DIY Self-Watering Planters

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If your thumb is anything but green, join the club. Watering indoor plants, as easy as that might sound, just isn't one of my strengths. I forget to water them, and then when I do remember, I overwater to compensate. Fortunately, there's an easier, more reliable way to water your plants. These self-watering planters provide a constant supply of moisture, and they're so simple to make with used plastic soda bottles. Your plants will definitely thank you.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic soda bottle

  • Hobby knife

  • Drill

  • T-shirt scrap

  • Scissors

  • Toothpick

  • Potting soil mix

  • Seeds or plants

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 1: Cut a Plastic Soda Bottle in Two

With a hobby knife, cut a clean, empty plastic soda bottle crosswise in half. I used a 1.25-liter bottle. The bottle does not need to be cut exactly in half. Plastic bottles usually have grooves in them, so I followed along one of the grooves right under the label to cut a straight line.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

You'll now have two sections: the top half with the bottle cap and the bottom half. Remove the label from the top section if you wish.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 2: Smooth the Edge of the Cut Bottle

The top section with the bottle cap will be the top of the planter except it will be inverted. Let's smooth the edge where it was cut so it's not so sharp. To do this, heat a pan on the stove for a few minutes. Then, turn over the pan and hold this section of the bottle against the pan to smooth it out.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

This technique gives you a nice, finished edge.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Drill a Hole in the Bottle Cap

Drill a small hole in the bottle cap. I used a 7/32 drill bit.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Cut a Strip of T-Shirt Fabric

Cut a strip of a white cotton T-shirt to about 1 by 8 inches.

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Step 5: Thread the Fabric Through the Hole

Thread the strip of T-shirt fabric through the hole in the bottle cap. It helps to use a toothpick to push the fabric through.

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Then, screw the bottle cap back onto the bottle.

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Step 6: Drill Holes in the Bottom Section

The bottom half of the soda bottle will be the water reservoir. Drill four to five small holes in this section for air holes. I used a 7/64 drill bit. Make sure these holes are above the intended water line.

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Step 7: Fill the Planter With Soil

Fill the planter (the section with the bottle cap on the bottom) with soil. If you are planting seeds, you'll fill it to the top with soil. If you are transplanting, then only fill it part way to accommodate the plant. Make sure the cotton T-shirt strip extends to the top of the soil rather than getting buried at the bottom.

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Step 8: Add the Plant

If you are transplanting, add the plant on top of the soil already in the planter. Three-inch potted plants fit perfectly in a 1.25-liter bottle.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 9: Fill the Water Reservoir

Add water to the bottom section of the plastic bottle, making sure you don't fill it above the air holes. Then, drop the planter into the water reservoir so the fabric strip sits in the water.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Water now travels from the reservoir into the soil as needed. These self-watering planters are particularly helpful if you're going to be out of town for a few days and don't have someone to water your plants. Plus, they look quite elegant despite their humble origin as soda bottles.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

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