How to Grow Plants in Bottle Gardens

Bottle gardens are both popular and amusing. All you need for a bottle garden is a very large bottle, jar or carboy. Fill it 6-8 inches deep with a good potting compost to which you have added a little charcoal. It is a good idea to pour the dry soil in through a funnel as the sides of the vessel should not be covered in soil. (Damp soil will not pour in easily and may stick to the sides.) Your plants will have to be inserted with the help of sticks on which spoons or trowels are tied. Make sure the plants are small as this is a delicate operation.

Cover the plant roots with soil as well as you can by jiggling the spoons about. If you are not very successful at this do not worry – the plants will root themselves when they have been watered. When you have put in all the plants water them by dribbling the water down the sides of the bottle. It is not necessary to water a bottle garden as often as a pot plant, because a lot of air cannot get in, and the plants make their own climate. And if the bottle is corked or stoppered it will only require watering about once a year. It will, in effect, be self-watering – moisture given off by the leaves condensing on the side of the bottle and dripping back down to water the roots. Stand your bottle garden in a good light but not in direct sunlight or the glass will get too hot.

Good plants for bottle gardens are those which are slow growing – Peperomia, Maranta (Prayer Plant), Zebrina and Tradesccintia (Wandering Sailor), and Pilea (Aluminium Plant). These all have particularly decorative leaves. Dead leaves and other undesirable materials are removed by cutting them off with a piece of razor-blade wired to a cane; they can then be lifted out on a pointed cane. The amount of debris which collects in the bottle will be kept to a minimum provided you choose suitable plants. Exactly the same principles, with less fuss, can be applied if you want to plant a large goldfish bowl, brandy glass, wide-necked jar, or a pan which can be covered with a bell glass.

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