Let me first preface this by saying... I am not an expert of cacti or succulents.
However, I can share with you, my own experiences and tell you that some of these bottle plants have been living happily for over a year and seem to be still going strong.
This bottle cactus idea originated from a conversation with a friend while we were sitting around having a beer:
Friend: You fuse glass, right?
Me: I try… why?
Friend: Can you do something cute with the pile of bottles over there?
Me: Like what?
Friend: You are the artist… surprise me!
Me: Sure, why not.
The gauntlet was dropped.
I was to repurpose used bottles that had been piling up for a different project that never happened.
To be honest, they had been piling up for quite some time. (I guess my friend was bothered, either by the amount he has drank, or, by the sight of all the trash cans full of empty bottles).
Step 1: Materials I Used:
- Eye protection. Safety first!
- Empty glass bottles.
- Drill. I used a Dremel.
- Diamond Bits
- Running water or container with water large enough for the bottle to submerge.
- Plants. I used succulents. Potting soil. I use Cactus soil.
- Fertilizer (food plant). I use the granular kind.
- Cork or the original bottle caps.
- A chopstick or Thin long dowel. To use to poke the soil through the neck of the bottle.
- Sharpie. This is optional. For those perfectionists out there, that want everything to be exact or alike. Estela, the engineer, this is for you.
Step 2: Be Careful What You Read on the Internet...
I read somewhere that Glass Containers (or anything that doesn’t drain well) isn’t recommended for long-term potting for succulents, especially during the winter or raining season.
So far, this has not been my experience.
Succulents do not like to sit in soggy soil. So, if you use too much water or they are left in the rain too long, your succulents will not be happy.
As a result, and as cute as they are, they don’t make the best indoor house plants.
They need lots of sunlight and proper watering.
Step 3: Collect and Empty the Bottles.
This is a very popular step and the easiest to get help with.
I already had my donated pile.
We had been contributing for a while. ;)
Step 4: Remove the Labels.
Since the bottles I used were left outside for a decent amount of time, this was easy for me. But if they are persistent, I would soak the bottle(s) in hot water for a couple hours.
Some folks include dish soap in the soak or use remover solvents like “Goof Off”.
Wash off any residue or chemicals.
Don’t want to contaminate your plants before they even have a chance.
Step 5: Drill the Hole. This Is Where the Plant Will Live.
If you are making several bottles you may want to use a sink with water when drilling. You will save water and you do not have to worry about the glass overheating and cracking.
Always remember to wear your safety glasses. If you wear prescription glasses, there are a few trendy safety glasses that can go over your own. For this instructable, I went for simple and cheap which is why there isn’t any picture of me with them on. I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything like that. ;)
You are going to need one hole per plant.
This is where the sharpie can come in. Mark where you want to drill the holes before your drill. Plan ahead and watch for balance.
As the plants grow, it will add more weight and the location of the holes can make the bottle tipsy and no one likes that.
My favorite drill bit or tip is a ¼ inch round. Why? Because you do not have to worry about the position of the tip or the correct angle. I use a 45° angle when drilling glass because it seems to make drilling easier.
Use a steady even pressure. Too hard will crack the bottle. Cheap beer has cheap glass. You have been warned.
You can feel the drill going through. Just go nice and easy. Have patience. I like to move it around in little circles, making sure it stays wet, with steady pressure until is done. *Did it just get hot in here?* Maybe that’s just me.
Once you have made the hole, I like to change the bit to a bigger one and redrill the hole until I have the size I want.
You need to be able to get the roots planted through the hole without hurting them. This is where size does matter.
The holes end up close to ½ inch.
Step 6: Filler Up.
Fill the bottle with soil, through the top, a little at a time, up to the first hole.
Use your chopstick to help it along.
Insert the plant/root of the plant, into the hole, until the root is completely in and the plant is flush with the bottle.
Add more dirt and a few grains of fertilizer. Not too much. Like a pinch.
Compress the dirt, but not too tight. The roots need some leg room.
Take your time. Empty another bottle if you need to. ;)
Repeat if you have more holes in your bottle or you get to the narrow neck.
On a typical bottle, leave the narrow neck empty. That will be used for your watering space (e.g. Skyy vodka = about 3 inches, Soda = about 2 inches, etc…).
Step 7: Give the Plant a Drink (water)... Not a Beer!!
If it is the shorter neck bottles fill the neck up with water at least three times. Longer neck can be just a couple. Remember, they do need water but you don’t have to saturate them. After you water them, put the cap or cork on to seal it. This will retain the moisture like a terrarium.
If you overwater or end up with too much water. Keep calm and don’t cap. Let it sit in the sun a couple days so some of the water can evaporate. Cap when it looks moist but not too wet.
Put in a sunny place.
With a proper seal and initial watering, you may not have to water them again for a very long time.
Step 8: Take Away
I have some plant bottles that have gone over a year without any additional water. Those were well sealed. Those without good seals, such as those with cut corks, I have had to water once or twice. I think it was because they weren’t sealed properly and the water evaporated faster.
You can tell when they need some love when they start to wilt, droop, or loose their color. Some even begin to yellow. That is when I add a pinch of fertilizer and add water. Three neck fulls of water for shorter necked bottles and a couple for long necks.
These have been living happily for over a year and counting without any additional watering!
I Hope you like this project, have fun and be safe. Remember to use your safety glasses.
If you like this instructable, don’t forget to vote for it.
Until next time. Bottles up!