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How to Make a Simple Bottle Planter

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Posted: 11:01AM October 9th, 2017 | Comments

The harvest season will soon come to a close here in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean you're home gardening days have to end. I've found that sustaining a home garden throughout the colder months is actually an easy and rewarding experience. In the past I've kept a simple herb garden on the windowsill. This year I want to expand my operation into greens and maybe even tomatoes! To do this I'm going to combine a few different indoor window gardening methods adapted from this UW-Madison Plant Pathology department document. I would like to make the project as inexpensive and environmentally-conscious as possible, so I'll be repurposing materials I have on hand.



Clean plastic bottles - I'm using 28 fluid ounce Gatorade bottles because it's what I could find, but feel free to use whatever is available to you. They just need is to be large enough for your plant and to have a cap.

Small amount of knit cloth or rope - I'm using an old clothesline that was originally from the hardware store.

A soil-less potting mix - I'm using a mix of perlite and peat moss from my local garden store.

Seeds for your plants


Plastic wrap



Scissors or a retractable blade - Just something that can safely cut through a plastic bottle.

Drill - Using a drill is optional.



1. Cut the bottle in half with the scissors/blade.

2. Cut about a 5 inch piece of the rope or the knit fabric.

3. Either drill a hole in the center of the bottle cap the size of the rope/fabric and feed the rope through the hole, or simply fill the bottle opening with the rope/fabric. This will act as a wick, pulling water from the base of the bottle into the top.

4. Fill the base if the bottle with water.

5. Flip the top of the bottle into the base. Make sure the wick stays in the bottle and extends at least 1 inch into the water.

6. Fill the bottle with dampened potting mix. The wick should be big enough to prevent the mix from falling through the bottle opening.

7. Plant your seeds. Different seeds require different planting depths so check the package.

8. Wrap the top of the bottle in plastic wrap while the seeds germinate. At this time they don't really need sunlight but do need warmth. I'm going to keep mine in our bathroom until they sprout.

9. Finally, once the seeds sprout up about an inch you can move the plant to a window with adequate sunlight.


You may want to cover the water in the bottom half of the planter to prevent algae from forming. I've just made a sleeve with recycled paper for this. My small apartment demands efficient use of space, so when I want to add more plants I'm going to attach the bottles to make a vertical growing system to hang in my window. I’m excited to see how my plants develop - and hopefully have access to fresh locally-grown herbs all winter long.


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