Picture of Self watering recycled vase
Nice way to recycle plastic bottles and grow your own food. :-)
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Step 1: Material List

Picture of Material List
Material List:

a) a plastic soda bottle (empty)

b) a piece of cotton string

c) sharp knife

d) hot piece of wire to make a role in the bottle lid

e) some dirt with seeds

f) little patience.

Step 2: Cut the bottle

Picture of Cut the bottle
First empty the soda bottle, and cut it in two. Note that the bottom part should be bigger than the top part! Be careful.

Step 3: The lid

Picture of The lid
Use the hot wire to make a role in the bottle lid. A small role will do. Pass the cotton string trough the bottle lid.

Step 4: Assemble

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Put the lid back in the bottle, and turn it upside down. Cut the cotton wire and make sure its length is the same as the whole thing.

Step 5: Add dirt+seeds

Picture of Add dirt+seeds
Now you add the dirt with seeds. Make sure the cotton string is strait.

Add water to the bottom part of the bottle, you do not want to put too much water in it.

The water should not touch the lid.

Step 6: Let it grow!!

Picture of Let it grow!!
Add water only in the bottom part, never trough the top of the vase, otherwise the water will come down with dirt and algae will start to grow.

Water will come up and will keep the earth moist.

Plants will grow nicely.

Have fun!

Any ideas are welcome.
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bitcrossfire11 months ago

I made quite a few of these, and started up a small garden once the seedlings grew too big for the bottle. Also I just used a bunch of 0.9fl oz water bottles, I didn't have any cotton string so I cut up a 97% cotton shirt and it worked out very well. I really enjoyed this project, very simple and easy, thanks for posting.

bitcrossfire11 months ago
infob2 years ago

I used two 6 liters water bottles, it means arround 4 liters of water in the bottom one and another 4 liters of earth in the other.

To fight algaes (because outdoors the rain will flow through the soil to the bottom part) I added in the bottom a few physa snails (a.k.a. "plage aquarium little snails")

xACIDITYx4 years ago
I'd really like to know how long, on average, a single "serving" of water will last for. I'm going away for a few weeks and need a way for a few spearmint plants to survive without me.
busywoman656 years ago
I was wondering if the cotton string goes all the way to the top of the dirt so all of it gets watered or does it work that way? What kind of vegetables can you grow in a small container like this?
bbullet (author)  busywoman656 years ago
yes it does goes all way to the top, u can make some rounds midway up to moist more. You can grow anything that fits, or use it as a starter for bigger plants.
In mine I do not have a string that goes to the top of the soil. If the soil is good for plants, it should draw water up the same way the string does, but moreso, because it should have more water potential.
If the plant is supplied with water directly, it will not have much of a need to stretch out its' root system. So having the string extending only a little bit up through the soil rather than the entire way up should, in theory, encourage growth of the root system of the plant because it will have to grow outwards to obtain the necessary water.
to put water back into the lower part of the vase, is there a way to do that besides having to take out the plant each time?
tonic45 years ago
I had everything i needed within about 5 feet. I read this, and made it in about 10 minutes. We had bought a cheap mop with the cotton strings on it for the wicks in our tiki lamps. That worked well, just had to make the hole a little bigger. Thanks for the fun idea. When my kids are older we'll do this together.
bananite5 years ago
I don't have cotton string, so I cut up an old white cotton t shirt into long, thin strips and used those, as seen in this instructable:
Giving this a go. Planted some Columbine flower mix. If some of you are new to gardening like I am try out, helped me out quite a bit and very informative.
One note I want to point out here... Columbines are a very picky and difficult plant to grow. From the time I posted this article until about a week ago the plant seemed like it was going to die or fail. But just last week it bloomed it's first flower. Very awesome. While the wicking method described here did NOT work using EMBROIDERY FLOSS, I do believe it will work as described in the instructable with COTTON string.
By "role", you mean hole, right?
bbullet (author)  superforestnyc5 years ago
That´s right, I´m sorry about my poor english. :-)
iancremona5 years ago
Great method! Here has a similar way to do it, it's done by resizing a pot with minimal tools (and does not contain any PVC). 5 stars
Jojokittie5 years ago
Does it have to be COTTON? Or can it be a wool string?
does it have to be string? can i use that thin clothsline type cotton rope/ line stuff?
bbullet (author)  unaffiliatedperson5 years ago
you can use anything made of cotton.
canno6 years ago
great idea 5/5 very simple will having more strings affect the moisture and will thicker strings affect it too
Thanks you so much! I used this in my Biology project! I was so excited!!
Hegpetz6 years ago
This is an awesome idea! Thank you very much for sharing!!
chuckr446 years ago
I. Love. It. Excellent design. 5 stars, and I don't give those out lightly.
If you add a nutrient solution you also have a basic in soil hydroponic system. Ive used a similar method with fantastic results.
Nice instructable, I really like it. How well do you think the plants will last in a rather chilly dorm room? I tend to keep the temperature around the high 50's to low 70's. It's usually in the 70's and 60's tho. Does anyone recommend any plant in particular? Flowers are nice, but a more practical plant would be nice too. Thanks.
If you keep the temp around 70 (F), both pothos/devil's ivy and chinese evergreen are great plants. They're extremely hard to kill, i.e. great for dorms. Can't let it get too cold, though. They love low, diffuse light, and water once a week. If it's not too humid where you are, look into a humidifier or mist them regularly.
startfresh6 years ago
I've made plenty of these, and they work great! I usually use a 2-liter bottle. I always put a hole in the bottom bottle a lil' high up so I can add water, instead of removing the top bottle.
Great idea! I had a teacher that used this idea to draw the leaky roof water into a garbage pale! I am going to try this and share it on my show too! Will link back to you.


urban14136 years ago
excellent idea
benin6 years ago
u got great ideas..... like it best regards
I love this idea. I'm going to try it next August when I plant tomato seeds. Thanks for sharing.
I live along side the Colorado river in Arizona. My tomato plants live outdoors from October and into June. Once the day-time temperature reaches 100°F the plants stop producing fruit. They die off when the temperature gets around 110°F. They're thriving right now, growing an inch a day, as the daily temperatures are only into the 90s.
you plant tomato seeds in august? Where are you???
bbullet (author)  brabantia6 years ago
I live in Brazil, here we can plant almost anything all year long. :-)
bluefringes6 years ago
I'm wondering if this idea can be combined with Mr E Man's "Almost Free" DIY Hydroponics? I mean, can hydroponics be done using a cut in half plastic bottle?
boyrock3756 years ago
a simple solution to the salt build up problem is that you could use distilled water. and to make up for the lack of mineral's you just add fertillizer as needed
danjo7 years ago
By only watering from the bottom you might eventually have a salt and mineral buildup in your soil. (Mostly if you're using hard tapwater or maintaining the container for a long period of time). As the water moves up into the soil and evaporates it leaves behind any trace salts and minerals, they'll build up over time. Normal watering tends to flush these out the bottom. If anyone has ever used one of those double layer african violet pots they may have had similar problems. Not a reason not to do this, but just to be aware of so you can troubleshoot effectively if your plant starts suffering.
Distilled water should help with that shouldn't it? What about rain water? Could be a good idea to give them a periodic flush to help with the problem. Smart thinking danjo!
The bottoms can also get a green algae growth since sunlight gets in through the clear bottles. It should be pretty easy to take off the base and give it a quick hand rinse if it's looking dirty. I would actually avoid distilled water because it may be missing minerals and nutrients that the plant may need, but that depends on the particular water and plant. I haven't tried any plant food or fertilizer....hmmm... Thanks
thats false. plants dont get minerals to survive from their water. that should come from the soil. think if a plant is wild the rain is in a way distilled water because it evaporates then condenses again. so as long as u have rich enough soil. the less minerals in the water the better. distilled is the way to go as far as this project goes
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