What to fill the bottom of a large pot with to take up some room

debbiep_gwMarch 28, 2006

Hi,what can I put in the bottom of large flower pots besides styrofoam peanuts to take up some room so I don't have to use lots of potting soil.I prefer not to use regualr dirt as it makes the pot lots heavier than potting soil does.I thought about newspaper but what else could be used.Thanks in advance.

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spiderwoman(z6so.cent.PA)

You can use chunks of styrofoam packing material cut up to fit your pots, or another pot turned upside down. Those hard plastic nursery pots are good for that purpose. Newspaper would only get soggy and would soak up enough water that they would add to the weight. What other waterproof light weight materials do you have around the house, garage and garden? Aluminum foil can be crumpled and used, plastic bags of various stuffing materials, like polyester fiberfill if you can seal a plastic container so that it doesn't allow water to get in. You could even use crumpled plastic bags. Brainstorm and you will come up with other ideas.
Good luck.
spiderwoman

1 Like    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 7:37PM
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almostenough(z5 IN)

I've used empty aluminum cans and plastic pop bottles in really big planters.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 6:00PM
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debbiep_gw

It has just occurred to me to use pine cones.Debbie

1 Like    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 11:40AM
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marinewife

I've heard of folks that after trimming their clematis down they put the old vines in the bottome of their pots.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 11:49AM
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iowa50126(z5IA)

I've used those black nursery pots inverted stuffed with plastic grocery bags. I also have used plastic peanuts. I put the peanuts in a plastic kitchen trash bag to make cleanup at the end of the season easier. If you use pine cones I'd also use a plastic bag to hold em and keep the dirt and roots out.

The first year I used the peanuts, I just put them loose in the bottom of the pot and it was real mess when I dumped my pots in November.

In some of my largest pots, I fill the bottom 1/2 with half finished organic material from my winter compost bin. By fall it's finished. However, the soil will settle some over the summer in those pots. So I plant them as high as possible in the spring.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 5:33PM
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sewnmom7

i use crushed pop cans ,thier lite weight & take up space. i used this for 2 yrs.,no problems yet.molly

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 5:26PM
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plays_in_the_dirt(SW Georgia/Z 8)

I put some rocks in the bottom of my pots,works wells helps with drainage too

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 11:28AM
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gw:josette-sc

smashed milk jugs

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 10:50AM
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quiltglo

I tried straw last year since I had a bale sitting around. My plants didn't do well. I think because the decomposing straw sucked too much of the stuff the plants needed to thrive. Really, I should have known better.

Back to packing materials for me.

Gloria

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:20AM
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Tennessee(z7TN)

If you have access to leaf mulch, you might try it. I also mix in vines, dead flower stalks etc. in with the leaf mulch & use it on 1/3 of volume of the planter & then a light soil mixture. I also place some small rocks to lightly cover the bottom to keep the drainage hole open.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 12:24AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I second the empty soda bottles - although I don't crush mine, just put them in whole. I also use upside-down nursery pots in the bottom of the container. If you use styrofoam packing peanuts, definitely don't use them loose but put them in something - like a pantyhose leg - or trust me, you'll wish you had, lol!

:)
Dee

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 8:29PM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

I use pine cones. They make a great soil conditioner after they have broken down some too. When I empty my pots, I always find the roots all wrapped through the pine cones. Not sure what this means, but my plants do well.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 8:38AM
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zozzl(z9 FL)

I'm gonna try empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls. I know they break down eventually but maybe they help hold water. Pat

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 7:18PM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

Pat, I used toilet paper rolls in place of peat pots when starting some annuals this year. I put my peat pots or toilet paper tubes into larger pots and surround everything with potting soil, to help conserve moisture. Anyway, the toilet paper tubes broke down very quickly, much faster than the peat pots. I was still able to separate the plant starts out thought, but the toilet paper tubes were almost gone completely by the time the plants were big enough to move out.
Just wanted to let you know, as eventually might be much faster than you think ;-) But, it's always worth a try. That's the fun of gardening (for me anyway,) getting to try things out and see how they work. No big loss if it doesn't work, and if it does, that's fun!

Jean

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 9:50AM
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zozzl(z9 FL)

I have used them for pots of a sort...got to be a good use for them right:)? Pat

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 10:54PM
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sdrawkcab(7)

aluminum cans upside down to prevent them from fillign with water. also as the plastic nursery pots upside down work well. never tried pinecones but it seems like a good idea.

packing peanuts work well but they will "sour" after a year or two and can begin to smell bad. not going to hurt the plants but not very pleasnt to be out on your porch if it stinks.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 2:25PM
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norbowen1_msn_com

always start with a little gravel so soil doesnt escape the bottom. I am going to do upside down pots and a piece of plywood cut in to a circle with holes cut in it. then wrap the wood in landscape fabric. (this is for BIG pots, 3 foot across, 4 foot high.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 4:07PM
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RedTurtle

I use a plastic pot in a smaller size upside down

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:33PM
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pioneercynthia(5)

I use all sorts of things, with no ill effects. My parents don't have recycling where they are, so I just go through their garbage (they laugh)! I've used empty cans and bottles turned upside down, plastic food trays, empty detergent bottles (with the lids on), you name it.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:28AM
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ga_karen

This is totally off topic....
A good use for paper towel rolls....
When making pie crusts, wrap a towel roll with plastic, roll your crust around it, more plastic wrap & freeze for later use as either top or bottom crust! Thaw before unrolling!

1 Like    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 1:50PM
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leubafr(z8/9)

plastic pop bottles with the screw top attached (don't want water to get into the bottle). Takes up a lot of room and allows for great drainage.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 12:50PM
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LMoon310(8B/9A- border)

I'm scared to use soda cans and bottles because it's so hot where I live. I think the cans would act like little heat conductors since they're metal, and the bottles would melt plastic at a small slow rate. I found a bunch of old ceramic tiles and break those up and mix it with rocks.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 10:47PM
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mlance

I use empty milk jugs with the lids on so they don't crush or hold water.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 12:18AM
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tn_gardening

I read one of those Container Gardener Bible books and he says to not put anything in the containers to take up space. His thought is that plants in containers need all the growing material and water holding material they can get (bigger is better).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 4:47PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

I saw a neat idea on some nursery website the other day..this designer was giving a class on container gardening and he took a plastic colander, turned upside down and it fit perfect for the container he was demonstrating with. It has drainage holes already but it would take up less potting mix with that in there. I thought it was a neat idea. Go to $ store if you don't have one..I've turned those black nursery pots upside down, I've put in a 3 lb. coffee can(but that rust and breaks down I found)I've also used water bottles. If you use milk jugs, do you poke drainage holes in them? I made a mistake of using the peanuts one time without putting them inside a plastic bag and like the one person said...what a mess the next year! Never used them again, but I never thought to put them inside a plastic bag. Wouldn't pine cones break down, like mulch?

1 Like    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 6:31PM
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rmontcal

I'm a bit concerned about all of the plastic & styrofoam that people are putting in their pots. I realize that this isn't necessarily an organic forum, but people should be wary of plastic in any form, anywhere.

I have one huge pot that I had put a lot of shredded paper in the bottom of, but the soil level has dropped by several inches over the past 3 years or so. It is either compacting from water or decomposing or both.

I like the suggestions of either organic materials (pine cones - although beware of what I mentioned above) or inert materials like glass, metal or ceramics.

I realize that weight is an issue for some people, but I will continue to use shovelfuls of clay soil in the bottom. Position the empty pot first, then fill it.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Warez1_hotmail_com

What is your concern with plastic?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 10:23AM
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kimmi11

You can use chunks of styrofoam packing material cut up to fit your pots, or another pot turned upside down. Those hard plastic nursery pots are good for that purpose. Newspaper would only get soggy and would soak up enough water that they would add to the weight. What other waterproof light weight materials do you have around the house, garage and garden?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 3:03AM
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Irishgal2(7)

I've used small limbs and even larger pieces of wood in the bottom of large pots. The weight helps keep my pots from blowing over in our Oklahoma wind, and the wood eventually breaks down and turns into compost (or something similar). It helps to retain water during dry spells, and my plants love it. We always have a pile of limbs to be disposed of, so I have a constant supply.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 9:45PM
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KatyaKatya(6)

I use pieces of pine bark I pick up in the woods. It is very sad actually, our pines are dying around here. So you see dead trunks with piles of bark around them. I like to carve or whittle with chunks of pine bark - very easy, I used to do it when I was a child and my children do it. At the bottom of a pot, it is lightweight and doesn't rot still is natural, plant-friendly and does not stink of course.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 7:23PM
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bawlmorehon(7)

I saw in a DIY magazine to use plastic shopping bags. They claimed they would take up space but kept the pot light to carry.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 10:57PM
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