Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – Great Idea or Ultimate Stupidity?

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Robert Pavlis

You have probably seen the memes showing you how to grow seeds in ice cream cones. There are lots of pictures on the internet, especially in places like Pinterest, showing nicely grown seedlings like the one pictured below.

The whole idea did not make sense to me, but who knows, maybe it’s a good idea and I’m just jealous that I didn’t think of it first.

I had to try it!

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones - Great Idea or Ultimate Stupidity?
Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – Great Idea or Ultimate Stupidity? Source: Sarah Neuburger

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones

This is pretty simple. Take an ice cream cone, fill it with potting mix, add your seed, water and wait until things grow. I don’t know if you have to put a hole in the bottom? Most instructions that I looked at did not mention it, so I did not bother.

I took 4 cones and added some Pro-mix BX; my standard seed starting mix. I placed a bean seed in each of two cones and a pea seed in each of the other two. To keep them upright, I put them in a container. I then watered them just enough to wet the soil, but not enough to have water run out the bottom or over the top edge.

Growing Great Tomaotes, by Robert Pavlis

What To Expect?

The pictures on the internet are quite clear – see above. After a few weeks you have this nice clean cone with small seedlings growing in it.

It is even claimed that this is biodegradable – how nice is that?

A Myth is Born

The author of the above picture, Sarah Neuburger, contacted me through the comments section of this post. This picture is of a small concrete cast pot – that is why it looks so perfect. Whoever started this myth must have seen the picture and figured it could be used to start a false story about growing in ice cream cones. Other bloggers saw the story and ran with it, creating stories of their own. In no time at all, the internet was full of this nonsense.

I don’t know who started the story, but at least we now know that the pictures never showed real ice cream cones.

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – 24 hours

I looked at the ice cream cones 24 hours after planting. You can see that they all collapsed and are now laying on top of one another in the corner of the container. Ice cream cones melt once wet – after all they are mostly air.

Why did mine collapse and the one in the advertisement was still hard, even weeks later?

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones - 24 hours
Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – 24 hours later

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – 1 week

I left them in the container under lights and a week later I have germinated seedlings. They are a bit tall – I guess they did not get enough light.

Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones - 1 week later
Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – 1 week later

Wonder what all that white stuff is? Here is a closeup of all the mold growing on the outside.

This mold might be mycorrhizal fungi in which case they could be good for the seedlings – but I doubt it. It is just mold growing on the wet, starchy, sugary cones.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis

Can You Grow Seedlings in Ice Cream Cones?

YES! I just proved you can.

Is it a good idea? NO. It’s a stupid idea.

It’s just one more example of people being conned on the internet – or should that be coned?

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

20 thoughts on “Growing Seeds in Ice Cream Cones – Great Idea or Ultimate Stupidity?”

  1. Richard,
    Thank you for showing us what happens when we use an ice cream cone for a plant pot. I really didn’t see it coming that it would dissolve. You saved us all much time, trouble, and grossness (as in mold)!

  2. The photo is actually not clear and you have misrepresented what is shown in the image. This is actually my original photo and the ice cream cone is not an edible cone but a small concrete cast pot. Many years later after posting this image on my blog, I found the internet had decided this was a seed starting suggestion (which is ridiculous). Having come across this post quite by accident, I would encourage everyone to use photos with permission and track down original sources when they aren’t yours.

    • I try to find authors of the pictures I use and if I know who they are, they get a credit under the picture.
      I have updated the post with this new information and credited the photo to you. I hope you will allow me to continue using it – but if you want it taken down, I will.

      • It actually works very well, you have to cut off the bottom 2/3 of the cone, leaving the top collar and top ring and place the collar and ring with seeds in soil for drainage – I put mine in casserole pans with plastic wrap covering. They won’t tip, rot, but do get very soft. When ready to move seedlings, scoop them up with a little shovel or large spoon and place in garden or container. Little cone keeps seedlings organized and upright for sun. Works beautifully!

  3. It looks like the plants didn’t die so if you can plant them into soil more quickly or find another way to reduce the collapse issue the apparently harmless mold isn’t an issue.

    Seems like this might be a way to do Jiffy Peat (Coir) pots on the cheap, at least for certain plants. In fact, their weakness might be an asset since some roots have trouble getting through the Jiffies and I often get walls of the pots coming out of soil/separating from it because they don’t break down quickly at all.

    If the plants had died then you would be right that this is a terrible idea. From what you’ve shown us with the pictures, it’s merely problematic (like most things).


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