8 Totally Free Junk Drawer Items That Can Help Your Houseplants Thrive

published Feb 8, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

We’re already a month into the new year, and I don’t know about you, but I’m still scrambling around trying to fit myself into that “new year, new me” mentality. One of the things I swore I would do in the first few months of the new year was to start decluttering my home from the drawers up — a resolution goes hand in hand with my other goals of saving money and limiting new purchases.

This past week I finally got around to making a decluttering plan and started clearing out my junk drawer. While I tossed many take out menus, broken claw clips, and half-empty utensil packets, I was pleasantly surprised that many of the other junk drawer items could quickly be repurposed for my plants. That meant I could save money and avoid buying new items — a double win!

I guarantee many of these things can be found in your home, too. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in your decluttering and how it can help your houseplants.

String Light Hooks Left Over from the Holidays

One of the first things I pulled out of the junk drawer in my dining room was a half-empty pack of 3M hooks left over from stringing lights over the holidays. These small, easy-to- use hooks are the perfect fix for vines that need help climbing. 

One of the reasons that people seek out and collect vining plants like pothos and philodendrons are those creeping tendrils. And while they look lovely trailing down, they also can make a big impact climbing upwards — after all, what better way to bring the outdoors in than by letting your plants cover your walls?

Vining plants will need extra support on smooth walls, and that’s where the hooks come in. Once you sort out how you want the vines to look, you can attach the hooks on the wall and simply slide the stem onto the hook. Choosing a piece of the stem that has a leaf or aerial root will help the plant hang on as it continues to grow (and will help hide the hook, too).

Bobby Pins

I have bobby pins taking up residence in just about every hiding spot in my house, and let me tell you, most of those pins have bent beyond their ability to hold back any hair. Luckily, they can both help your plant self-propagate and make your vining plant look fuller — a trick that takes only a few minutes and is wildly effective. Here’s how: Either take a few cuttings from your plant or loop a few longer, scraggly vines up into the crown of your plant. Bend an old bobby pin and secure into the soil around the base of the plant, pinning the stems into the potting mix. Make sure you stretch the pin and carefully place it over the stem, gently pushing the pin until its flush or near-flush with the soil. Then, water as usual. Over time, the stems will root in place and you’ll be able to remove the pins to use somewhere else.

This trick is especially helpful for owners of pothos, vining philodendrons, string of hearts or string of pearls, all of which will readily stretch new roots into the soil if pinned in place.

Old Paint Brushes

It seems like my kids always have cheap, scruffy-looking paint brushes clattering in the bottom of the kitchen junk drawer. Even if those brushes are looking too ragged for actual painting, they can be easily repurposed for plant use, regardless of size.

Smaller brushes can be used to help pollinate citrus or other fruiting plants and to clean splashed dirt on the inside of a terrarium. Medium and larger brushes can help clean off the sides of pots after an accidental watering overflow or to keep the dust off of leaves. Just make sure the brushes are clean and free of any dried paint before you use them on your plants. 

Dull Scissors

Odds are, if you’ve got a junk drawer, you have a pair of dull scissors in there somewhere. Those aren’t trash! Take a minute to sharpen them and then designate them as your official houseplant scissors with a permanent marker label or some eye-catching washi tape design.

Your newly-christened plant scissors can be used for trimming stems, leaves, and wayward aerial roots. Once they’ve been crowned as the houseplant scissors, don’t use them for anything else — and clean them with rubbing alcohol after each use. That will help ensure that you don’t accidentally spread diseases between your plants.

Credit: Carina Romano

Zip Ties

This last go-around with the junk drawer found me with a handful of zip ties in a range of totally random sizes. I even found miniature ones! The security of a zip tie makes it perfect for securing your larger plants like monsteras or fiddle leaf figs to their supports. Just make sure not to tighten the ties all the way, or you’ll damage the plant tissue as it grows.


I’ve mentioned this trick before, but it’s worth repeating: Spare chopsticks from any takeout orders are a great tool for aerating houseplant soil. Gently poke the chopstick into your houseplant’s soil until you reach the bottom, then repeat a few more times. This helps break up compacted soil, allowing more oxygen to reach the roots and helping the plant take in more water, too.


Twine of any kind can be the holy grail item of plant ownership if you let it, and there’s a good chance you’ve got a half-used spool sitting somewhere in your home.

Twine can be used to keep plants upright or to help guide them to grow a certain way. It can also be used to keep bags of potting material (potting mix, charcoal, perlite, etc.) closed. It can also help you propagate, or to make a DIY moss pole or a self-watering system. Needless to say, twine is incredibly handy to have around.

Wood Craft Sticks 

Remember those Popsicle sticks you bought last summer when you were sure you’d get around to making those amazing Pinterest ice pops? Dig them out and use them as plant markers. This is a great chance to bring in a bit of creativity, too! 

DIY popsicle-stick plant markers are great for remembering what the scientific name of a specific plant is called, when the last time you watered it was, or even the last time it was treated for pests.

If you want to really go big, ditch the marker and pull out your label maker instead. You’ll probably find it in your junk drawer.