time comes to change the plant or soil.

Here is an excellent link that has several suggestions that might be what you are looking for.

http://www.gard  il-big-pots.html

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
June 1, 2015

What do you do with the Coke cans when you place them in the bottom of the potting containers? Are they crushed or left whole cans?

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
March 30, 20171 found this helpful

Do I rinse coke or beer can before placing in pots for draining and should they be crushed or bent?

Reply Was this helpful? 1

April 2, 20130 found this helpful

I am wondering would I be able to use normal barbecue charcoal to act as drainage in my garden pots?

By Linda

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

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June 15, 20091 found this helpful

I came up with a no cost idea for lightweight fill to use in the bottom of over sized pots or planters. I have used broken terra cotta pots and packing peanuts in the past. Problem was the terra cotta was heavy and I did not usually have packing peanuts.

This year I simply used a plastic gallon size pot that one of the plants came in and turned it upside down over the drainage hole in the bottom of the large pot. Then I needed more filler that would let water through, so I raided my recycling bin. I used plastic soda bottles and cans to fill in up to where I wanted to start the layer of planting soil. To even off the pile of bottles and cans, I took the empty plastic flat the flowers came in and turned it upside down over the bottles and cans. Then I was able to add the soil without it falling between all the gaps left by the bottles and cans. The end result was the right amount of dirt for my plants, plenty of drainage and minimal weight from the fill.

Source: My own idea.

By cosmicmoret from Dallas TX

Answers:

Recycling Ideas For Drainage Fill In Containers

I was thinking of smaller plants and using plastic bottle caps in the bottom. Actually I have been trying to find a use for the plastic caps. (04/20/2009)

By mpotorti

Comment Was this helpful? 1
July 14, 20170 found this helpful

I use pine cones in the bottom of my indoor and outdoor pots. I rinse them first to remove possible spiders, ants or bug eggs. Works for me and costs nothing.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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