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Picture of Convert old CD packaging into a flower pot
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Save those empty CD drums from the landfill or recycling plant. With just a few holes for drainage and evaporation they can be stacked to become a stylish new planter.
 
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Step 1: Collect everything you need

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This project is so simple I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. Of course you can recycle your CD spindles but even recycling causes pollution (transporting the recyclables and reprocessing them generally isn't clean). It's much better to re-use than to recycle. This project is great because not only do you find a new use for a waste product but you get to grow a plant which cleans your air. Its the project that keeps on giving!

What you need:
-Potting soil or dirt
-A plant
-Water
-2 empty CD packages (the top drum part that goes over the spindle of CD's)
-Something to poke holes
***Safety Warning*** The first time I used a punch tool from a leatherman but that can be dangerous since you will be poking holes in a slippery rounded surface. I would recommend a drill or Dremel type rotary tool. You could also melt holes into the plastic with a hot nail or soldering iron. Kids get your parents permission!

Optional:
- Paint, fabric, glitter, glue, or anything else you might want to decorate it with.

Cost: Hopefully Free!
Use your old CD packaging. If you don't have any, check your workplace. If they don't have any think about places where they burn a lot of CDs and DVDs. Ask at your local PC repair shop, internet cafe, or photocopy store.

Step 2: Make holes in the top pot

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Make several holes (at least 6) in the bottom of the top pot. This will be the pot that holds your plant. I used a Dremel with a 1/8" drill bit. The holes allow the excess water to drain out of the bottom so you don't get root rot.

Step 3: Make holes in the lower pot

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The excess water from the top pot has to go somewhere and you probably don't want it on the floor. Turn the CD drum upside down so it is like a bowl. Make 4 holes in the lower pot on the sides about a half inch (2cm for the rest of the world) from the bottom. Space them out around the circumference.

Step 4: Put the pots together

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Stick the top pot (the one with the holes in the bottom) into the lower pot (the one with the holes on the sides. They should stick together fairly well without any glue or adhesive. In fact I've made several that I can't pull apart. Make sure you leave about and inch of space in the bottom for the water to drain into. Now you have a top pot that will drain into the lower pot. The water in the lower pot will evaporate up through the plant and out of the holes on the sides.

Step 5: Optional: Decorate your pot

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I prefer the "au naturale" look for my pots. I like to see how they work and people always comment on how cool it is that I re-used the CD Cases. It's cool to be green these days. Of course, it is easy to paint or otherwise decorate. In this case I spruced up the pot with our recycling robot buddy. If you make a pot and decorate it, please post a picture in the comments. I'd love to see it!

Step 6: Pot your plant

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Fill your pot with soil and make a hole in the center with your finger. Push your plant into the hole and press the dirt around it to secure your plant.

Step 7: Water and Enjoy!

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Water your plant. If you left your planter nude like I usually do then you should see water dripping into your lower container. If the lower container fills up and water leaks out the side holes then you are over-watering you plant. Try giving it less water but often enough to keep the soil moist. Sit back and enjoy your handiwork.
viztnd1 year ago
If you put some string or twine from the bottom throught the "pot" and down again, the twine will suck back the excess water and nutrients back into the soil. You'll actually make it a self-watering pot.
great idea, but there is a reason that store bought pots are opaque (not transparent), basically plant roots do NOT like exposure to sunlight, so maybe paint the outside or wrap in black plastic.
gate (author)  mandy_modded7 years ago
Wow, that's good to know! I'll start painting my pots. Thanks.
Dr Qui gate3 years ago
I have few of these tall spindle covers that i was thinking of using as pots, but I too was worried about the roots getting damaged by light.

I had thought of the painting idea or covering them with paper or something. how did you fair out with the painting? what did you use or try and how did you fair out?

I have just made a dozen pots from Pot Noodle pots they are a nice black UV resistant pot just the right size for a flower pot. I found a diamond tipped pointed dremel tool was good for making the holes.

I will most likely use them as water catchers in the end with the pot noodle pots or some store bought pots which ever is the better fit.
Plant roots have absolutely no problem with sunlight. I've been growing plants hydroponically in glass jars for years. One potential issue is competition from algae, which shouldn't be a problem here.
Jent134 years ago
I grow my pothos in water or in the crystal soil (little beads that soak up water and waters the plant).
i would make the holes, stick a clean cloth in the hole fill, and the bottom drum with water. the cloth soakes up the water so you don't need to worry about forgeting to water the plant.
I was thinking the same as I read the instructable. I grow African Violets in 2 piece pots that use a piece of cloth to wick the water up to the plant. You can use just about any kind of thick string or fabric for wicking. You can water from top, excess water going into bottom trap, wick pulls it right back up. If bottom trap is empty, time to water!
passerby066 years ago
The ideal watering schedule will wet the soil just enough to keep it moist w/o having any drain into the lower chamber. In the real world, which we all inhabit, ( well, most of us, anyway ) there will almost always be excess in the lower chamber. This water will have flushed some nutrients out of the soil, so it would be a good idea to sometimes pour that nutrient-rich water back into the growing pot. ( Assuming, of course, that you're be able to separate them. )
bben466 years ago
Just saw this one. And at the same time, a freshly emptied CD spindle. My drill was still on the kitchen table from my own project, so 4 quick holes and a new potted Golden Pothos still in the cheap nursery pot. As I only had the one Cd case, I put it in an old plastic plate. Literally a 5 minute project. Thanks
ArpitM6 years ago
Nice Use of case but Asians & Africans pl. dont use this as U can even kill ur loving plant.

Because Plastic pots are never recommended by planters as they generate lot of heat.

sorry dear GATE for this comment but to make users aware about the -ve is also +ve.
gate (author)  ArpitM6 years ago
I think you make a good point. I am only using these indoors. They might get very hot outside, especially if you live in a warm climate. I live in Chicago and my plants have been thriving in mine. Thanks for the info.
you have no idea how applicable this is to me right now. i have quite a few drums sitting around and i haven't had the heart to throw them away. it never would have occurred to me to put of them together to catch water. SUPER!
Thanks for a great instructable. This is so practical. You are recycling both the plastic CD cases and the water since the excess water in the bottom evporates providing additional humidity (a good thing) to the plant above. I am impressed.
heydavis7 years ago
It's not that plant roots can't stand sunlight, it's that they simply get literally sunburned, literally, just as your skin might. Hydroponic roots are protected from sunburn and overheating by the surrounding water. Opaque & thicker pots prevent this and help keep the soil from overheating. Many folks consider the exposed bare soil to be unsightly, thus use decorative pots to enhance and complement the room or porch decor.
Very nice instructable! I love being able to see the dirt through the cd holder.
chuckr447 years ago
Neat. I have used these CD stack tops to organize parts in my garage, and to hatch triops and fairy shrimp. Triops are freshwater inverts that like small tanks.
mh847 years ago
Wow! it's a nice project for me, i'll try it!