Plant Starting Tray with a Muffin Pan

Plant Starting Tray with a Muffin Pan

Real Life Confession- I love the idea of gardening more than I love actual gardening. Can anyone else relate? BUT. But…I still enjoy having planted herbs around as the weather warms up! So, this year, I’ve decided to do a series of upcycling ideas for an herb garden. And today is Part 1: Repurposing a muffin pan as a seed starting tray or plant starting tray.

You can find old baking pans at thrift stores all the time. Rusty, crusty, and all together a little gross.

Which makes them PERFECT for upcycling as a growing tray for seeds.

Muffin tins at a thrift store for upcycling into the propagation trays for herb seeds

Muffin pans are shallow and compartmentalized, just like a propagation tray. They seemed like a perfect fit for trying my hand at germinating seeds for an herb garden.

So, I gathered some organic seeds for kitchen herbs before getting started!

Soaking seeds in water before planting in the growing tray

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Upcycling a Muffin Pan into a Seed Starting Tray

It should come as no surprise that I decided to spray paint the muffin pans before I did anything else.

Because, well, why not?

Spray painting a muffin tin that will be used as plant starting pots

When the paint had dried, they were much nicer to touch.

Next, I filled them with my favorite natural muffin papers.

Upcycling a muffin pan into a seedling tray or plant starting pots

Then, I added some seedling potting soil into each cup of the muffin pan. I compacted it ever so slightly so that it didn’t collapse like a soufflé when watered.

How to germinate seeds in a muffin tin as a seedling tray

Per the directions on my organic seeds, I soaked them overnight before planting in the muffin pans. I found that a cheap, plastic paint palette/mixing tray worked PERFECTLY for soaking the seeds.

It wasn’t too deep, it was easy to label, and all my seeds were separate but together, if that makes sense.

Then, I gathered everything together to do the actual planting.

And like clockwork, Cottonball decided to “help” by playing with my measuring cup of water!

Propagation tray by upcycling a muffin pan as seed pots

But that was it! I planted the seeds in the muffin pan carefully, following the directions on each packet.

And since these were just germinating seeds, I broke coffee stirrers in half and made hasty plant markers to keep them straight.

Seedling tray for kitchen herbs by repurposing a muffin tin

Then the waiting game began. My worrier self took over- what if nothing sprouts? What if this is a complete waste of time?

Plant Starting Tray with a Muffin Pan

Silly me! I had little green shoots in just a few days!

How to germinate seeds in a propagation tray that was a muffin pan

After a few weeks, I had healthy little seedlings in the muffin tin.

Healthy little seedlings that had to travel with us when we went out of town because apparently, I’m an overprotective baby-plant Mom. Who knew?

Plant starter trays with muffin tins

The muffin pan or muffin tin worked absolutely PERFECTLY as a seedling tray. I actually really liked the fact that it was metal as opposed to the plant starting pots that are plastic.

It was much sturdier, which was a blessing while we were on vacation.

Starting seeds for herb plants in a muffin tin

Make sure you check out Part 2 of my series of upcycling ideas for an herb garden, too. Once I transplanted them, they needed the perfect place to go!

Since I first published this blog post, I’ve come up with another seed starting idea! This time, I repurposed a vintage disk holder into a tabletop greenhouse.

tabletop greenhouse from a floppy disk holder

And if enjoyed this upcycling idea for an herb garden, then you’ll also LOVE these hanging herb baskets that I upcycled from a thrift store find, too!

hanging herb baskets from lampshade frames

Craft on!


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Plant starting tray in a baking pan

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Love this idea.. so easy and pretty too!

  2. this is such a great idea! It looks so much easier than peat pots. Love your photos.. And I can relate to your statement of loving the idea of gardening! Have a lovely day~

  3. I would have never thought of using muffin papers to germinate seeds – they’re perfect! I’ve always enjoyed watching seeds sprout – once it starts you can almost watch them grow.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      It’s been a lot of fun to watch them grow!! Here’s hoping I don’t screw it up now, LOL. 😉

  4. Oh my…loving those little seedlings in the blue tins!!! 🙂

  5. Love this idea! I just might try it. Like you, I love the idea of gardening more than actually doing it, too! Thanks for sharing at Best of the Weekend!

  6. Sarah, this is such a great idea! I really like the stirrer labels. Can’t wait to see part 2.

  7. This is such a great idea! I wish I hadn’t thrown away my rusted muffin tin!

  8. Jeanette Jeffrey says

    Let’s see if my brown thumb can become a green thumb. I like this idea and I will use grams old tins. I was going to put them on the wall( hubby said throw them out.) . No can do they were grams , so I think she would be pleased I’m still using them.

  9. This is such a good idea. I would have never thought of it!

  10. janet lefever says


  11. I love this smart, upscycled idea. Thanks for sharing it at Craft Frenzy Friday on Mom Home Guide!

  12. Cute idea using a muffin pan! I’m thinking you can just plant those muffin cups and they will disintegrate! I’llbe waiting for part tow

  13. Oops some how I posted this my comment while typing. I’ll be waiting for part two.Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Have a great week! Pinned.

  14. What a great idea! I wish I’d seen this before I sent all of my old muffin tins to Goodwill!

  15. Mary-The Boondocks Blog says

    Sarah I too like to plant them and watch them grow. It only gets scary when the part about watering them starts. Then I either add too much or too little and kill them. That’s ok I’ll be a gardener through your projects instead.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Haha! I completely understand! Since I’m a scientist “in real life”, I use pipettes to water them- it allows me to control the quantity perfectly! 😀

  16. I think you are the only one that will ever have me desiring to plant seeds. This is adorable! 🙂

    I’ve featured you this weekend on DIY Salvaged Junk Projects. Thanks for linking up! 🙂

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Oh my gosh, Donna- it’s a lot of work! And I came home today to find Cottonball sleeping on top of the pans, LOL. In the bay window under direct sun. So I may be back to buying pre-sown plants from now on, hahahaha.

  17. I like this ideas better than egg cartons.

  18. Wonderful recycle for old muffin tins. Good luck with the herb garden.Thank you for sharing at the Snickerdoodle Create~Bake~Make link party!

  19. Great use of the muffin tins! (and beautifully colored, too!) Thanks for sharing!

  20. That is such a good idea ! I really really looooooove it !. If you don’t mind I would love to link your post in one of my future Friday Favorites .

  21. What kind of light source did you use for sprouting?

  22. This is a project for me, my pans are 20 years old and never been used. I hate cooking so this is a great idea for me to do my succulents.

  23. Becky Cassera says

    You are so cute and I just love how you think outside the box!

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