Fillers reduce the weight in heavy planters.

How to Use Empty Soda Cans or Peanuts in Large Planter Pots

by Jenny Harrington

A large planter filled with bright spring or summer flowers can brighten up a bland area of your home landscape, but the soil needed to fill these striking containers can leave your pocketbook empty. Soil is also heavy, making it difficult to move the planters to a new location. Most plants only send out roots into the top 10 to 12 inches of soil. Partially filling a large pot with packing peanuts or old cans saves cash, reduces weight and helps the soil drain to avoid root rot and disease.

Set the large planter in the desired growing location. Select a location that receives the amount of light necessary for the plant varieties you are growing.

Fill the bottom one-third of the planter with non-biodegradable foam packing peanuts or crushed aluminum cans. Alternatively, set the cans in the planter uncrushed but upside down so soil doesn't fall into the openings. Arrange the cans so they don't cover the drainage hole.

Add potting soil to the planter. Some of the potting mix will fall into the filler layer and fill the gaps between the foam peanuts or cans. Fill the planter to within 2 to 3 inches of the rim.

Water the potting soil until the excess moisture drains from the bottom. Allow the soil to soak up the moisture for 30 minutes. Additional potting mix may be necessary as more of the soil settles into the fill. Water a second time if the soil surface still feels dry.

Plant your transplants into the container at the same depth they were growing at previously. Check the soil moisture in the container daily and water when the top 1 inch of soil begins to dry. Large containers with filler drain quickly and may require daily or twice daily watering.

Items you will need

  • Packing peanuts or cans
  • Potting soil


  • Wear gloves when handling crushed cans to avoid cuts from rough aluminum edges.
  • Plastic bottles or half-gallon milk jugs can also be used as planter filler.

About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo Credits

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