How to Germinate Seeds in Cardboard Tubes

by balconyboss
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seeds germinating in cardboard tubes
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When it comes to germinating seeds, sometimes it’s best to do it in cardboard tubes. It’s a particularly useful method if you don’t have (or don’t want to buy) seedling trays.

For the most part, it’s a simple process. Even so, we’ll go through a step-by-step guide below.

What is Seed Germination?

Seed germination is simply the process of turning something from a seed into a baby plant. If nothing else, seeds need moisture to germinate, as you don’t even need sunlight or soil.

Why is it Important?

Depending on what you plan to grow, buying seeds is often a better option. This is mainly true for edible crops, although some decorative plants can be germinated.

Germinating them yourself means you can decide when to do so, and means you can get more plants for your money. In most places, a pack of seeds is equal to (or cheaper than) a single young plant.

Different Methods of Germinating Seeds

To germinate seeds we can:

  • Sow directly into soil
  • Use seedling trays
  • Use moist paper towels
  • Use eggshells
  • Use cardboard tubes

How to Germinate Seeds in Cardboard Tubes

The main reason you should germinate seeds in cardboard tubes is that it saves disturbing delicate seedlings. If you germinate in a seedling tray, you then need to transfer the seedling to its main pot. Some plants (such as cucumbers and melons) don’t like this and will often die.

We use cardboard tubes because they decompose, meaning you can plant the whole thing in the soil. Over time, the tube rots away, allowing the plant’s roots to grow properly.

Also, it allows you to germinate your seeds indoors when the weather is cold. For example, if you’re growing vegetables on an apartment balcony, you can begin the seeds indoors and then plant them outside when the weather warms.


The first thing you’ll need is a cardboard tube. Any will do fine, but thinner ones are better. A tube from a roll of paper towels or toilet paper is perfect.

Of course, you’ll need some potting soil and seeds, too.


To germinate seeds in cardboard tubes, follow these steps:

1.    Take your cardboard tube and make a series of cuts at one end. They should be about 1” deep and 0.5” apart.

2.    Fold these toward the roll’s center to form the bottom of your pot.

3.    Place on a tray or plate. You can tie a few together for support if they’re not standing up properly.

4.    Fill loosely with soil, water a little, and plant the seeds.

5.    To plant seeds, poke a hole about an inch deep with a pencil and drop a few in. Recover with soil.

6.    Place on a windowsill to germinate.

7.    Once the seedlings are ready, simply pot the whole thing into new soil. The tube will rot away over time.

Final Thoughts

Germinating seeds in cardboard tubes is super easy and helps protect delicate plants. However, you could do it for any seedlings, as it makes the transferring process much smoother.