How to start a bottle garden.
As it gets wetter and our attentions turn inward for winter it’s a good time to consider houseplants, here are instructions on how to make a bottle garden – the easiest of ALL indoor plants. The only sort of arrangement that requires almost no effort whatsoever is a bottle garden, or plant terrarium.
Bottle gardens water themselves by harvesting moisture from the air when moisture condenses on then as the surrounding air temperature cools at night the air inside the bottle condenses on the cold glass and waters your plants.
Fine powdered charcoal is the first thing to add, this keeps any spoilage bacteria locked up and increases the life of bottle garden, a well made bottle will last for many years. Dry the soil on a radiator for a few days, this means it will pass through the funnel easily and will be much less likely to stick to the glass.
Don’t use succulents, like you see in the supermarket terrariums, as they will rot, use plants that thrive in damp conditions, especially miniature plants that will accentuate the appearance, Irish or Scottish Moss, Babies Tears, for example. Here is an excellent plant choosing website for any situation, very highly recommended. EBay user, rurallj, has produced this excellent list of plants suitable for bottle gardens. I’m using Mossy Saxifrage and Babies Tears.
Make a plant delivery bag by chopping the bottom of a small plastic bag, put the plants inside one at a time and shake them out the bottom.
Bio-char is charcoal that has been steeped in a ‘tea’ that is teeming with beneficial life forms, it will feed and nourish the garden for many years – it might seem expensive but only a teaspoon is needed! Being that your bottle garden is a little eco-system with relatively little input from the outside world it is worth giving it the best start. Don’t fret if you can’t get any – most people leave it out with no problem and it can always be added later.
I’m attracted to demi-johns, usually used for home brewing, but they are tall and have very narrow necks, so are difficult to work with. Shorter containers are easier. Here I’m using a length of bamboo as a tool, you can stick a fork to the end for different jobs.
Run the newly planted demi john under the shower to clean the outside and a little runs down the inside of the glass to re-hydrate the bone dry soil and charcoal.
Each morning the bottle should have a little condensation on the inside – if not, you may need to add a little water.