Bottle Garden

OCT 2011
My latest design for using plastic bottles for indoor gardens is my Self Watering Propeller Bottle Garden!
The thing I like best about this is that it dosent ever need watering so you can seed it and leave it!
The method is using a Large soda bottle with 6 smaller ones cut and drilled into the sides and sponge used as a wick to soak up the water.
I have had one growing for about 3 weeks and and is doing very well, i think you will need to top up the main bottle about every 2 weeks.

Tools used:
Hand Drill, 1 inch drill bit, Scissors, Clear gutter Silicon,

1 Large Soda bottle, 6 x smaller Soda bottles, 2 x kitchen sponge, growing medium,

Fill the large soda bottle with water and freeze over night, this makes it easier to drill holes.
Then drill 6 x 1" holes around angled edge of bottle. Then thaw ice from bottle under warm tap.
Cut the small bottles in half about 2/3rds along bottle, then cut a slot with curved end between the label area.
Add silicon to neck of bottle and thread into hole of big bottle, repeat for all bottles.
Cut sponge to about 1 inch wide and thread threw small bottle neck into big bottle to form a wick.
Fill with growing medium and fill with water  / mix, place cap on main bottle.
wait 24 hours for soil to absorb moisture then seed choice of plant to grow.
In my example I used Coriander / Cilantro and spinach.
top up main bottle level about every 2 weeks.

SEPT 2010
Part 2 of my Hanging Bottle Wall Garden,
video of the whole system working and full with 27 strawberry plants.

SEPT 2010
My new Design
Hanging Bottle Wall Garden

AUG 2010
I am working on the old green wall / living wall concept I had and used the new hanging garden idea to come up with a free standing Hanging Bottle Garden Farm wall panel that can be moved anywhere.
I intend to make it part of my Aquaponic set up .
video update will follow soon.

AUG 2010

Just a look at the progress of my hanging bottle garden farm and a new idea of 2 holes in the bottle , 1 in front and 1 in back.

AUG 2010
Hanging Bottle Garden farm video now finished. Step by step guide for making a Hanging bottle garden farm.

JULY 2010
Hydroponic Hanging Garden. Great method for growing veggies and herbs in a confined space, easy to look after, create a mini green house environment in any window.

Supplies needed. !
in this case i used 8 oz -600ml water bottles (preferably all the same)
Roof & gutter Silicon,  6 small squares of sponge, 
Vermiculite plant growing mix, Blind cord /sash rope,
lighter and knife, tape measure,
2 1/8 (64mm) Drill bit hole cutter, 1" drill bit,
1.5mm small drill bit, small pliers, Philips screw driver,
small 1.5mm stainless stele nut and bolt,
battery or electric drill.

To make your Hanging Hydroponic Garden collect your plastic water bottles preferably all the same size. Depending on how big your window is will decide what number of bottles to use, you will need 1 at top and 1 ant bottom for watering and what ever you can fit in between. mine has 7, 5 growing compartments
First fill up water bottle with water! and stick it in the freezer. 
TIP: leave room for water to expand when frozen and turn label to face up this is where air bubble will settle and is not a drilling side?  WHY? because drilling the holes is a lot easy with a frozen bottle, try it unfrozen and see what happens!!
Drill a hole with a 2" 1/4 bit on the lower side, also drill a 1" whole on base ( check size of bottle neck you have it may be bigger or smaller)
slide a card sleeve around lower part of bottle with hole and spray top half with matte black paint. ( this helps the roots to grow in the dark)
Finished painted bottle ( I will repeat this 5 times for my specific project you may do more or less depending on window size )
Take one bottle to create top feeder, drill frozen bottle with 2 1/4" bit at the bottom of bottle, also drill 4 small holes in bottom side to tie rope threw, i used blind sash rope and a metal ring, cut 2 pieces of equal length rope feed threw tie add ring and tie to opposite side, cut excess string and seal with lighter to secure knot, add a square of sponge in neck of bottle
get 2 lids and join together with silicon
once 2 lids are dry drill 1 hole in center and 6 round edges then use a small stainless steel nut and bolt to add extra strength
get as many lids as you have growing bottles and drill 2 small holes in center of caps, I used about 1.5mm drill
This bottle is your water collection chamber drill a small hole near top, this will allow air to escape as water drips in bottle (TIP: mark hole with marker pen so when you re-pour you don't spill the water )
Using a clear silicon ( I used drain and gutter silicon) place a bead around neck of bottle and twist it into the bottom of another bottle place a square of sponge in neck of bottle and place on the lid with 2 small holes. ( the sponge will slow the transfer of water from one bottle to another and act as a filter)
Once they are connected fill  vermiculite or similar to top of black area using a scoop, ( my scoop is made from a plastic bottle) 
this is how it should look ( mini version) top hanging bottle followed by grow bottles and last bottle has the double joined cap and the collection bottle, which allows you to reuse the feed water.
Use a good hydroponic food mix with water, (TIP: run fresh water threw a couple of times before seeding to cleanse and wet the vermiculite)
pour liquid food into top bottle about 1/3 full, this will slowly drip feed all through the other plant areas to bottom collection
water fills the bottom collection bottle, i normally reuse this about 2 times before using fresh mix
This is my first 4 hanging gardens with 5 growing bottles in each, first one has just been seeded with strawberries, 2nd run is top 2 chives and bottom 3 coriander / Cilantro, 3rd one is spinach and last one organic  mixed lettuce
spinach about 3 weeks  and lettuce about 5 weeks
coriander / spinach / lettuce

I have enjoyed this method of indoor growing and you can use it any where even move it with the sun, it is a perfect micro green house and as you can see maximize space for growing a healthy dinner, I will carry on filling up my conservatory with them and latter will join a 1 time water feed to do all of them at same time watch out for this post.

JULY 2010
My Project was to create a Green wall / living wall using recycled plastic water bottles, I wanted to use as many waste product parts as possible.
I started with drilling a 1" hole in bottom of bottles and 2 x 2 1/4 " holes in sides, then joined them together end to end.
I realized that the only way water would travel all way threw would flood the bottle to half way making it to wet to grow so used a plastic drip pie cut in lengths and L corner joints to complete the loop, I then made lots of drip holes in each growing area for water to leak threw.
I built a wooden frame to fit snug to the size of bottles and brackets on back to support them ( This was a mistake, next time ill use something like peg board to give more support)
I used zip ties to attach each neck of bottle to back support straps
I sprayed  everything Matt black to make it look nice.
sprayed back too
then i filled with a light peat mix and vermiculite growing compound ( the weight made all the bottles sag a great deal)
finely added as many green house plants ferns etc as i could get, I really didn't get enough to make it fully covered but it still looked cool!

I them drilled small hole in top and added a tube to top pipe for watering, the last bottle was left uncut as a collection chamber, i originally intended to attach a solar water pump to the collection chamber to re-pump to top again but never completed it!

This is the Green wall several months latter!
The main problem was watering! the water would pass threw the pipe too quickly and not allow enough to soak threw drip holes, My next one I will cure this by adding a piece of sponge in the tube at every joint to slow the water transfer process down, You can also see the support wasn't adequate and the weight crushed it all down. The angle of the bottles holes should have been more upright too!


  1. Have you ever thought about using wine bottles at the bottom to collect the water?

  2. Thank you so much for this post Dean. I started looking into indoor gardening and hanging bottle gardens but am afraid it's a little too complicated for me. I have two brown thumbs and don't know much about gardening so I was looking for a good beginner's project that was simple and wouldn't require a lot of investment in time or money. I think I can do you the five (or six) bottle for starters and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your demo video and for sharing your idea.

  3. Hi Dean! this is great! You reckon would work using soil instead of doing it hydroponic?

  4. These look really interesting - thanks so much for sharing in such detail.

    2 years on, how has it worked out? I wonder if the herbs got root bound in your first version, (with 4 bottles tops plugged into one central bottle), or did they grow through to maturity just fine?
    Did the holes cut both sides work? Did you have to keep turning the bottles around so each side got enough light?
    How did it go taking out the old plants at the end of the season? Do the bottles stand up to the stress, or did you need to make new planters each year?
    Are you still using these, has it proved to be an idea that keeps on working?


  5. hi. Thanks for sharing such an awesome post. was really interesting to know about it.

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  6. wow man
    big sceintics are debading you cant farm in upward
    drawing complex buildings
    and here you go and prove the concept

    at least one person i that i cannot replace whit a robot

  7. Hi Dan,

    I've been trying to drill holes into frozen bottles, but they keep cracking. Any ideas? I'd also be very interested to hear the answers to the questions that Miriam posed as well.



    1. Heat an angle in the flame of the owen (with the help of a pincers), try burn holes with it.

    2. Hi Maria
      Check my comment dated March 11, 2014 where I suggest a quicker alternative.

  8. Hey Dean, you are a genius man. Recycling bottles and using it for gardening is a unique concept which I haven't seen before. You are recycling water too which is a precious resource and I think is a only viable option for gardening. Recycling water for your grow room requires expertise hence a little knowledge is always beneficial. Why don't we all check some simple procedures of recycling water with the existing systems used in our garden.

  9. Very informative site. I am about to embark on a similar adventure on my 23rd floor, north facing balcony, main difference being, rather than sunny Sydney, I am in cold, wet and very windy London! Will check back to your site to pick up tips as I know I will need some!

  10. Thanks for the share Dean, very interesting and well made website. I was wandering whether you could give me an estimate of your yield and how self-sufficient you are (also regarding your balcony garden and the aquaponics), as I am trying to write a similar project to enhance food security in the West Bank. :):)

  11. Unbelievable efforts! Congrat from Hungary, Europe. Edit

  12. It's nice post here are shown,i hope nice post here in future.

  13. Great !!! This is so phenomenal!!!That is very impressive! Bottles are gorgeous and the makeover is totally amazing. I love it. You really did a super job with the Bottles! I use to do buy online Bottles as its time saving.

  14. Great post. i am very impressive. love it! your work is so good.
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  16. Very interesting blog, I love your detailed description, thanks! A quicker alternative to freezing the bottles and drilling holes (and less risk of cracking): get a basic pointed soldering iron (size shaped like a medium-sized screwdriver). Plug it in/turn it on and when the iron is hot it will create holes by melting the plastic like hot butter.

  17. This is fantastic - thank you for all of the great demos, Dean! I had the same questions as Flo up above - I wanted to try a system like the one with 5 bottles between a top one for watering and a bottom one for catchment, using a soil medium instead of vermiculite but am unsure of how well the water would drain. Does anyone have any advice or thoughts?

    1. I'm trying 50/50 mix of potting soil and perlite. I have 3 bottles. I hope it flows well.

  18. Wow that's so creative!! I am using one of h2grOw's Grow Kits. It's alot less work, if I had more time I would try your method! Great post :)

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  21. Very nice and attractive way to planting. I am CRAZY about houseplants. They really brighten up a room. I think ferns are the easiest, and they look so pretty! visit here for Online Garden Store and make your home beautiful.

  22. Wow, what a great post this was thank you so much! This was some great facts and tips that I didn't know about. Summer night gardening with my kids is my favorite activity and I get to spend quality time with them. I'm trying to build up my gardening supply collection so we can have more tools to work with.
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  24. Hi, this is a wonderful project! Just one question, these bottles are normally classified as PET 1 bottles. Since these bottles are exposed to the sun, I assume that I can't plant food in them? Not safe to eat?

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