DIY: How to Make a Bottle Tree for Your Garden
My husband finally got the time to put up my bottle tree. I have planted morning glories so they can grow up the tree. They grew up the tree, but they didn't bloom very well.
A clematis planted by the tree worked out well. It grew up between the bottles. Diane Speros contacted me from Harris Publications. The magazine is going to put my bottle tree photo, with the clematis, in their publication of Flea Market Outdoor 2016.
We have people drive by here, and they slow down and keep looking in our yard. My husband and son were wondering what in the world they found so interesting. A red truck stopped the other day, and our son went out and motioned for them to come into the driveway. He wanted them to come in and tell us what they were looking at. We're friendly we don't mind. They wouldn't come in. I told the men in my family they were looking at my beautiful bottle tree. They just laughed.
My personal belief is bottle trees came here by Europeans. My family goes back to the first settlers. They came with many superstitions. They believed in witch balls and gazing balls and also hung bottles in the trees to catch evil spirits.
There are photos of other trees in this article. Each one has its own charm and gives everyone ideas on how to do their bottle tree.
Many people make their trees from metal rods, or simply place the bottles on old dead trees in their yard, but that wasn't the kind I wanted. It's up to you to decide what kind of tree you want, and the functionality will stay the same no matter which way you choose.
I love the bottle tree on the right in the entrance so pretty. There is no reason you can't put one in your home—a small one by the window to catch the evil before it enters.
In Texas, blue bottle trees are called bluebonnet bottle trees. I think this is a very pretty blue tree. Bud Light Platinum now has blue bottles; they can be used on a tree. A bottle tree would brighten up the cold winter garden, and you can add twinkle lights, how pretty would this be?
You can make a tiny little tree with cobalt blue bottles. We plan to have lots more bottles than what you see in the last picture. I want it to look full like the second photo in this article. We put lights on the tree for Christmas.
A man in our town makes bottle trees. I'm very surprised to see a Northern making bottle trees it's usually someone from the south. I can drive all over town and not find a tree. I went looking for one the other day someone said they had seen and never did find it. If you don't want to make your own, you can always check out Jerry Swanson's Bottle Tree site and see if you like any of his trees to buy. I don't know the man so I can't tell you much about buying his trees—just another avenue you can use if you don't want to make your own tree.
- We finally got started on the bottle tree. We used a treated post from Home Depot. The post is 3x5.
- My hubby nailed large spikes into the post. He used 80 D hot dip galvanized pole barn nails.
- They glisten in the sun and howl in the wind.
A bottle tree brightens up any cold winter garden, especially with twinkle lights. How pretty would that be?
I love this form of old, Southern garden art that glistens in the sun and howls in the wind. Bottle trees are also great because they require no care. Once they're up, you never have to water them, and you don't have to worry about them getting too hot or cold. You can even decorate them during the holidays!
This article will show you how to make a bottle tree for your garden. It's not hard, and it looks beautiful, especially once your garden starts to grow around it.
Items Needed to Make Your Tree
- Treated 3x5 wood post/pole
- Posthole digger
- 80 D hot dip galvanized pole barn nails (OR 8-inch galvanized lag screws and a socket wrench)
- Concrete (optional)
I would rather have used a tree stump, but even in our woods, we couldn't find one that worked. No matter what your situation, there's a way to make a bottle tree work for you.
How to Make a Bottle Tree
- Dig a hole about 25 inches deep and about 12 to 14 inches around.
- Place your post in the hole. If you want to add concrete, you can. (We did not do this, we just filled the hole in with dirt.)
- Drill holes at an angle to put your spikes in. Remember to drill the holes far enough apart so each bottle will fit and have room for the next bottle.
- Use a hammer (or drill if you're using screws) to make sure spikes are secure.
- Decorate your tree with bottles!
Below are a video and step-by-step photos of my husband putting up our bottle tree.
Step-by-Step Photos of How to Make a Bottle TreeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Where to Find Bottles for Your Tree
While you can buy bottles on the Internet, I prefer collecting them. I've even hit the liquor store looking to see if I can find a different or special one. You can also tell people you are putting up a bottle tree; you will be surprised at how many bottles you get. At first, I had trouble getting the ones I needed, but now that people know I want them, I'm getting them pretty fast. They may look at you like you're crazy—my children certainly did—but it's worth it.
Some bottles look nice and pretty, but when they are put on the tree, the plastic coating will start to come off. I leave them on anyway, because at least I will end up with nice, clear glass.
Go in antique stores, rummage sales, and flea markets to find them. The bottles here are from my collection of blue. One is a wine bottle, another is an old seltzer bottle, and the rest are shot glasses. A bottle tree decorated entirely with small shot glasses would be pretty. You just have to make the rods they hang on larger or figure out another way to connect them, maybe with wire.
How to Place the Bottles
Bottles should always be placed upside down, with the neck of the bottle facing the trunk of the tree.
How to Clean Your Bottles
If you're putting your bottles on a tree, soak them first to remove all labels.
- Score the label.
- Place the bottle in hot water.
- Leave to soak (sometimes as long as overnight).
- Peel off the label.
Note: There are some labels you have to work at to get off. In this case, I peel as much as I can off and then let the bottle soak longer. I also use lubricant spray to remove particularly tricky labels, which works well.
The Legend Behind Bottle Trees
According to legend, evil spirits looking for trouble are attracted to the bright, beautiful colors. These spirits will go in the bottles and become trapped. The sun will then burn up the evil spirits in the morning. Just think how many terrible spirits they will catch on Halloween night. The bottles will also keep spirits from entering your home.
Blue bottles are for health, and they catch the evil spirits spreading sickness. When the wind blows, you may just hear the moan of the evil spirits.
Did You Know?
Bottle trees are also called "haint" trees, haint meaning ghost.
Where Did They Come From?
Some say they originally came from Europe, where people used them in their gardens and yards to keep evil spirits away. Others say they were brought to America from Africa by slaves.
Whatever the true story might be, bottle trees have been in Southern gardens for a very long time.
Bottle Tree Alternatives
If you don't want to put up a tree, or you just don't have the space, here are some alternatives:
- Hang a jar in a tree and add colored water.
- Place a series of metal rods in the ground, and place a single bottle on each.
- Place bottles directly onto old trees in your yard.
- Buy a witch ball. These were hung in cottage windows in 18th century England to ward off evil spirits and come in many pretty colors.
All of these options are said to capture evil spirits, so pick whichever one suits you best.
Festive Bottle Trees
I love decorating my bottle tree for the holidays. They really brighten up a cold, winter garden! Putting icicle lights inside each bottle works particularly well. Even with white lights, your tree will still be colorful.
Bottle Trees as Gifts and Around the Neighborhood
My aunt has wanted a bottle tree for a long time, so her children found a welder and commissioned this one for her backyard. They live in Michigan and said they are seeing more bottle trees around the city every day.
More of them are showing up around our town as well. I love all the blue in the second tree below. The bottle trees below are photos I took around town.
Bonus: Bottle trees are even showing up in movies! One can be seen in the movies Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) and Wanderlust (2012).
Bottle Trees for Sale
The top photo below is taken of bottle trees in Menards, the price $59.95. I think this is a ridiculous price. A similar tree can be bought online for about $20.00 to $30.00. You can even get them with solar lights in them.
People also sell them at garden shows.
Many places either sell or have named their companies after the bottle tree, such as Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch on route 66 in Barstow, California, or The Bottle Tree Beer Company in North Carolina.
Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch
Your Garden Will Be the Talk of the Town
Ever since my husband put up our bottle tree, we've had people drive by and slow down to look in our yard. My husband and son were wondering what in the world they found so interesting. I told them they were looking at my beautiful bottle tree. They just laughed, but I know it's true. These trees are eye-catching and special, and will make your garden stand out.
Each bottle tree has its own charm. I hope this article has given you ideas on how to create yours.
Selling Bottle Trees At Garden Shows.
People are now selling bottle trees at garden shows such as the Lakeland Garderners show in Lac Du Flambeau.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 moonlake