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Turn your used pencil stubs into beautiful and edible plants

By Louie Cheng

Have you ever experienced the situation where your pencil has been sharpened to only a thumb’s length, and you have no choice but to throw it away? Now, an innovative design called “Sprout” may help relieve your guilt over wasting those pencil stubs. By scrapping the eraser and replacing it with a seed, rubbish bins are no longer the only destination for old pencils. Instead, they can grow into something beautiful, delicious and fun.

At first glance, Sprout is just another wooden pencil. However, once it becomes too short to hold after many times of sharpening, don’t throw it in the bin. First find yourself a pot of soil and gently press the top of the pencil down. The line painted on the pencil indicates how deep it should go in the soil. And then, just take care of it as you would any other plant: water it daily and expose it to sufficient sunlight.

The seed in Sprout is embedded in a water-activated capsule. After several waterings, the protective capsule will dissolve and the seed will start sprouting. With proper care, the once useless pencil stub will eventually grow into a plant that brightens up your office or garnishes your salad.

The wooden pencil shaft can be removed after the plantlet’s sprouts. But you can also keep it as a labelled planting marker if you like.

There are currently 22 different seeds available, including flowers such as marigolds and forget-me-nots, vegetables such as radish, tomato and eggplant, and herbs such as mint, rosemary, thyme and parsley.

To increase the chance of germination, at least two seeds of the plant of the user’s choice are placed in each capsule. Most of them will sprout in around a week.

However, the water-activated capsule cannot distinguish between intentional irrigation and accidental spills. Whenever the pencil tip gets wet, the capsule will start dissolving and the seeds will be ready to sprout. Therefore, if you spill your coffee over your pencil, you may have to get planting although the pencil may still be long enough to write.

So what about the pencil chewers? If you do not want your seed capsule to activate and dissolve in your mouth, maybe it is time to break the habit.

Sprout is now available for online ordering. A single basil Sprout pencil costs HK$40. Different sized packages with a variety of seeds combinations are offered with discounts. The detailed planting instructions for each type of seed can be found on the website. If you are interested, visit