Biodegradable Flower Pots Out of Coffee Grounds!





Introduction: Biodegradable Flower Pots Out of Coffee Grounds!

Did you know coffee grounds still have a lot of good uses after they've been used?

In this instructable we'll make a flower pot that is completely biodegradable.
This means that you can put the plant with the pot in the ground when the plant has withered.
It is biodegradable because the base materials are water, flour and coffee grounds (a good compost material).

These pots are easy and fun to make and are ideal for kitchen herbs that can later on be planted in your garden.

- Create your own pot shape (Step 4)
- Add your own logo (Step 5)

This instructable is part of a system called Coffee Cycle:
Bike pannier (front & rear)
Coffee grounds collector
Burlap sack for bicycle basket

Tell me more about the Coffee Cycle project!

Step 1: Materials

Materials for one flower pot:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of coffee grounds
- 1/2 cup of water
- Biodegradable flower pot
- Plastic container

Optional for a logo:
- Balsa wood
- Carving knife

Step 2: Mix the Coffee & Flour

Add one cup of flour and one cup of coffee grounds to a container.
Stir well until you become a light-brownish even mixture. 

Step 3: Add Water

Add water in small amounts to the mixture. Stir well each time. The end result should have a muddy texture.

Step 4: Coat the Flower Pot

Coat the biodegradable pot with the mixture. Make sure you leave no gaps and the mixture is spread even all the way around.
Flatten the top (the pots bottom) so the pot wont be able to tip over.

TIP: Instead of using a biodegradable pot, you can also use an existing pot or create your own pot (create a mould out of clay or plaster).
You will need to remove the existing pot / mould after baking to maintain the biodegradable aspect.

Step 5: Design Your Own Logo (Optional)

Draw your logo on a piece of paper and cut it out. Transfer it on the balsa wood (or choose an other material) by pencil or just carve around your paper drawing. Sand of the rough edges that might be left over.
Place the balsa logo on your flower pot and press gently.

Step 6: Bake!

Your environmentally friendly flower pot is now ready for the oven!
Bake the pot for 40 minutes at 120 degrees Celcius (or 248 degrees Fahrenheit).

The end result should be sturdy and is pretty water resistant.
Incase you want a full water resistance, you can apply a biodegradable varnish layer on the inside.

This instructable is part of a system called Coffee Cycle:
Bike pannier (front & rear)
Coffee grounds collector
Burlap sack for bicycle basket

Tell me more about the Coffee Cycle project!



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    If you used egg white as a binder would that make it more water resistant?

    I'm getting the mold as another poster has. Has anyone sorted this? If I bake it a bit more & it dries better it might keep mold off but then what happens when they are used & the plant is watered?

    So if I don't want to use another biodegradable pot, then I just get a mold (another flower pot) and put the mixture inside, then let it dry, take it out and bake it?

    1 reply

    I thought u baked it & then let it cool. Does it work well your way?

    this is an amazing way to re use coffee, I have made the pots, but can you please tell me what do I need to do to stop the pots from going mouldy. After I plant them out and water them, a few days later white mould starts to grow on and in the pot.

    1 reply

    I've had the same problem. Have u worked out a solution by chance?

    Did you make a hole in the bottom for drainage????

    It would be fantastic, if you could help me understand why the 40/40/20 (2:2:1) mixture of grounds, flour and water. Would you have suggestions on why a muddy texture rather than a clay like texture? After they've been baked, what's a safe limit on the volume of water before they return to mud? Do you have suggestions for the thickness of the mixture prior to baking?

    I can definitely see doing this with a glazed pot as a mould to make separation easier. I, like others, would think the purpose was to not invest in manufactured biodegradable pots that, although not very attractive nor necessarily sustainably produced, serve their functions well. The idea of using one of those as the inner liner not to be removed seems slightly wasteful.

    2 replies

    I wrote muddy texture because this sticks better to the biodegradable pot. You could also add less water and work with a more clay-like texture if the mould you are working with allows it.

    If you give your plant a fair amount of water the pot will absorb it and will become flexible. You can let it dry afterwards and it will return to normal. But if you want to water your plants a lot we advise you to work with a biodegradable varnish.

    We worked with a thickness of 6-8mm if I remember correctly.

    The idea for these pots was to use them for plants (herbs) that you keep 1-2 weeks inside your house. Afterwards you can plant your herbs with the pot in your garden or throw them in your compost bin.

    Thank you so much for your reply. I am hopeful that 1 to 1.25cm thickness of the finer textured mixture might produce a standalone pot that could take a seed through germination to about 6cm height for transplanting outside OR host an indoor kitchen herb garden for a few moons without breaking down.

    Due to the time, materials, and energy involved, I must be adamant that it's more sound to spend a few coins more for the larger readily available biodegradable pots than to use this for making the smaller cheaper ones to become prettier or larger. That said, I consider part of your goal in posting this is minimizing environmental impact, and using a reusable mould in place of the biodegradable core should be paramount to that effect.

    I believe this to be a wonderful concept and look forward to implementing. Thank you for sharing the ideas, I think what you're doing is great.

    nice 'ible. need to make a solar oven so i can make a big pot (like 2-3ft across ) think it'll work for one that big? i know it's designed to be recyclable/biodegradable, but how long you think it will hold up? more than a season or 2?

    4 replies

    also need to play with the consistency to see if i can turn it on a poets wheel... that'd be cool. recycled, biodegradable, "clay "

    sorry, "Potter's" wheel...

    I think it would work on a Potter's wheel if you use an inside mould. I also think this mix wont stand on its own without an inner support before it is baked (it will collapse). You could indeed experiment with other doses of flour and grounds.

    Maybe mix grounds with clay?

    Please post your findings if you are experimenting with it, I'm interested in the results!

    You could probably take a pyrex glass, like a measuring cup, and use it as a mold for baking. You wouldn't get many done at a time, but it could work.

    If you are already using a biodegradable pot to paste the mixture to, why would you want to paste to something already biodegradable or did I miss a step where you remove the inside pot to use as a mold again?

    1 reply

    Thank you for getting back to me. Although I still agree with Jmnyquist. It is wasteful and I didn't think it looked very nice with the mixture smeared on it. If you don't like the way the biodegradable pots looked you could have decorated them with paints or markers. They also come in biodegradable options and it isn't wasteful. But nice tute for a removable mold, now that I would do even if it didn't look nicer. Sorry

    2 replies

    Hi sbrown9578,

    This is an example of a pot made without a biodegradable structure inside and with a mould. As you can see the outside texture is completly smooth.

    The biodegradable structure on the inside is not a necessity, it was just used to create a more 'natural' effect instead of a smooth outside surface.

    I hope this answers your question.
    Thanks for your comment.


    When we explained to our teachers (it was a school projector 2 weeks ) why we preferred to use those pots in stead of mould they did agree with us. The restaurants we visited liked the texture,look. The pots won't last weeks, months so our design , exterior of the pot give the right feedback to costumers; That it won't last forever (that's way we preffered maken the pots like this instead of using a mould and having a cleaner exterior/ using an mould for the inside is very difficult to remove). The pot are also stiffer, beter water resisting using the biodegradable pots but maybe if we had more time for the project we could have found a better receipt... By using the coffee ground on the outside of the pot you can smell coffee, those flowerpot were given to the restaurants who participated to the coffee cycle by giving used coffee grounds. Another picture of a flowerpot in a mould

    You don't need to say sorry any remark is a good one :)