How to Set Up a Bottle Garden
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Published by TOP4 Team
A garden in a bottle? That’s possible. Here’s how to set up a bottle garden.
Choose the container.
You can use goldfish bowls, fish tanks, balloon brandy glasses, sweet jars, carboys and other large glass bottles to house bottle gardens. You can leave the bottle’s mouth open, or plug it with a cork or rubber stopper. Either way, always use a container with a wide neck for easier maintenance.
Make the equipment.
You can make tools from household items attached to 45-60cm sticks or canes. For example, a spoon can serve as a spade, a small but sharp knife or razor blade for pruning, a sponge for cleaning the glass, and a cotton reel for firming the compost around the plants. Tools used for manipulating aquarium plants also suit the bottle garden.
Good drainage is crucial for plants in a bottle garden to thrive. You need enough clean gravel to make a 5cm deep layer at the bottom of the bottle. If you will plant a garden in a narrow-necked bottle or carboy, you need some kind of funnel (many bottle gardeners use paper or thin cardboard rolled into a cone) to keep compost away from the glass as you pour it in. Lay down a 7.5 to 8cm layer of ordinary compost — peat-based or soil-based.
Plant the garden.
- Begin with the outer plants and work towards the middle.
- Scoop out a hole for each plant in the layer of compost and, holding the plant between two sticks as if they were chopsticks, lower it gently into its hole.
- Fill the hole around the roots and firm in the compost round the plants using the cotton reel tool.
- When planting is complete, clean the inside of the glass thoroughly with dampened sponge.
- Water the plants using a long-necked watering can and train a gentle stream of water against the inside of the glass. You need very little water that’s just enough to clean the glass and moisten the compost.
Look after it.
If your bottle garden has a cork or rubber stopper, you may find the glass misting up from time to time. Remove the stopper until the mist clears, then replace it. You may never have to water your bottle garden again, since the moisture inside the bottle will circulate indefinitely. If the plants look as if they are in need of watering or the compost is becoming dry, it does no harm once in a while to water them sparingly.
You can also give them a weak liquid feed using a plastic funnel and a narrow tube to avoid splashing the leaves and the glass. Place the bottle garden in good light (but not direct sunlight) and give the bottle a quarter turn each day so that all the plants get their fair share of light. You may need to prune them every year using razor blade or sharp knife.
Starting or maintaining a garden? Get professional help from gardening experts.