Gardening is all about choice. You get to choose what you want to grow, how you want to grow and where you want to grow. For apartment dwellers, the choice of place to grow is very limited and that is when containers come for rescue. Ok! now we have pots of all sizes and materials available in the market right? so where is the problem? Why a separate post for that? The problem is in the price! I am not sure about other countries or other states in India but if you are a software engineer in Bangalore, you are already paying 2-3 times the original price of a product. Especially when it comes to containers, the prices are way too expensive and it is not at all justified.

Sometime back, I checked the price of a plastic window sill planter (pic below) and its price is whopping 300 Rs!?.. I mean it was good looking and all.. but seriously 300? I just couldn’t digest the fact.

Priced at Rs 300/- a piece.

MyGarden 804

I started searching for options and found many other alternatives. I found many places in Bangalore where plastic items are disposed and trucks used to collect in loads for recycling. I checked the nearby “Gujiri shops” ( i dont know what it exactly means though), i used to pass by when commuting to work. They had lots of containers with them such as milk crates, supermarket crates. etc.  Shown in the pic below is one such. Measuring 2 feet by 1.5 feet and 9 inches deep, it is the ideal container i can get for growing coriander, palak, lettuce and what not?

Guess how much it cost me? Rs 50 a piece… that is it. There was 4 such tubs and I got all the 4 of them for 200. Now tell me why would one buy for Rs 300.

MyGarden 789

Milk crates like the one below are sold by weight. A kilogram is around 30 Rs

Lettuce is growing happily in it..

MyGarden 796

Also, dust bins are very versatile containers ,though their life is not that great and start breaking after 6 months if you keep in the hot sun. But if you are growing in balcony, it is the best you have got.

Price: Rs 14 a piece. Unbelievable but true. It holds 8 litres of media. If you buy a similar sized pot from a garden shop you will be charged atleast 75 bucks. You can buy these dustbins for the above said price only in few places. Your next door supermarket might sell this to you for Rs 50..atleast mine does. This is for Rs 14 a piece in Avenue Road.a.k.a city market.

I have grown tomatoes, Okra, chillies and am growing cabbages in these bins. Works like a charm and cheap!.

MyGarden 790 


If you are looking for big size containers, paint buckets are your best friend. They come in 20L volume and has a handle too. It might cost you around 50-70rs a piece. This is a fast selling item. Many use it as a bucket.

Tomatoes, Eggplant, Capsicum grow well in 20L buckets and almost all other vegetables can be grown.

MyGarden 793

my latest addition is this tin. I am yet to make holes in this tin because it is so good. It is priced at 70 a piece. 1ft dia and 1.5 foot deep.

MyGarden 785


Last but not the least! Polythene and HDPE bags. The bags in which potato plants are growing came with compost. So they are pretty much free.


The thick polythene bag below holding a eggplant is sold at around 80/- per kg.

MyGarden 629

And if you have the necessary tools, you can convert old PVC pipes into growing machines. We will see about that in one of the future posts.

If you have a fat wallet  then garden shops are your friend. But if you want value for money and don’t mind the looks, then there are so many options. go start searching your neighborhood. Once you find such a place you will never buy those pricey pots.

This list is not exhaustive and remember there are million more options.Creativity is the limit. But please don’t use eggshells and old shoes 😉


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36 Responses

  1. Very nice post. I think it is true worldwide that buying pots is expensive thing. Here too garden pots cost anywhere from $1 for 1gallon to $10. I too use paint buckets, dishwashing powder tubs, buckets from dollar shop. I have kids old plastic portable swimming pool lying around (about 3ft in diameter), planning to fill up with compost soil and use as fancy raised bed. lol. that’s for next year. Very good post, I like idea of growing potatoes in bags, this way no chance of missing tubers that are deep down and ruining it while digging for it.

  2. Nice one. My vote goes to the nursery grow bags. Black is even better. Here they are reasonably cheap when compared to buying paint and food grade buckets. Our nearby nursery sells a 20lt black nursery grow bag for Rand 5 a piece. Where as a 12″ pot sells for Rand 30-40. I also use the 5lt white icecream tubs for growing radish, fenugreek leaves and some herbs. To maintain the visual effect, i arrange some nice pots in the front row. So when i look at my balcony from the lounge, i don;t feel cluttered. 🙂
    You are true about egg shells and old shoes. As far as i am concerned, they are not at all practical.

  3. I have some plants in sacks and it works well. I specially like the fact that we can just keep adding the pot mix as the plant grows.
    Another thing I have just tried is the jute bags which you get from sari shops. The one with two bamboo/wooden rods that act as handles. They are quite sturdy.
    Yesterday I planted some coriander in a basin following your previous post.

  4. Nice post!! Indeed there is a wide range of choices available for containers and probably imagination is the biggest enabler.
    I have been using the 20l bucket (purchased at Rs. 50 a piece) for some time now.
    I generally like the theme of posts in which you concentrate on affordable gardening and disseminate information on ways to achieve it.
    Will you be able to share some lettuce seeds with me ? I have always liked lettuce but didn’t had great success with the seeds bought from DoH. May be under that pretext I can get the opportunity to visit your garden too 🙂

    • Hi Raja,

      Thanks. 20L buckets works like a charm. I feel bad to drill holes in them though ;).
      I will be happy to share lettuce seeds with you. Anytime!.

    • Dear Could you please tell me the source where you purchased the paint dabba? I too want to buy some. Could you pl tell me the phone number if you have.

  5. Hi gg, Raja,

    Ultimately, my coriander seed germinated!!!! I bought a new packet of seeds and this magic happened 🙂 … But this magic also took almost 10 days. I feel that coriander seeds are quite lazy in germination 🙂 :)….


    • Hi Binita,

      Thats a great news. I will go and check it out today. Its kinda close to my office. and congrats on getting coriander germinating..!! they are lazy !

      • Good to know that indeed it is the seeds which are lazy 🙂 I sowed mine more than 3 weeks weeks back – they germinated alright but not growing fast enough. still very tiny leaves (not the true leaves though).

        Good post regarding the containers. As Jayadeep mentioned above, I am also bit uncomfortable with plastic. I find the mud pots are quite reasonable – Rs. 30-50 range, though don’t know the size. I have some big ones and I don’t remember paying more than 50 for any of those. Sources – lalbaugh and pottery town. Bit heavy – but look good too!

        Having said that I do consistently use/plan to use the household throwaways, (including plastic) barely resembling containers for growing – curd containers, washing detergent bags (washed ofcourse – quite sturdy) and the cardboard containers throwaways. Anything that can hold soil for a few months 🙂 Another wonderful “pots” that I once picked up during a visit to cochin, are these sort of baskets made from coir. I have started growing coriander and spinach in them. Since they are made of coir – drainage is also not a problem. Don’t know about the life of these but those were quite cheap as well. May be I can put up a pic somewhere.

  6. Hi gg,
    Yes, that is the shop (Brigade MM) I visited on last Saturday!! I am surprised that you didn’t get any as there were tall cascading lines of big pots (black color – 5/6 sizes) on that day!!
    (And yes, their collection is not consistent as I have visited this shop 2-3 times in 15 days and ve got totally different containers. )


    • @Binita,

      I guess I wasn’t lucky enough to get those cheaper ones. Anyway, when you do see it next time, let me know or buy couple extra.. Would you?
      Thanks for the info.

  7. Hello Geek,
    I loved your blog.. I have just started reading the posts one by one.
    Like you I too am a lazy software engineer from bangalore..have left with only a couple of samll balconies to fulfill my gardening hunger.
    Thanks a lot for your posts, it gives a new perspective for gardening in small place and look like lot of fun..
    I would like to get some more details on from where and how you obtain the raw material for it.
    Please let me if I could drop you a mail to obtain such details.
    Once again very nice blog..loved it

    • Hello Rashmi,

      Thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay. Last two weeks I was very busy with work.
      Balcony gardening is surely a lot of fun. I will send you an email shortly.

  8. hi,
    just to add one more type of container….. here in Chennai a lot of us go in for bubble top containers [ 20 litres ]… our local water supplier is good enough to supply them at Rs 10 a piece ,,and all you have have to do cut of the top… to continue the list , i have used biscuit tins, ice cream containers [ for smaller plants like Portulaca ] and industrial grade carboys [ can even grow a tree in it] which my brother-in-law was kind enough to supply..

    happy gardening…

    • Hi Arundati,

      Thanks for bringing that up. It is by far the easiest available and almost everyone uses it here in Bangalore too. How did I miss it. But 10/- per piece is a great deal. Have fun!.

  9. Lovely blog, with lots of info

    I enjoyed my visit here. I’ve tried planting in water bottles, cement bags, old containers, ghee tins, etc and latest i’ve planted few plants in barrels.

  10. I really love your website coz it is an inspiration for beginner gardeners like me. Especially since not a lot of blogs are available for Indian conditions. I am from Chennai and I really cant understand frost.

    I would like to know how you drill holes in all these various kinds of utensils. And can you just post some photos of where the holes are and how big ? It will be really useful for newbies like me.
    Thanks once again for all these wonderful phots which serve as a step by step guide.
    A picture in this case is really worth a thousand words.


    • Hi Kalpana,

      Thanks and very happy to hear that my website is inspiring lot of people into gardening.

      For drilling holes, I use a drilling machine ( with hole saw cutter tool). I am actually making a video post on how to make drilling holes in these container and set them up for drip irrigation. You can expect it soon.


  11. gg, Nice choice of containers there… I have been picking up pots and its much cheaper when compared with those sold in Lalbagh.

    I would love to have milk crates to grow leafy vegetables. Where did you pick this one from! certainly a very nice catch. I live in BTM Layout, any gujiri shops you know of in the nearby vicinity.

  12. I started my gardening using my son’s milk powder tin dabbas… quite a number i had.. and quite a number of plants i could plant. 🙂

  13. Guys – I am new Terrace gardener please let me know where i can buy the container , i want to buy good one as one time investment particular to use Plastic as it saves weight also where to get the soil and other info


  14. I loved your blog so much. Such a nice explanation. I am a beginner and the blog gave me a great motivation to start gardening. I purchased few mud pots and sowed pudina, tomato. I want to grow Palak, coriander leaves and I think it will be better if I get those milk crates. I stay near CV Raman Nagar and I searched the whole area for old/broken milk crates. Can you let me know where can I get those crates?

  15. I asked some 4-5 shops in Kaggadaspura area Bangalore, itseems they don’t get those crates. If you know any place in Bangalore, it will be helpful.

  16. Hi, I recently started reading ur articles while searching for tomato plants info on net. and let me tell you, its quite addictive..I just keep reading one after one.
    One Question – How can I know that you have post new article, I have given my email id in “by email” option but still do not get any update/info.
    On this article, I do the same, I use dustbins which cost much lesser than pots and you are right they crack in 6 -10 months under sun, but that’s ok..its still cheap.
    One mor ething I do, I keep looking offers on Plastic buckets in Supermarket like Big Bazar, Dmart whenever they have buy 1 get 1 free, I buy buckets for plants. Trust me they look good, and comesin nice colors. I bought 20 litres bucket in 99/- and it was buy 1 get 1, so price was 50 for 1 🙂
    Well, I am from Mumbai, and I do have 2 small Balconies only, no terrace.. Please let me know about the plants which require less sunlight.
    Keep posting, Good Job!

  17. Hi GG,
    Even i am looking for plastic recyled crates near Jayanagar Bangalore..even did a thorough search in gujiri shops but no avail.
    If you come across any please share the details .

    Love your blogs , though i started following it late.


  18. Awesome !! I loved the way you focus on the plants and not the looks.. of course what matters is one’s requirements.. I am more intrested in the plants and hence your cost effective options helped me a lot…You saved lot of work for me of going around and finding out options for my requirements.. I am all up to start with indoor plants.. Thanks for your post..

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