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How to Grow a Bottle Garden

Updated on August 08, 2013
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What Is a Bottle Garden?

A bottle garden is exactly what it sounds like: a tiny, self-sustained, sealed garden in a bottle or jar. It's basically a tiny terrarium. So, why would anyone want to grow a garden in a bottle? There are several characteristics that make a bottle garden fun to own and awesome to create.

My first bottle garden, sealed for 3 months and counting. Look how much it's grown!
My first bottle garden, sealed for 3 months and counting. Look how much it's grown! | Source
My first bottle garden, the same day I made it.
My first bottle garden, the same day I made it. | Source

Benefits of a Bottle Garden

  • Bottle gardens can be made entirely out of recycled household materials.
  • Bottle gardens are easy to make and fun to design. It's a great project for kids both in the classroom and at home.
  • Bottle gardens are extremely low-maintenance. In fact, once your bottle garden gets started, it will only need watered 2-3 times a year.
  • Bottle gardens are an attractive and unique décor item for your office, dorm room, apartment, or anywhere else that gets a little sunlight.
  • Bottle gardens are a great way to bring some greenery to spaces without room for a real, outdoor lawn or garden.
  • It's a delight to watch your bottle garden grow.
  • Bottle gardens make thoughtful and eco-friendly gifts.

Will you try making your own bottle garden?

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So, How Do I Make a Bottle Garden?

There are lots of instructions that claim you need all sorts of ingredients to make a proper bottle garden. Sand, activated charcoal, gravel, and cheesecloth are a few commonly recommended items from other tutorials. Feel free to try those if you want to get fancy, but my version is extremely basic and doesn't require the purchase of any materials you can't find at home for free.

Don't worry, from my experience with this method, your bottle garden will still look beautiful and flourish without any of the extra stuff.

Some of my materials for making a bottle garden.
Some of my materials for making a bottle garden. | Source

Materials

Here's what you need to get started.

  • One clear glass bottle or jar. You can also use a clear plastic bottle, but I think it looks much classier with glass.
  • Soil. You can use purchased potting soil or natural soil from a garden or park (if you don't have a lawn or garden). Either works fine, and you won't need much.
  • A small plant. Choose a type of plant that stays very small or grows very slowly. Groundcover plants are a good choice. I use angel's tears (Soleirolia) because they're small, low-growing, and abundant where I live, so it was easy to get some.
  • One pencil or chopstick.

OPTIONAL:

  • Coffee grounds. Cooled coffee grounds are good to mix with your soil because they help retain moisture.
  • Tiny bits of compost. I add a layer of chopped-up compost bits to the very bottom of my bottle gardens for fertilizer.
  • Decorative items. I add shiny pebbles to my bottle gardens to make them more attractive. Consider adding a pretty stone, a marble, a bit of glitter, or other decoration for fun.

If you're using compost, chop it into tiny bits and add to the bottom of your jar.
If you're using compost, chop it into tiny bits and add to the bottom of your jar. | Source
If you're using coffee grounds, mix them with soil.
If you're using coffee grounds, mix them with soil. | Source
Add moistened soil to your bottle or jar. Use a chopstick or pencil to keep it off the walls of the jar.
Add moistened soil to your bottle or jar. Use a chopstick or pencil to keep it off the walls of the jar. | Source
Add your plant.
Add your plant. | Source
Add decorative objects if desired.
Add decorative objects if desired. | Source
Seal your bottle or jar.
Seal your bottle or jar. | Source

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly clean your bottle or jar. Make sure there are no bits of food or greasy residue stuck inside, and completely remove any outside labels, including scrubbing off the adhesive gunk.
  2. (OPTIONAL) Chop up your compost. If you're not adding compost, skip this step. If you are, chop it up into tiny pieces and add them to the bottom of your jar. I used a bit of lemon peel.
  3. (OPTIONAL) Mix coffee grounds with your soil. If you're not adding coffee grounds, skip this step. If you are using coffee grounds, cool them first and mix them with your soil at a ratio of half and half.
  4. Moisten your soil. Add water to your soil or soil/grounds mixture until is is moist but not soggy.
  5. Add soil to your jar. Spoon the moist soil in carefully. Fill the bottle or jar about 1/3 full of soil. If you used compost, the soil should completely cover it.
  6. Arrange the soil. Use the back end of your chopstick or pencil to break apart clumps and gently level out the soil. You can also use your instrument to push off any soil bits that are stuck to the sides of your bottle or jar.
  7. Poke a small hole with the pointy end of your pencil or chopstick. It should be shallow.
  8. Add your plant. If your plant is a cutting without any visible roots yet, simply place its base in the small hole to keep it in place. If your plant has roots, place the roots in the hole and use your pencil or chopstick to gently push soil over them.
  9. Add water. Do not put the jar directly under the tap. It's very easy to accidentally add way too much water (which means you'd have to start over). You want the soil to be very moist, but not waterlogged. The easiest way I've found to add just the right amount of water is to hold your hand under the tap and then let the water drip from your fingers into the jar.
  10. (OPTIONAL) Add decorations. If you're not adding decorations, skip this step. If you are, be sure to use only small items so your plant will have plenty of room to grow.
  11. Seal your bottle garden. Put the lid on tightly and place it in an area that gets some sunlight.

When your bottle garden is done, you shouldn't need to give it much additional care. Just water it once every 4-6 months. My first bottle garden has been sealed for 3 months and counting, and it's flourishing nicely without any additional effort on my part.

My First Bottle Garden: Day 1

Here's what my first bottle garden looked like the day I made it.
Here's what my first bottle garden looked like the day I made it. | Source

My First Bottle Garden: Month 3

Here's my first bottle garden 3 months later. It has remained sealed the whole time and it's growing happily.
Here's my first bottle garden 3 months later. It has remained sealed the whole time and it's growing happily. | Source

My First Bottle Garden: 5 Months

It has been 5 months, and my bottle garden was starting to look a little scraggly and brown. I broke the seal to give it a bit of water before closing it up again.

Comments

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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      How clever this is. I have bookmarked it as I love to grow all kinds of things and definitely will be giving this a try.

      Angels are on the way shared :) ps

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Awesome, pstraubie48! I'm sure it will turn out beautiful. :)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is just about the coolest thing ever. I want to make one. Voted awesome and shared!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      How cute! I love these and I think the kids would like them too. We'll definitely give them a try.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is so interesting! I love gardening, whether growing plants indoors or outdoors. And this is worth giving a try.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      I'm loving this! I'm a gardener at heart and my outside gardens are beautiful but woe be any plant that enters my house! Then I turn into a plant killer....this is perfect for me. Your instructions are easy to follow and I love how good your bottle garden looks.

      Voted up, useful, and interersting.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is very beautiful and interesting. Enjoyed reading this and this is the first time I am coming across a bottle garden. Definitely worth a try. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Garlic Angel profile image

      Christine 3 years ago from Dublin

      What a great idea. I have just moved into an apartment after living with a garden for 11 years. I loved my garden and miss it so this would be a great idea.

      I'm going to give it a try. I will let you know how it goes.

      Thank you for sharing this idea with us.

      Garlic Angel Pinned and Bookmarked :-)

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks so much for the comments. I hope everyone has a great time trying this project! Thanks for reading. :)

    • Brian Prickril profile image

      Brian Prickril 3 years ago from Savannah, GA

      Fun! I'm already thinking of tiny "snow globe" type characters to add to mine. Thanks!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country

      My granddaughter likes to grow things. I'll bet she might like to try this. Thanks.

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 3 years ago from USA

      This is fun and creative! Voted up and sharing!

    • lafamillia profile image

      lafamillia 3 years ago from Soutcentral Europe

      Fun and creative just as Bishop55 said.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Yes, for my grandchildren! (Had to put it here :) because it isn't in the voting list above.)

      I recently read about a very old closed bottle garden--England, I think. Now that I have your directions I believe I'll have to make this a winter project. I love them because they display the power plants contain!

      It looks like you have a bit of root on your plant, not just a cutting, but can you tell me more about light. Do you keep in a sunny window, or near one on a table, and how much sun, just a few hours, or all day sun? I'm thinking of starting with a dwarf thyme.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This would be a cool project to try! I love plants, but have never tried to grow any small ones in a jar before.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, including your 5 month update (that's always helpful), and have a great day!

      ~ Kathryn

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      I love this! How fantastic! My daughter loves plants. But every time I buy her one, the cat eats the flowers or leaves off of it even when we put it up high. I am totally going to do this with her. That way she can have a little garden on her windowsill. I still have seeds left over from summer. Thank you so much for this brilliant idea!

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, everyone for your kind comments! My bottle garden is still alive and well-- it's been about 8 months so far. :)

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @RTalloni I keep mine on a windowsill. That side of the house doesn't get a lot of direct sunlight, but it gets natural light all day. I think it depends on the type of plant you're growing as well.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Awesome! I like the way you added the compost. that is a new one on me. Shared, pinned!

    • joaniebaby profile image

      joaniebaby 3 years ago

      What a great idea. Can't wait to try one myself. I don't have room in my house for plants but I think I can find a spot for one of these. Voted up, awesome and useful. Thanks so much.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks--looking forward to finding the perfect containers for my grandchildren's homes. Just reviewed your directions and saw the link to the video (duh) on that long-term bottle garden. It's amazing. :)

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 3 years ago from West Palm Beach

      Oh so pretty. I do not have a green thumb, so I love the low maintenance!

    • Bryce 3 years ago

      I'm doing a project for bio do u think this will last a couple of months in opened

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      It should! Mine is doing just fine and I only open it every 3 months or so. :)

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Christy Kirwan - what a nice idea - a little bottle garden would make a great gift for someone.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love cool ideas like this. What a great project this would be for kids. I see we share a lot of the same followers, all quality people and writers. I guess I better follow you too. :)

    • Christy Kirwan profile image
      Author

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for the kind words, Sally and Bill! I'm so glad you enjoyed this project!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub ; I have always wanted a bottle garden and I shall certainly be giving it a try. Thanks for sharing and voted up.

      Eddy.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      Wow! My father will say I´m crazy again when he see me doing it. I would love to grow a bottle garden. Thanks for sharing your awesome idea. I love it.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 2 years ago

      So cute! What a great idea as gift, or for a kid's project, or just because my green thumb is tingling! Loved this!!

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 2 years ago from Sweden

      Sounds like really fun acitivity to do with my kids:)

    • Shar-0n17 profile image

      Sharon 2 years ago from Perth

      Great idea for kids to try, and it would not take up much space either

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Christy ,

      I really enjoyed this fantastic hub. It was well-written. Loved the lay-out and use of graphics. I couldn't vote any other way but Up and all of the buttons. I loved this idea. Great job of illustrating the Bottle Garden.

      You have a wonderful gift for writing. I admire you for the job that you do.

      I am going now to leave you some fan mail that I want you to read. Then I am going to follow you. I simply ask that you look at two or three of my offerings and be one of my followers.

      Thank you sincerely.

      Kenneth, from northwest Alabama.

    • marieloves profile image

      Marie 2 years ago from Canada

      What a great idea. I will definitely give this a go! Thumbs up!

    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 23 months ago from Maine

      This is so cool! I can't wait to try it myself as soon as I can actually get soil from the ground again.

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