Want to create a bottle garden full of luscious houseplants? Here’s how to do it
There’s a huge buzz around houseplants at the moment, from cacti and air plants, to all manner of low-maintenance specimens.
Creating your own bottle garden, containing a variety of easy-care houseplants, can provide an eye-catching centrepiece to a table or sideboard, with the least amount of fuss and mess.
We attended a Squire’s Garden Centres masterclass to find out how to do it.
1. What you’ll need
Start with a glass bottle with a wide base – to allow maximum space for your plants – and a wide opening you can easily get your hands into to plant your mini indoor garden; it’ll provide the plants with good ventilation, too.
You’ll need a small bag of potting grit to allow good drainage and help avoid waterlogging, and a small bag of cactus and succulent potting mix.
Of course, plants are key. Use denominations of odd numbers, which are easier on the eye – we used five. Cacti and succulents are the ideal choices. You can use upright sansevieria to create height, while aloe vera, cacti, echeveria, sempervivum and Crassula ovata (money plant) are all suitable to grow in a bottle.
2. Create good drainage
Use a small empty flowerpot to transfer potting grit into the base of the bottle. It needs to be around 2in (6cm) deep to provide the drainage your plants will need.
Press and smooth the grit so there are no air pockets, then make a slight dip in the centre of the grit, into which you’ll pour the potting mix. That way, the compost won’t touch the glass and you will be left with just the grit and the plants visible from the side.
3. Pour in the potting mix
This is made from compost ideal for cacti and succulents. Use the small flowerpot to transfer the compost into the bottle, pouring it carefully into the dip in the centre so you don’t get potting compost on the glass. Create a small mound – the plants won’t need much root depth.
4. Position your plants
Your bottle garden is likely to have a front and back, so use taller plants like upright sansevieria at the back and low-growing plants such as sempervivum at the front. You shouldn’t need to water them before planting. If they are dry, they are easier to pot.
5. Don’t overfill your bottle
Give the plants plenty of room to allow as much air circulation as possible.
Once you have planted them in the compost, firm them in so there are no big air pockets and the soil is even. Don’t plant them too deeply as you are going to finish off the bottle with another layer of grit and you don’t want the plants to disappear.
6. Finish off with another layer of grit
This last stage should be done carefully, so you don’t damage your plants. Use a small, clean paintbrush to dust grit off the leaves.
Alternatively, cut out small circles of fleece or scrap material to lightly cover and protect the surface of your plants, particularly the leafy rosette kinds, before you add the final layer of grit to hide the compost completely. Remove the fleece once the grit has been added.
7. Personalise your bottle
Add small stones, flint or slate, which may match the décor of your house, or even add elements of fun, such as Lego characters or shells.
8. Water sparingly
The plants in bottle gardens tend to be slow-growing and should last for a few years before they need repotting.
Water lightly once or twice a month in the winter, using a small watering can with a narrow mouth so you can direct the water on to the compost. Try not to get water on the leaves, as this can lead to rotting. If you see water pooling at the bottom of the bottle, you’ve gone too far.
In winter, they will need less watering than in summer. Do the finger test – if you put your finger in the compost and it comes out bone dry and clean, you may need to add a little water.
9. Give them light
Succulents and other bottle garden plants need plenty of light, but preferably not direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Don’t put them close to radiators.
10. Remove dead leaves
If dead leaves appear on rosettes and other plants, remove them to stop the plants rotting, and if it’s clear they are struggling, move them to a lighter, drier area. They don’t like too much humidity so avoid putting a bottle garden in your bathroom. Rotten leaves indicate too much moisture.
Remember, most people kill their houseplants with kindness and these bottle garden beauties need very little care.
Squire’s Garden Centres are holding bottle garden planting masterclasses with succulents on March 15, priced £25. For details and to book online, visit squiresgardencentres.co.uk.
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- 7 things to eat and drink to help beat disease – according to a Harvard-trained doctor - March 20, 2019
- On International Happiness Day, we’ve found 9 of life’s simplest pleasures - March 20, 2019
- Are you drinking out of the right wine glass? - March 19, 2019
- Everything you need to know about HIIPA: The new way to get fit without going to the gym - March 18, 2019
- 4 things you need to know about matcha - March 18, 2019
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!