Have you seen an inspirational photo and are now curious as to how you can make a vertical garden from plastic bottles? Vertical gardens are great for saving space. And a vertical garden made from recycled plastic bottles will help the environment which means it’s beneficial for you and the earth!
The short version is this: To make a vertical garden from plastic bottles, you will need clean plastic bottles, rope, soil, and seeds or seedlings. You need to cut openings lengthwise in the bottles, cut holes for strings, and cut some holes on the bottom for drainage and irrigation for the plants below. Then fill the bottles partially with soil and voila - you’ve got a plastic bottle vertical garden!
In this article, we’ll cover all the basics you need to know about making a vertical garden from plastic bottles. If you want to know bottle gardening techniques, how to grow plants in plastic bottles, and which plants are best suited for a bottle garden - we wrote this is the article for you.
How to grow plants in plastic bottles
Before you put soil in a plastic bottle, you’ll need to consider what your plants need to grow and survive. Regardless of which container you use all plants need drainage, space for roots to grow, as well as access to sunlight and water.
Before placing soil into the empty plastic containers, it’s important to make small holes throughout the bottom (or the side, depending on whether the bottle will lay horizontal or vertical) and cut off the top. By poking small holes throughout the bottom, this will allow water to flow through quickly rather than pooling which can create damage such as overwatering.
It’s important to choose a plastic bottle that will allow sunlight to flow shine through. Because of this, clear bottles (or very light colors such as light green) are best for this project. You may also want to consider if your hanging bottle vertical garden will be in direct sunlight. Excessive sunlight may overheat the plastic thereby overheating the plants inside.
Some plastic bottles are flimsy and may not stand the wear and tear of changing weather and temperatures. Choose plastic bottles made from durable materials and ensure your vertical garden is secure and won't fall due to wind or extreme rain.
Your plastic bottle vertical garden will likely have water run-off and can help water the other plants you have, creating a self-irrigation system. Ensure this water run-off won't disrupt neighbors or incur structural damage.
What to consider before constructing your plastic bottle vertical garden?
The plastic bottles for your garden wall can hang either vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference. If you have a specific choice, you could design a layout in such a way that’s aesthetically appealing. The most important factors to consider when constructing your plastic bottle vertical garden are:
- Access to sunlight
- Protection from extreme elements
- Use of durable materials
- Proper irrigation and drainage
- Viable seeds or seedlings
Mainly, it comes down to time, space, and preference. Ultimately, so long as you create your plastic bottle vertical garden with the key factors we mentioned above in mind, you’re sure to have a beautiful and flourishing garden in no time.
Vertical bottle gardening techniques
Whether you want the beauty of climbing vines across your balcony wall or the simplicity of a few succulents strung across your patio, there are many options available for plastic bottle vertical gardens that you can complete over a weekend or less. Here are some of our favorites.
Wall hanging bottle garden
Lay a 2-liter plastic bottle on its side, horizontally, then cut out part of the side. To hang the bottles, you’ll need to then cut out four small holes, two on each side. They should line up with each other. Using rope, wire, or twine, thread through the holes with and once it’s all the way through, tie a knot in the end. Cut the rope at the desired length and hang your beautiful bottle garden!
Self-watering bottle garden
This option is perfect if you want to set your bottle garden out and (almost) forget it. This self-watering bottle garden is easy to make and perfect if you're going to start small yet yield great results. All you need to do is cut three or four small holes in the neck of the bottle. Then, cut the bottle in half and flip it over, so the neck is now inside the bottom of the bottle.
In the bottom of the base pour a bit of water — approximately ⅔ full. Then, in the neck of the bottle, add soil, fertilizer (if you choose), and seeds. The water will leech up into the soil as needed, and the bottle is essentially becoming a sub-irrigator.
Two-liter soda bottle vertical garden cut in half
This one is done just as it sounds, by cutting two-liter soda bottles in half and using the bottles with the neck facing downwards. The bottles can be mounted to a pallet using clamps and can arranged any way you like. Many people want to arrange them so when the top plants are watered they drain into the plants below.
Bottle garden with herbs
This project can easily worked on over a few short hours. Pick up a small piece of plywood from your local hardware store. Carefully cut the neck of a 2l bottle off, only leaving a little less than half of the bottle. With the neck pointing down, secure it to the plywood using a screw or clamp. Place soil inside the neck of the bottle and voila - a small-sized bottle garden to grow your favorite herbs.
It’s good to note that any bottle garden that calls for soil in the neck of the bottle will require something to clog the opening to ensure the soil doesn’t spill out. We like to use recycled paper loosely stuffed, or you’ll need to carefully poke small holes in the lid and place the cap back on the bottle.
Which plants are suitable for growing in bottles?
Virtually any plant that doesn’t eventually grow into a large plant or tree can grow in a plastic bottle. All plants have roots and they need space to grow downwards just as much as the stems and leaves need to grow upwards.
Herbs are a great plant to start with as they’re relatively easy to grow and are small. Another great option is vines or ferns however creepers may require support if you want them to grow upwards.
It’s important not to overcrowd seedlings or plants in a bottle. We recommend two small plants at most per bottle.
We have some great vertical gardening plant guides you can use to find inspiration and information -
What soil should you use for your plastic bottle vertical garden?
Good soil is key to a great garden. Although you can use garden soil we recommend using a high-quality potting mix. While garden soil is readily available once it’s in a bottle it won’t have the same nutrients; it would in the ground. With the potting mix, you’ll be able to give your plants an extra oomph to start growing.
Which type of plastic bottles are best?
There are different types of plastic used however some are better suited for the use of a plastic bottle garden due to toxins that could potentially seep into the soil. There are seven types of plastic that are labeled and most often used commercially. They are identified on the plastic item by a small triangle with a number in the center.
- PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate
- HDPE - High-Density Polyethylene
- PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride
- LDPE - Low-Density Polyethylene
- PP - Polypropylene
- PS - Polystyrene
- Other - BPA, etc.
Of these seven, the best plastics to use in your garden are #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE, and #5 PP. These three are often used for food storage, are safe for garden use, and can withstand heat and light. You'll readily find these plastics used to make plastic bottles and containers however if you're in doubt be sure to check the base of the bottle.
We hope this article has you excited to reuse and recycle any plastic bottles you have in your home! It doesn't matter if you're a professional gardener or beginning to develop your green thumb. A plastic bottle vertical garden is a perfect way to help the environment while giving back to the earth.