Mason jars are a common item in kitchens, pantries, and sometimes fashionable restaurants. Of course, there’s more to them than just culinary use! Aesthetic-conscious gardeners should be
Mason jars can be used as a plant containers. They have comparable qualities to other more conventional planter materials such as: 1) affordability; 2) clear glass; 3) being eco-friendly; 4) able to retain moisture; 5) aesthetically pleasing, and 6) lightweight.
Despite being a product that’s already very good to use as a plant container or planter, we can still optimize its function and aesthetics by following the recommendations listed down below.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can A Mason Jar Be Used As A Planter?
- 2 6 Benefits of Mason Jars
- 3 3 Tips When Using Mason Jars
- 4 Tinted or Colored Mason Jars
- 5 Do Mason Jars Need Drainage Holes?
- 6 How To Drill Drainage Holes on a Mason Jar
- 7 Using Mason Jars To Protect Plants From Frost
- 8 What About Plastic Mason Jars?
- 9 Takeaways
- 10 Sources
Mason jars can be used as stylish and functional planters or plant containers. They can function similarly to other plant containers of different materials like terra cotta, ceramic, plastic, fiberglass, wood, or concrete, but have some unique features.
They have unique benefits compared to other materials. Mason jars are arguably more stylish and accessible given how they are often used for commercial products to store foodstuffs.
Mason jars are an economical, eco-friendly, and aesthetic solution for gardening. The glass Mason jars are made from have some clear advantages over the other aforementioned materials.
Mason Jars have been in circulation since 1858 when its inventor, John Landis Mason, patented it. The noble mason jar is a common sight everywhere due to its simple yet effective threaded design that allows covers to get screwed on.
You’d be surprised by how many mason jars you actually have lying around the house. Mason jars are used for commonly bought commercial products such as coffee, pickles, sardines, or kimchi.
They come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest 4 oz (112 ml) jelly mason jars to the 64 oz (2 L) wide-mouth mason jars. They can accommodate most moderately sized plants such as thyme, succulents, oregano, and others.
Clear glass has benefits over clay pots or opaque containers. Clear glass allows for a gardener to easily inspect the growing medium, moisture, and root system of the plants.
Clear glass prevents plants from being root bound as roots reach the edge of the container they will stop growing when they receive sunlight. This is good for transplanting since the roots which have stopped growing can be planted on another medium with fewer chances of transplant shock.
Note: Glass, despite being brittle, is a durable material that has a wide range of resistance against most chemicals. This is why we use glass, instead of plastic or clay, to hold some of the most volatile chemicals such as chemical acids.
Mason jars are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional growing containers. Mason jars are plentiful, easily sourced from scrap yards, or recycled from commercial products.
Compared to other plant containers made from plastic, fiberglass, wood, or terra cotta, glass is easier to recycle. They can be broken down, melted, and reshaped into another form or product.
Glass Mason jars can retain moisture better than other materials such as terra cotta or wood plant containers. This is because glass is an impermeable material that does not allow water or air to pass through it.
Compared to materials such as terra cotta and wood which are porous and permeable, glass is better at retaining moisture. Glass does not allow either water or air to escape from the container.
Moisture retention in mason jars also depends if they are placed in direct or indirect lighting. Direct lighting will allow more sunlight and heat to pass compared to indirect lighting.
Mason jars are a simple yet aesthetic choice, suitable in almost any setting. The transparency of the mason jar’s glass allows for a gardener to show off the decorative yet functional layers of growing medium.
A gardener can stack different and varied growing mediums such as pebbles, sand, vermiculite, peat moss, or perlite layer by layer. This allows not only for the functional use of the growing medium to suit the plant’s needs but also a form of self-expression for a gardener who wants to add some color below their plants.
Mason jars are extremely light – a regular 32 oz (~1 liter) mason jar only weighs 1 pound (~0.45 kg). The glass construction lends itself to a light and durable planter.
Due to their low weight, they can be easily moved from place to place without much difficulty or mess. Compared to some other planter materials which are considerably heavier despite having the same volume capacity, mason jars provide a solid weight-to-volume capacity ratio.
Here are a few quick tips to make Mason jars as plant containers more optimal and economical.
It is a better option to purchase Mason jars without the lids. It is more economical and eco-friendly since aluminum or plastic lids will not be put to waste.
This is only applicable if you happen to not have any spare mason jars recycled from past foodstuff purchases such as pickles, kimchi, or sardines.
A gardener can purchase quality Mason jars online. If you’re willing to get down and dirty, scrap yards and antique stores also offer Mason jars.
Placing rocks and pebbles at the bottom reduces the chances of plants drowning due to overwatering. Rocks at the bottom may help in aeration and drainage in conjunction with the drainage soil.
The rocks and pebbles also add extra weight to the Mason jar which may be helpful to keep the container from tipping over.
Finally, a clear delineation between rock and soil layers can be quite stylish if that’s the look you’re going for. If you want to see how to do it, look at our glass jar garden guide!
Tinting a Mason jar can be done by applying food coloring over its surface, allowing it to dry, and baking it. This provides for an aesthetic “ombre” color that serves to reduce the heat absorbed by the growing medium.
To tint a glass Mason jar, the process will require a mixture of 1 tablespoon of water, ~40 drops of food coloring, and 1 tablespoon glue. Apply the mixture to the inside of the Mason Jar. While drying, preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
Here’s a video to better visualize the process.
The tint of the mason jar can either speed up or slow down the process of evaporation. Clear mason jars will aid in evaporation by allowing thermal rays to pass whereas tinted mason jars slow down evaporation by reducing thermal rays.
Clear mason jars will allow all light to pass through it without obstacle because it is a transparent material. Tinted mason jars will only allow some light to pass through it, only allowing bands of light close to its color to pass through.
Due to the options available, a gardener can pick and choose what tint their mason jars will be if the growing medium requires more or less sunlight or heat.
As a general rule, planters require drainage holes to prevent instances of negligent overwatering. However, if a gardener is very careful with watering, drainage holes may no longer be necessary.
This is indeed the weak spot of the mason jar. You should be extremely careful with watering to prevent root rot. Definitely, mason jars are not for beginner gardeners as they often tend to overwater their plants. One of the materials used in the substrate is horticultural carbon. This has great water absorption capability and it is widely used in both mason jars and any other vivarium.
The point of a drainage hole is to allow water to drain from the growing medium and exit at the bottom of the planter. This is useful for indoor gardening to prevent negligent overwatering and outdoor gardening to prevent too much rainwater from seeping into the soil.
To drill a drainage hole on a Mason jar, a continuous stream of water should be poured on the bottom while applying consistent pressure with an electric drill fitted with a hollow drill bit. This process lubricates the drilling process, preventing cracks and uneven drill holes.
We recommend a reliable 18-20 volt electric drill. since it allows for more options and flexibility in gardening or other DIY projects. It’s an investment that will pay off in the future.
We recommend purchasing additional drill bits since there are different drill bits for different purposes. It is also important to note that drill bits are consumable which means that they will wear out after repeated use so having a spare can help!
I wrote an entire article about putting drainage holes in other planter materials such as terra cotta, ceramic. plastic, fiberglass, wood, and concrete.
Mason jars can be used as makeshift cloches to prevent plants from succumbing to frost in colder climates. Just remove the top lid and cover the plant with the Mason jar.
Glass has good transparency and excellent heat insulation which makes them a good material in cold climates. Mason jars, by extension, inherit these properties since they are made from the same material.
Conventional cloches are glass or plastic covers in the shape of a bell placed over a plant to shield it from the cold. Think of them as miniature greenhouses made for a single plant. Though they have been replaced by row covers in agriculture, they still find use in small-scale gardening.
Plastic Mason jars are also a viable alternative. They have nearly the same properties as glass mason jars but are considerably more durable due to the flexibility of plastics.
Plastic Mason jars are a slightly cheaper alternative to glass Mason jars. What they lack in the elegance of glass, they make for by not shattering like glass when they fall or get hit with great force.
However, plastic Mason jars are not recommended because they are not as eco-friendly as glass. Plastic is harder to recycle because different plastics have different densities making them harder to sort and process by recycling centers.
Glass is mostly the same in composition. They can be broken, melted, and recycled infinitely without degradation in quality. In addition, we personally prefer glass mason jar, they are just prettier than plastic!
- Mason jars are an excellent, effective, economical, and eco-friendly alternative to plant containers. A gardener can modify their Mason jar to how they see fit to suit their gardening purpose.
- Mason jars have six (6) benefits: 1) affordable and available; 2) clear glass; 3) eco-friendly; 4) moisture retention; 5) aesthetically pleasing; and lightweight.
- Mason jars can have drainage holes in them to better facilitate drainage and aeration. They can also be tinted for functional or aesthetic purposes.
- “All About Cloches” by Lee Reich in National Gardening Association.
- “Basics of Plant Respiration” by Jose Chen Lopez in PREMIER HORTICULTURE
- “HOW THE LIGHTING COLOR SPECTRUM AFFECTS PLANT GROWTH” by n/a in SpecGradeLED
- “Light Filtration” by Mortimer Abramowitz & Michael Davidson in Olympus
- “Protect Plants From Spring Frost” by n/a in Wisconsin Pollinators
- “Properties of Glass Materials” by Hasanuzzaman et al in Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering
- “What Is the Best Material for Planters: The Pros and Cons of Popular Pots” by n/a in Creative Design Manufacturing