Introduction: Eggshell Seed Starters

Picture of Eggshell Seed Starters

These biodegradable eggshell planters are perfect for starting seeds!

When the plants get too big for the shells, you can transplant them straight to the soil, shell and all.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need

Egg carton
Potting soil & spoon
Awl/needle/pin - anything long and sharp

Pot & stove
Spray bottle
Egg cups/miniature clay pots for display

Step 2: Prepare the Eggshells

Picture of Prepare the Eggshells

If you eat eggs, then save the eggshells when you use them. If you don't eat eggs, ask a friend to save the shells and carton for you.

1. Carefully crack the top third of the egg. You can do this by tapping the egg on the edge of a bowl, or tapping with a sharp knife.

2. Empty out the eggshells completely.

3. Wash the eggshells out well.

Optional step: If you are concerned about salmonella on the eggshells, put the empty eggshells in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes.

Step 3: Add Drainage

Picture of Add Drainage

Take the empty eggshell, and poke a hole in the very bottom with your sharp object. If you are using a thin needle or pin, widen the hole a bit with a pushpin or small nail.

This hole provides drainage, so the roots of your plant don't drown. You only need to poke one small hole; more than one might crack the shell.

Step 4: Add Potting Soil

Picture of Add Potting Soil

Using a small spoon, fill the eggshell with moist potting soil.

Optional: If the potting soil is dry, spray it with water from a spray bottle as you fill the eggshell.

Step 5: Add Seeds

Picture of Add Seeds

Think about the amount of light you have available in your home and garden, and use seeds that will thrive in these conditions. Plant your seeds according to directions. The seed package will tell you how deep to plant the seeds, or can find this information online.

If you want quick results, try beans or cucumbers - they usually sprout in a few days.For bonus points, use seeds that you saved from last year's crop instead of buying seeds. Oh my goodness, seeds are AMAZING!

Step 6: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Display your green treasures!

Carton: After you have planted the seeds, you can simply put the eggshell planters back into the carton. The carton provides a stable base with room for drainage, is freecycled and looks cute.

Clay pots: You can get miniature clay pots, or use eggcups to display the planters.

Mini Greenhouse: If you want to keep your seedlings extra snug and promote faster growth, you can make them a greenhouse out of a pop bottle.

Step 7: Care for Your Plants

Picture of Care for Your Plants

Put your completed planters in a sunny spot, and mist them daily with water so that the soil stays moist. For easier care, you can build a simple greenhouse out of a plastic bottle. I did this with mine and it worked amazingly well.

When the plants grow too big for the shells, gently crack the shells and plant them straight into the garden or a bigger pot. The shell will eventually biodegrade, and the roots will grow out of the shell. The shell also supplements the calcium in the soil.


AprilR36 (author)2016-05-20

That would be perfect for the hatched eggs coming out of the incubator! Most come out with just a cap off the egg like they show here.

Mihsin (author)2015-03-17

In good many cases comments and replys drag on to deviate from the main subject.

shantr0n (author)2009-05-18

D'you think one could use hard-boiled eggs for this? Or does it not matter?

Awesome instructable -I'm definitely doin' it when I get back from a trip so I can have my own li'l herb garden =)

Lady Dawn (author)shantr0n2011-04-04

I think hard boiled eggs would be way easier. You can cut off the top and spoon it out. It's hard to break a raw egg in the right way. It also eliminates the salmonella threat.

And before planting you can easily crack the bottomside of the shell by tapping it on the ground and roots will have no problems breaking through.

I like this idea. :D

Hebinho (author)Lady Dawn2011-04-04

I'm using the cardboard packaging directly and have good results!

When having reached the right size, the cardboard sections are cut into separate "pots" and planted "as is".

Roots are getting through the material apparently without any great efforts.

Mihsin (author)Hebinho2015-03-17

The main idea here is not gardening, however, to use the egge shells before throwing them away.

millardjk (author)shantr0n2010-01-16

I suspect that it would be very difficult to remove the shell in a sufficiently intact fashion from a hard-boiled egg.

brian3140 (author)millardjk2010-03-20

no it think the idea was to use the egg as a growth medium. that'd bee sick. ima try it

ac-dc (author)brian31402011-04-03

rotting egg bacteria and mold would destroy the plant... they can resist some but not that much

ragestarshine (author)2014-05-06

This is a great way to re-use dyed Easter eggs and to get kids into gardening #win!

ve2vfd (author)2009-03-06

You can also sprinkle broken eggshell on the soil around your plants to prevent slugs from destroying them. Slugs dislike eggshell fragments.

kansasblazer (author)ve2vfd2013-05-02

It's also good for adding calcium to the soil.

AbstractDragon (author)ve2vfd2011-04-03

Fine sand is better for that.

ac-dc (author)AbstractDragon2011-04-03

leftover beer (in a lid) works too, seems they like it as much as people do and drown to death

andrej (author)ac-dc2011-04-05

leftover beer? there should not be such thing as leftover beer! ;o)

ac-dc (author)andrej2011-06-12

Well said, but that last sip in the bottom of the bottle or can is getting warm and is starting to get flat, I'll let the slugs have it and open a fresh cold one instead.

Lei_Kei (author)2012-02-22

This is such a cute idea! I will definitely have to try it as spring comes along.

bajablue (author)2012-01-08

I love this method and have used in countless times.

But, don't forget to crack and peel away the bottom of the eggshell so the roots can spread out.

Great Ible!

velacreations (author)2011-04-10

Why don't you try it without the container? Soil Blocks are easy and work really well:

cheese10 (author)2009-05-28

These look great! I can't wait to make them! One question though: How do you know when they are to big for the eggs? When do you switch them to a bigger planter? Thanks!

hsahrc (author)cheese102011-04-07

How about a good old Ostrich egg? Then they can grow for about 6 months!!! Just joking!

choval (author)cheese102010-01-28

 You could use duck eggs, they are a bit bigger. (chinatown usually has)

and7barton (author)cheese102009-09-10

Just get a bigger chicken.

A good name (author)and7barton2009-12-27
redbandita (author)2011-04-07

I love the idea! Finally something to do with egg shells rather than throwing them away.
It's nearly easter, so my recommendation is:

Prop the egg shells on a decorative paper ring, just put some moist cotton wool into the egg and use cress seeds. This makes a great decoration for your easter sunday breakfast and if you time it right, everyone can cut the cress from their egg and eat it straight on their buttered sandwich. De-lish!

greenkira (author)2010-11-09

I tried this, and the first night I left the seedlings outside to harden off, raccoons went through the flat of them and destroyed most of the seedlings. Raccoons like the scent of eggs. One or two surviving seedlings did get planted out eventually, and they got dug up. Also, I found the seedlings in egg shells just dried out too quickly - it was hard to quickly and adequately water the seedlings in eggshells, and the cardboard packaging wicked away moisture too quickly. I had a similar problem with the experimental newspaper pots and jiffy peat pots - Minneapolis gets hot fast in the spring.

In a greenhouse it might work better, or if there's not chance of raccoons getting at your seedlings, but after that one try I went back to just composting egg shells.

It might make a nice project with kids and marigolds, though, inside a school setting.

Steelsmith1 (author)greenkira2011-04-03

I agree. Years ago I planted using egg shells. I punctured some little holes for drainage. But raccoons and opossums dug up everything. I ended up having to replant everything, and some of the seedlings were damaged beyond recuperation. Skunks will also dig up anything with egg shells. Perhaps in a suburban area or urban area it would work OK.. At the time we had about 100 chickens and it seemed like a good idea. By the way, if you roast egg shells you can feed them back to chickens for calcium without them cannibalizing their eggs.

Even urban/suburban areas are not safe from skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, and other critters. I live in a small town, and there are skunks all over the place, right in the heart of the downtown area! They'll go right up on to your porch if you leave garbage or food out overnight.

ac-dc (author)2011-04-03

Might I suggest that even though the roots can push through cracks in a broken shell, it will still impede root growth. You'd be better off using a bit larger regular pots and taking the shells and finely pulverizing them before sprinkling into the hole you transplant your seedlings into, if not adding the shell fragments ahead of time so they have a head start degrading into the soil.

theelectrifier (author)2009-06-18

you should really sprout seeds in a deeper container. if the main root it stopped from travelling straight downwards it will stunt the plants growth. very cute though

ac-dc (author)theelectrifier2011-04-03

I agree although it depends on where you're planting them, how big they need to get to survive their new home. Some plants don't need or have a main root that grows straight down either.

Problem is, if starting a lot of plants at a time and trying to get a lot of growth before planting outdoors, ideally large pots/etc can take up a LOT of space and you'll need all that much more light to cover the larger area. Recently I've been using 3" peat pots and that seems the best tradeoff for my needs though with peat pots you usually need to treat for mold growth at first if they are covered to keep moisture high... something like a 1:10 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water spray is handy, cheap, and effective.

tincanz (author)2009-05-30

awesome 4.5* what would happen if you used a coconut shell? would it be to strong and thick?

AbstractDragon (author)tincanz2011-04-03

Much too strong. You can carve really nice pendants out of coconut shell though....

oaberaldo (author)2011-04-03

Great idea. My doughter Maria Tereza uses this method for many years ago.
She was used to start many types of seeds.

Groover (author)2011-04-03

This would be a great way to make seed bombs. Something like this in a nicer package. :)

NightElectric (author)2011-02-22

Wow this would be great idea for plants that require lime in the soil. Brilliant!

ahmad2117 (author)2010-08-28

heres a way i think will be a good way to transplant cucumbers since there not really good at transplanting crack the egg when its over the place you whant to put it in then transplant the cucmber seedling AND REMEMBER TO WATER IT RIGHT AFTER YOU TRANSPLANT IT. thanks

liz03 (author)2010-04-10

Wow, this would make a great kid project!! will def try this with mine. :()

mamakatfrog (author)2010-04-08

 I should have checked here.  I did this.  My first batch I didn't think about drainage so ended up jabbing a chopstick down to crack the bottom of the shell.  If you ant to laugh at my attempt, I blogged it.

brian3140 (author)2010-03-20

this is perfect for tomatoes because they require a high amount of calcium to prevent blossom end rot. you could crush the shell when you plant it.

hypnostics (author)2009-08-26

thanks for this! :)

sleeepy2 (author)2009-06-11

Eggshells also help prevent blossom end-rot in tomatoes. But, you should use about 12 crushed eggshells per tomato plant. Great idea!

jaredsalzano (author)2009-06-05

NOOO! this is exactly what i was going to submit for the get in the garden contest!

NaturalCulture (author)2009-05-31

Thanks everyone for your comments! I'd love to see photos.

shantr0n: It doesn't matter if you use hard-boiled eggshells, as long as you can get the egg out without breaking the shell.

thunderstruck: They are biodegradable, but they can take quite a while to fully degrade.

RoBear: You could also use the egg carton. I just think the plants look nicer coming out of the eggshells.

cheese: I would repot them as soon as they are strong enough to be moved, which depends on the particular type of plant. Check out this helpful blog post about transplanting seedlings and 'seed leaves' vs 'true leaves': Good luck!

tincanz: I have never tried it, but i think a coconut shell might make a nice planter (you might need to drill some holes for drainage). I'm not sure about starting seeds in it, because the roots might not be able to break through the bottom. Let me know if you try it!

RoBear613 (author)2009-05-25

Why not just use the egg carton?

thunderstruck7 (author)2009-05-22

aren't egg shells non biodegradable?

NachoMahma (author)2009-03-06

. Great iBle! . Will an accumulation of eggshells in your garden do any harm or do they degrade "gracefully"?

mikeasaurus (author)NachoMahma2009-03-06

Eggshells are biodegradable, unless there's still yolk inside in which case the heat from the soil acts as an incubator and the egg will hatch a zombie-chick, which as we all know are only destroyed by bubbles and little girl giggles.

wow: you are sick and waaaaay funny

Thanks! It's my first instructable. The eggshells should be good for your garden - they have lots of calcium in them. They may take a long time to fully biodegrade, though.

About This Instructable




More by NaturalCulture:Bottle GardenPop Bottle GreenhouseEggshell Seed Starters
Add instructable to: