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.

  1. Joanne says:

    Thank you for the direction. 1 of the plants looks limp, could this be that this structure is not for all herbs or was it a lack of sun? (This is a sincere question) thank you again

    1. bob says:

      Think of a bonzai. If it grew the same size of a tree is would need bigger roots and more space to actualy stand straigth and strong.

  2. Brittany says:

    This is a great idea! I love the way it looks. Thanks for saying the bottle cutting may take practice :). Now when I hit a snag I won’t think I’m not capable and quit. haha

  3. Clau says:


  4. Rick says:

    If your are going to cut your own bottles get a kit that scores the glass. The burning twine videos on YouTube are just bottle breakers. I also recommend the water dams to contain the hot and cold water you’ll use and some HEAVY DUTY diamond sanding pads (ALWAYS WET SAND – glass dust will seriously mess up your lungs). These are all available at http://www.bottlecutting.com and work very well.

    1. christy says:

      Why cant you use plastic bottles?

      1. Janie says:

        Christy, my first thought about not using plastic bottles would be that glass bottles provide the anchor or are heavy enough to keep the plant/glass bottle half from falling over?

        1. John says:

          Just use some colored marbles in the plastic to weigh down and add some color

  5. E.carpio says:

    Great idea and is something that will catch people’s attention.

  6. Faye says:

    You could put pebbles or stones in the bottom half to weigh it so the bottles don’t fall if you are using plastic bottles ????

  7. Namita says:

    Thank u for this great idea.I like it. I want for my kitchen but due to lack of time I couldn’t do this. Thank u again.

  8. John says:

    That’s an awesome idea. I checked many good sites for deciding my first bottle cutter including amazon.com and http://21bottle.com/bottle-cutter/

    I read reviews there and bought good one.

  9. Peter Mirtitsch says:

    Plastic bottles can be a lightweight alternative, but remember, UV light in natural sunlight destroys plastic after a while, rendering it brittle.

  10. John says:

    Nice trick and really easy to make this garden at home.But most important thing which you should mention as disclaimer: Bottle cutting creates bottle dust an which can harm your lungs. See more detail at

  11. Norma says:

    This is such a wonderful idea!

  12. Kausalya says:

    Interesting. I like it. Will try in my kitchen.


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