Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!

Yogurt Cup Self Irrigating Planter

by carlynorama, published

Yogurt Cup Self Irrigating Planter by carlynorama May 17, 2012

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11091Views 1690Downloads Found in Outdoor & Garden


This project is a 3D printed insert for a yogurt cup or any container that needs a new purpose. It turns trash into a self irrigating planter for kitchen herbs or flowers. Done in OpenSCAD, I tried to make it as parameterized as possible. Also, it should be able to print without support material in most cases.


Additional Stuff

  • Scissors
  • Nylon clothes line (I used 5mm, 3/16 inch is 4.7625mm, 1/4 is 6.35mm)
  • Lighter (to seal ends of clothes line)
  • Potting Soil
  • Small Plant or Seeds

Special Thanks to Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (authors of Making It and The Urban Homestead) for coming to teach at CRASH Space as part of the Analog Living series and inspiring this project.

I've marked it as a work in progress because I'd like to make the file even easier to use for non-coders, maybe add a way to water from the top, etc.

Step 1:
Find a yogurt cup or other container (with no hole) you'd like to use as a planter.

Step 2:
(option a) If your planter is a yogurt cup that is about the same dimensions as the one I used, you can just download the STL file and use that.

(option b) If you want to make changes download the OpenSCAD file (download OpenSCAD, too) and change the measurements at the top of the file. If you want to use the S.I.P. for plant that doesn't need much water and are getting too water logged with the current design, try making the hole for the wick smaller and using a smaller diameter twine.

Step 3:
Print the file using a 3D printer. The gcode is for a MakerBot Replicatorâ„¢ using the left print head, raft-less and support-less. (Thank you @todbot )

Step 4:
Thread the nylon rope up through the bottom of the cup and knot the end. Then cut the twine sticking out of the bottom of the cup so it is long enough to reach the bottom of the container. Use the lighter to melt the end so it won't unravel. Nylon is easy to seal this way and doesn't rot as quickly as cotton. I haven't experimented with Jute or other fibers.

Step 5:
Slightly dampen the potting soil you are planning to use. If it is a plant with roots that are likely to rot, you might want to

  • use a cactus mix (sandier for drainage)
  • add extra vermiculite/hydroponic medium (moisture regulators)

Step 6:
Plant your plant! Water carefully from the top to get everything to settle in. Check the water level in the yogurt cup. If the water level is below where the base of the insert will be, add a little more. If planting seeds, water before placing the seeds.

Step 7 (optional):
If you are very worried about water loss or are going to travel with your plant, cut a hole in the center of the yogurt cup lid and use it as a plastic "mulch"

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This is brilliant!  Earthworm habitat.

What size are your yogurt containers? I loaded up the STL and found it ready to print at 8cm diameter.

just curious...


Very cool!

I actually bought a system like this, except it has an offset hole (near the edge) with a slightly raised edge (neck or sleeve). You shove a tube (of variable height) into the hole so you can check the resevoir water level and refill it from the top. The tube bottom is cut diagonally so even if it
's touching the bottom, it won't prevent refilling. Do you think you can add something similar? I'm not near a real computer for the next week or so, or I'd play with it myself.

The system I bought was for 5 gallon buckets, by the way. This would be very handy for yogurt cups.

Thanks for sharing!

I was thinking something like that, but I'm not sure if at this scale it wouldn't eat away too much plant real estate. It maybe there needs to be a "medium" container version.

I too won't probably do much until next week myself!

This is a perfect "green" use of 3D printing - use a reprap to print a PLA insert to put into a reused container (reuse = perfect recycling), to grow new plants. And, of course, the whole thing is reusable! This is wonderful. 8-)

So glad you like it.