entertaining by 84

we like it wild: bottle gardens


As much as we love to garden, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. If there’s a way we can shorten our to-do list, we’ll take it. This week’s project, a no-fuss recycled windowsill herb garden, has knocked watering the plants off our list. Self-watering planters like these aren’t a new idea; we remember our own childhood craft books that taught us how to poke holes through Dixie cups or invert two liter plastic bottles to grow our own little bean garden. This grown-up version is much better looking and works great for small herbs and plants. We used beer bottles for ours, but you could make a larger garden with wine bottles too.


Although this project may take a little more effort than your average windowsill garden initially, the pay off is worth it for us: we get to usefully recycle bottles, we get fresh herbs we don’t have to dote on, and we get a sparkling window display. The thing we love about self-watering gardens, besides the general ease of it all, is that we don’t have to worry about over-watering our plants or under-watering them. For our planters, we snatched up some “practice cut” glass pieces that Jill’s husband made while working on his guitar bottle slides. If you aren’t lucky enough to have extra bottle halves around…there are glass cutting kits available at craft stores, there are tons of tutorials online, or if you know people with mad tools and skills, they can help you cut down your bottles. Our favorite combination used a dark neck inside a clear base, but you can vary with whatever bottles you’d like.

CLICK HERE for the full (photo illustrated) project steps after the jump!


You’ll just want to make sure the neck piece is shorter than the bottom piece so it will rest inside without touching the bottom. Once your bottles are cut (it could take some practice), sand down the edges enough so they’re not dangerous to the touch. Take a square of screen, about 2″ by 2″, and cut a small hole in the center to pass a thick string through. The string will act as a wick for the water and draw it up to the plant, keeping the soil just wet enough to keep the herbs growing.


Pass the string through and tie a tall knot large enough to keep it from slipping through the screen.



Run the string down the neck of the bottle top with the screen resting at the top. The bottom half of your bottle will be the water reservoir, while the top half is the planter.



Transplant your herbs (or add dirt and plant seeds) to the bottle top. Make sure your length of string reaches the bottom of the glass below, and your garden is good to go. Just keep your water at a good level and the string does the rest of the work for you.

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84 Comments

Jenny

that is awesome! i’ma have to share that with my hubby he might like it.

Rachael Lachel

Doing this, I just killed my Sunflowers!

valeriepica

Super idea, I’d really like to try this. Could you please clarify what you mean by ‘screen’ though? Is it just loose weave fabric, or is it some special item? Thanks

Amanda

Great tutorial! Not only is it great for urban gardening, but self-watering? yes please!

Amber

This is a great idea – is that small amount of soil enough to sustain herbs, though? Or is it more for decoration?

Thanks

Studio Choo

valerie- the screen is actually a small weave screen (you can buy just a small section at most hardware stores). amber- the small amount of soil for the beer bottle planter would be best for small herbs or for starter seeds and if you want something longer lasting the larger wine bottle would be better.

Chela

Thankyou! Just got back from a weekend away and there has been a plant massacre, very sad.

vee

that is tooo cute!
Grace you post the best stuff!
My old man and I figured out how to cut glass with string, oil, a lighter and a bucket full of water.
Its quite exciting!

grace

thanks vee- i’m very lucky to have the studio choo girls as part of our team :)

g

frillfriend

i’ve done this with plastic water bottles and coffee filters … great for seed starting.
Without the filter … start cuttings and watch the roots develop. OR keep the filter and then add a little dirt every few days and transplant.

LJ

Great DIY! I made self watering containers out of painter’s buckets and this year my garden is so much easier and bigger. I love fresh herbs but have been having a hard time keeping them, especially since I’m out of town so often.

Anyways. Glass is always better but essentially you can make this with plastic bottles. I find the large, sort of rectangular juice bottles give you a lot of volume and fit quite nicely on the window sill. Definitely on my list of to-dos for the summer!

Christine

I have already followed your link and bought my own glass cutting supplies! Thank you, I am excited to create this project!

Tina

Just showed my boyfriend this nifty tutorial and he made a great point, is it possible to use the bottom half of the wine/beer bottle as the water reservoir instead of using another glass? He felt it sorta defeated the whole purpose of the re-purposing aspect of this project. Which I somewhat agree with him, but I do like the 2-tone effect of the dark & clear glass. Anywho, this is a great project nonetheless!

jen

grace – I appreciate every clever recycled childhood project you post!! I missed many of those and get chique crafty ideas to do with my son that look awesome in my house. thanks :)

Studio Choo

Hi Tina -
If you look a little bit closer, you’ll see that indeed we did use the bottom half of another bottle as the reservoir, just a different color. ;)

sandymoi

Hi Grace, great recycling idea and I’ve always wanted to get my hands on self-watering planters. This looks wonderful in the kitchen too. Besides glass, any other materials that we can possibly experiment?

grace

hi sandymoi

so glad you liked the post- this was actually written by studio choo, the lovely team who writes all of our floral posts and who run a fantastic shop in california. i’m sure they’ll check back in here to answer your question :)

g

Patty

What a great idea! The kids would love this for growing little flowers for Mom too! Would like some other ideas for the bottle base…drinking cups or vases? If it was green glass I would say rooting cups as green glass works amazingly better than anything else. So what shall we do with the bottoms. Also what about the sharp edges on the cut glass? What can we use to sand the glass edges with?
Thanks for the great ideas!

Novi

This is fantastic! Thank you.
If there are no glass bottles laying around we can use plastic pop bottles, the 2L ones make good size pots.

superbadfriend

Ooooh Grace, and studio choo, what a brilliant concept for recycling bottles. These herbs are so pretty and simple in their new homes. I am definitely making these as hostess gifts this summer. Thanks for the lovely idea.
@Novi, there are special sanding blocks with diamond dust made specially for glass. OR use fine sandpaper or even better, a sharpening stone, to remove the edge. I recommend wearing a mask when doing this process, you don’t want to inhale glass dust. ;)
xoj

Luci

Awesome idea! I’ve got some herbs on the verge of death that would do well if they could water themselves…

Any idea if this would work with bulbs for spring flowers?

Diamanto

Very beautiful idea! I’ ll try to do it with herbal plants. Thank you!

Summer

This is a great idea…and pretty too (that’s important)! I’ve gone to succulents because the watering issue when we’re gone and because I seem to have serious fungus gnat issues ever since I moved to Oregon. However, I’ve heard that a layer of sand on the top of the soil prevents them…so…no more excuses! :)

Hannah

what a great idea! it would be perfect for birthday and Christmas gifts, too! I love this.

Pam

Luci–

Bulbs have to have a ‘winter’ period in order to bloom, so it would involve chilling them for a number of weeks first… Or, you could buy paperwhites, which many places sell ready to go. They’re lovely (if you can stand the smell– I can’t), and require only gravel to bloom!

Tina

Ohhhh studio choo you are so right! Thanks for pointing that out :) I’ll be sure to let my boyfriend know that you guys DID re-use everything!

Dottie Anne

I tried cutting the glass with a glass cutter and was not able to get a straight edge. It was kind of jagged and did not look very pretty. I tried practicing on 5-6 bottles with no luck. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting a straighter cut or somewhere you can take it to get it cut professionally?

yap

it is good for providing drainage for essacing water.:)

lim

it is good for providing drainage for essacing water. :)

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Laura

This is absolutely awesome. I have a little herb garden — about five different herbs in pots, but they are quickly dieing because I forget/can’t always water them. I’m going to figure out how to cut glass… and transplant my herbs asap!!! I love this!!!

jaya

i love plants very much,so i like this,very useful to me,thankyou very much.

Ana Lucia

I would love to receive your newsletters
Thank you in advance
Ana

Deebi27

Awesome idea, I think I might try this…and maybe hubby will help for the healthy benefits!

Pam

I found this link last night after searching and searching for a more affordable option to the Grow Bottle. Thank you so much for posting this, I am looking forward to trying this!!!

Cheda

What a great idea! Love it! I want to have the same in my kitchen!
Thank you for sharing!

suzie

Hi! this is an awesome idea. I was wondering, pepsi makes a throw bake plastic bottle and there are root beer bottles that are similar in shape. This would be easier to cut. Would this work?

Rosilda

Lindo e muito eficiente para combater o mosquito da dengue que assola o Brasil!

HHI Ladybug

I do glass painting & some etching as well. I don’t drink, but I’m going to ask my friends to save their bottles. Look out everyone’s getting these as gifts

Nicole

Does anyone know what the rope looks like after a while? Is it something that will get moldy? My son is allergic to mold, so I’d like to know if this is something I need to be proactive & change after a certain amount of time.

Hillary

This works well with lots of plants, but when you plant them it’s good to water from the top for a few times to get things going correctly. Just be gentle so all your dirt doesn’t wash out. Once in a while you’ll have to do that again to give it a pick-me-up. :) But usually herbs like dryer feet, so this works well! (Always always water in plants when newly transplanted to get a good bond of the soils, and to help the roots settle in. :) ) Nicole, I’ve never seen mold on them, but they will get some algae on them. You can totally do this with plastic bottles as well. :) African violets love this water method!

bme

this is a great idea, it would transfer to larger sizes too. (am i the only one that thinks tampon strings when i see it? lol)

T.L.

Great idea going to buy herb seeds this week. This will be a great way to add flavor without having to go to the store.

Jessica

You can use wool felt as the wick to avoid the rot that would eventually come with any cotton string or fabric used!

Adam

What a wonderfully unique idea, very classy, great for the kids to do as well as something we can happily display around the home. Love your site design too btw, very classy as well…

Silvana Figueiredo

I loved this solution helped me a lot with my seedlings congratulations to the creator if you can send other ideas.

AMALIA YELMI HAMS

una forma hermosa de tener plantas en poco espacio y no se necesita regar , la planta toma lo que necesita por medio del cordón no leo el Inglés y me costaría trabajo traducir todo pero con las gráficas se como hacerlo les agradezco sus orientaciones y a mi hija que vive en Leamington, Canadá, por compartir estas novedades

Debbie Johnson

I love this idea i have no way to cut glass

Kim

I have been trying to find a way to grow some cat grass without letting it dry out, can use a big rectangular milk jug, will be perfect!

Gema p blanco

Tu idea es genial,la voy a hacer el nuevo ciclo escolar ¡gracias!

Viviane

Wonderful way to start a herb garden and recycle bottles. Super clever!

LadyInnominate

I’m assuming you would only be able to plant something with a small root system to keep them from becoming root bound. Maybe herbs?

Elizabeth Lowe

These are gorgeous! I did this with 2L pop bottles, which weren’t as pretty, but they worked well. I lined the top with a coffee filter twisted a little at the bottom and pulled through the opening so it wicked up the water.

Karla

I wish I could find a way to cut glass bottles with string..someone said to use a sting and a finger polish remover and use it like a saw and it would cut the bottle??

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