Enter the humble toilet roll, an often-discarded household item that’s finding a second life in gardens around the globe. This article delves into the ingenious method of using toilet rolls as biodegradable planters for sweet peas. Not only does this approach minimize plastic use, but it also provides an ideal environment for the delicate roots of sweet peas to thrive. Instead of going out buying sweet pea planting tubes, join us as we help you explore the step-by-step process, benefits, and tips for successfully growing sweet peas in toilet rolls.

Sweet Pea Growth Stages
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Is it True You Can Grow Sweet Peas in Toilet Rolls?

Yes, growing sweet peas in toilet rolls is a popular method among gardeners. The idea is that the cardboard tube of the toilet roll acts as a biodegradable pot, allowing the sweet pea roots to grow long and straight. Once the seedlings are ready to be planted out, the entire toilet roll can be planted into the ground, minimising root disturbance and reducing plastic waste.

You can use kitchen roll inners or even an old wrapping paper tube. However, when going for these options, you should cut them to the size of a standard toilet roll tube.

Why Grow Sweet Peas in Toilet Rolls?

There are loads of benefits to using toilet rolls to grow your sweet peas. You should do it too.

  • Biodegradable Pots: Toilet rolls are biodegradable, which means they will naturally decompose in the soil over time. This reduces the need for plastic pots and promotes a more sustainable gardening approach.
  • Deep Roots: Sweet peas have long taproots. Toilet rolls, being longer than many standard seedling pots, allow these roots to grow deep and straight, which can lead to healthier plants.
  • Minimised Transplant Shock: When it’s time to transplant the sweet peas into the garden, the entire toilet roll can be planted. This minimises root disturbance, which can often lead to transplant shock in young plants.
  • Cost-Effective: Using toilet rolls is an economical way to start seedlings. Instead of purchasing pots, gardeners can repurpose something they already have at home.
  • Promotes Recycling: This method encourages recycling and turning something that might otherwise be thrown away into a useful gardening tool.
  • Good Drainage: The cardboard of toilet rolls is absorbent, which can help prevent over-watering. It wicks away excess moisture, ensuring that the seedlings don’t sit in waterlogged soil.
  • Easy Labelling: Gardeners can write directly on the cardboard, making it easy to label different varieties of sweet peas.
Toilet Roll Tubes Filled with Compost in a Seed Tray
Toilet Roll Tubes Filled with Compost in a Seed Tray

How To Sow Sweet Peas In Toilet Rolls?

Here’s a revised step-by-step guide on sowing sweet peas in toilet rolls indoors during winter, in preparation for spring planting:

What You Need

  • Empty Toilet Rolls
  • Seed Tray
  • Potting Compost
  • Sweet Pea Seeds

1 – Prepare the Toilet Rolls

Stand each toilet roll upright in the seed tray or box. If using kitchen rolls and they are too tall or unstable, you can cut them in half. Ensure they fit snugly next to each other to prevent them from tipping over.

2 – Fill with Compost

Fill each toilet roll with a good-quality potting compost. Ensure the compost is moist but not waterlogged. Press down gently to ensure there are no air pockets but don’t pack it in so much compost that it becomes overly firm. This is vital to allow the roots space to emerge.

3 – Sow the Seeds

Place 1-2 sweet pea seeds on the surface of the compost in each toilet roll. Sowing more than one seed per roll increases the chances of germination. If there are any seeds that are broken or otherwise damaged, these should be discarded since they won’t deliver the desired results. Count out the number you require and then save the rest for another time.

Next, take your finger and push the seeds down into the compost. You should aim to submerge your finger down to the knuckle in order to ensure that the seeds are far enough down. Between four and five centimetres is ideal.

4 – Cover the Seeds

Where the holes remain, you should cover them with compost. This doesn’t need to be tightly packed nor does it need to be a large amount; just enough to cover the holes is more than enough.

5 – Watering

Using a watering can with a fine rose, gently water the seeds. Ensure the compost is moist but not waterlogged.

6 – Labelling

Label each toilet roll with the variety of sweet peas and the sowing date.

7 – Place in a Warm, Light Spot Indoors

Place the seed tray in a warm, light spot indoors, such as a windowsill. The warmth will encourage germination during the winter months. Sweet peas will usually germinate in around 10 days.

8 – Monitor and Water

Check the compost daily to ensure it remains moist. Water gently as needed.

9 – Thinning Out

Once the seedlings have germinated and are large enough to handle (usually when they have two sets of leaves), thin them out to leave only the strongest seedling in each toilet roll.

Seedlings Growing in Toilet Rolls
Seedlings Growing in Toilet Rolls

11 – Hardening Off

Before planting out, the seedlings need to acclimate to outdoor conditions. Start by placing them outside during the day and bringing them in at night. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside over a week or two.

12 – Planting Out

In spring, after the last frost, dig a hole in your garden or container deep enough to accommodate the entire toilet roll. Place the roll in the hole, ensuring the top is level with the soil surface, and cover with soil. The cardboard will decompose naturally.

Note: Sowing sweet peas indoors during winter gives them a head start, allowing for earlier blooms in spring. Ensure they receive adequate light indoors and consider using a grow light if natural light is limited.


Sweet peas are beautifully fragrant and highly attractive plants. Growing sweet peas in toilet roll tubes is a great way to give them a good start to life. This process is simple and quick and after around ten days, you will have plants that are ready to be potted. Furthermore, since the tubes will compost, this is an eco-friendly way to grow these stunning plants.

Tips for Growing Sweet Peas Infographic
Tips for Growing Sweet Peas Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Sow your sweet peas during the late winter so they can be planted out in Spring!”

“Do not overwater when planting as your sweet peas might drown!”

“You can use a heat mat to warm your soil when sowing indoors!”

“Toilet roll tubes will decompose adding brown material to the soil so plant your toilet rolls directly into the ground!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I plant sweet peas?

Sweet peas will do well in a pot or in a hanging basket if they are a dwarf variety. These plants can grow up to 2 metres so using support or a frame will help them to climb. They require a decent amount of sun and well-drained yet moist soil.

What is the best support for sweet peas?

Sweet peas need stable support. A tepee-shaped design made from durable wood such as bamboo is ideal.

Should you sow sweet pea seeds before planting?

There is a lot of speculation that soaking the seeds will soften the shell. However, while some species of plant will benefit from this, sweet peas often don’t need any additional treatment to aid their growth.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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