Filler Ideas for Potted Plants

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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 page about filler ides for potted plants.


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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).

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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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.

By carla from Greensboro, NC

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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.

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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.

view down into pot with cloth and shells

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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, 2005

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.

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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.

May 13, 2017

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


May 13, 20170 found this helpful

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



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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, 20173 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.

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August 6, 20170 found this helpful


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June 14, 20180 found this helpful

Be careful with foam peanuts as many of these are biodegradable and will disappear.

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April 14, 20190 found this helpful

Unfortunately, most do NOT decompose which makes this a great way to repurpose them!

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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?


March 30, 20172 found this helpful

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

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April 2, 2013

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

By Linda

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August 3, 2017

To save money on filler dirt for you potted plants, use plastic bottles to fill up the extra space. This is a page about filling planters with plastic bottles.

Place Empty Bottles in Garden Pot - planter with plastic bottles in bottom

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April 9, 2019

Large planters can be very heavy if filled with soil and drainage rocks. Reuse dense styrofoam to fill the bottom instead. This is a page about using styrofoam in plant containers.

Styrofoam in plant pot

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October 2, 2018

This is a page about diapers for potted plants. A disposable diaper at the bottom of a pot can help hold in dirt and moisture.

Stack of disposable diapers.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 15, 2009

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.

By cosmicmoret from Dallas TX


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 marian m potorti

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