DIY Plant Watering Globes

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on May 24, 2010

Keeping herbs in planters right off of my back stoop is pretty and convenient-I can just pop outside and grab what I need right in the middle of cooking.  But it has it’s problems, the largest problem being keeping those dang planters watered.

Any kind of pot kept outside requires much more frequent watering than plants that are in the ground-there is just limited soil to retain the water.  My planters compound that issue by being situated under the house eaves-so even though rainfall is pretty frequent in Upstate NY, those plants need to be watered almost daily.

And I am forgetful.

I just have a lot going on in life most the time, and I have a hard time remembering to water those planters every day all summer long.  In the spring when gardening is new and fun-yes, I remember.  By July? Well, not so much.

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of those water globes you see on TV infomercials.  They seem kind of goofy-and a bit expensive.  I wondered if they even worked-and I wasn’t willing to spend the money to find out.

Well, several of my gardening friends have assured me that if you start out with damp soil and you put a long necked bottle full of water into the soil, it will indeed slowly release the water as the soil dries out.

A ketchup bottle was suggested as a perfect frugal implement for this-but I don’t use much ketchup, and the bottles I buy tend to be those large family size ones that don’t have the long neck.

So just a few minutes ago I was down in the basement putting something away when my gaze landed on the cluster of wine bottles we’ve been saving. . .

Ah-ha!

I filled one up* and stuck it in the planter.  The water didn’t all pour out as I was afraid of. . .

So now all of my herbs are “lushes”. . .

Wine Bottle Watering

Everyone getting a good "drink" ;)

DIY Watering Globe from Wine Bottle

Lemon Verbena-what a lush. . .

I just love ideas that save you money, are useful, and repurpose/recycle something you already have on hand.  Way to be frugal and green eh? This project didn’t cost me a single cent!

And you don’t have to spend any money to do this either. If you don’t drink wine (and therefore lack bottles) I’m sure there are other bottles that would work-or you could ask around for wine bottles from friends, neighbors, or even your local restaurants!  Shoot, someone on Freecycle or Craigslist is probably looking to get rid of some glass wine bottles right this minute :)

Although my wine bottles aren’t as pretty as those “art glass” style watering globes, I don’t think they look bad-although I don’t think Yankee Bill is going to be quite as pleased as I am with the look.  If the looks are an issue for you just remember, as the herbs or plants get taller they will block out the bottles more. And if I wanted to get all crafty on you I could decorate the bottles with mosaic tile, spray them with that frosted/colored glass spraypaint, or use something like modge podge (did you know they make a special outdoor kind now?) to decoupage it somehow.  Then again, if you hate the look that much you could just remember to water your planters every day and then forget the whole idea.

Now as a disclaimer-I literally came up with this idea five minutes ago-ran to the basement, filled all the bottles and stuck them in. . . so I don’t have any proof of how this will work in the long run. But I was so dang proud of myself that I had to share it with you all immediately!

If this works well in the long run, it could also be a great way to keep plants watered while on vacation.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has already tried this, or if you have any other great ideas of how to keep pesky potted plants from drying out.

*Note: All of these bottles had already been carefully rinsed.  You probably don’t want to have the dregs of the wine mixed with water going to the roots of your plants. . . I am no botanist, but I’m pretty sure that would kill them.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

kelliinkc May 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Brilliant!! And I just took off a box of glass bottles to the recycling place!! Oh well, good excuse to buy some more wine! :-) Now, I think that I will aim for shopping for good wine and colorful/decorative bottle at the same time. Hope it works. Keep us posted. I love the vacation idea part.

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AprilG May 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I think it’s a great idea and there are so many pretty wine bottles out there. Please let us know how they really do work out for you.

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Amyrlin May 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Jenn,
I don’t think anyone else wanted those as seen on TV watering globes either, they did not sell from my store until they went on clearance but the goofy brownie pans is a hit:)

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Condo Blues May 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm

How are they working? I tried the same thing with a two liter bottle and used a bit of rag as a wick when I went on vacation. I’m not sure who well they worked on not because I was out of town and couldn’t refill them as needed.

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melissa May 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I just saw a suggestion to bury soda bottles in the ground next to thirsty plants, cut the bottom off the bottle and put it in upside down so you could do just about the same thing. Can’t wait to try both ideas.

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Karina House May 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Have you ever seen a drunk plant? :) I bet they really make a fool of themselves…. Great idea; I’ll have to find another kind of bottle but I’m sure I can.

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Anna Rutz May 26, 2010 at 8:18 am

Great idea Jenn!! I do actually have a couple of the globes that you see on tv and they’re too small anyway, I still have to refill them every few days for my big plants and then that memory thing really messes everything up anyway. Since we make our own wine, we have plenty of bottles that I have EVERYONE save over the year so I’m going to switch all my bigger pots to wine bottles TODAY!!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Wait, you make your own wine? How come I didn’t know this????

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Stacy May 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Just want to say what a great blog you got here! I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

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Amanda May 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm

The watering globes DONT work. My husband bought them for me due to the fact that I never remember to water the plants and I always killed them. As soon as you stick them into the soil it plugs up the end and no water can come out. Such a waste of money!!!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Hmm-the concept itself seems to work for me-the water does eventually & slowly soak through that plug of soil. The problem for me is more that the store bought ones look so SMALL. . . they look like they would barely hold any water at all.

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dr doodle September 2, 2013 at 8:48 am

It’s important to make a hole in the soil (can use a dowel rod or similar) BEFORE inserting the water globe. This will largely eliminate clogging the stem with dirt and allow it to function as designed.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

Great tip!

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Luchen Foster June 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I love this idea! I’m thinking I might decorate the bottles with some paint so they look like little pieces of artwork in my planter boxes :)

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mom2fur June 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

Hey, it was nice to hear from you! I really haven’t been by in ages, have I? I’m bookmarking your site so I don’t let too much time go by between visits again.
I’m glad you liked my little rag wreath. I totally LOVE your watering idea! Those ‘globes’ really are pricey and probably break easily, anyway. Me…I’m always killing things because I forget to water them. This sounds like the perfect solution.

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Bankruptcy Ben June 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

How long does a bottle of wine last. Have you put anything in it to delay the water coming out like cloth or anthing?

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

Ben-The water drains out in my big outdoor planters within the day-but the water is actually getting down to the roots of the plants slowly-rather than sitting mostly on the top and evaporating while the rest runs out the bottom. So I feel that it does a much better job of getting the water to the plant. I haven’t tried it on indoor plants yet-but I’m sure it would last much longer without the direct sun and wind causing the soil to dry out so fast.

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kathryn April 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

you can try putting a pour spout (like the one on the bottles in a bar) to help the watter drain slower.

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Kat June 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I have tried those “as seen on TV” globes and yes they are small but for my smaller house plants they work just fine. Oh and yes I waited until they were on clearance to buy them.

I also did the DIY version with water bottles (yes I know they can be expensive, but we need some from time to time – especially when my son was home as a volunteer fireman/emt). My deck is ALWAYS in the sun from probably 10-11AM until sundown. Now this is great when you have some kind of covering but your plants in planters/containers really get thirsty.

I took the water bottles (removed labels if possible) and cut off the very bottom of the bottle. I took a nail and hammered it through the cap, removed the nail and but the cap back on the bottle. Put the bottle, cap side down, into your container/planter, fill with water ……. and voila your very own plant water minder.

I have 2 hanging in with my herbs, 1 in my small tabletop herb basket and 2 in my big container. I also have 1 in my petunia planter that sits on my table. Because the top (I mean bottom) is cut off – if it rains, you get some “free” water for later.

So far it is working great.

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Mar February 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

i was just looking up on those water globe things and was really happy to find a much more economic way of doing the same thing. thank you so much for posting your ideas, i will try it immediately. i am really excited! i live in Belize and all year round it’s hot and sunny, and watering my potted plants everyday is a real chore. thanks again. if i have any ideas i will make sure to share…..

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Dave May 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

With the rubber wine corks you can drill a hole to control the water usage. It will last longer for vacation times or when you forget!!!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Dave-Interesting idea! If you try it, I’d love to hear how it works out.

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Unity September 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I just found this and I am trying it for the herbs I am bringing in for the winter. If this and the plant lights that Dh is going to try and make for me work then I will have fewer herbs to replace come spring. Thanks for the idea, I had been trying to figure out what to do with some pretty bottles that I couldn’t throw out and were starting to stack up under the sink. :)

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 21, 2011 at 6:36 am

You are obviously a kindred spirit-I hate getting rid of interesting bottles and jars

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Un Wanted November 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

I can’t believe that I did not think of this idea! but I’m so glad that I did not simply close my eyes and pull the trigger and buy that set of Globes from the lady on Craig’s List (kudos, Hi-Five and Chest-bump to me). I’m too anal to ever forget to water my plants, and now vacations seem to be few and far between. However if I could clear some mental space (even if for only a week or so) by not having expend the effort to physically stick my finer down in the soil of each plant to determine if I need to add water, it’s totally worth it, and it totally enhances the experience of downing the bottles of MD-2020, CISCO, or Four LOKO etc.
Other perceived benefits-
Because watering takes place below the surface, this may/should significantly reduce the chance of infestation of insects like black-gnat, which we all know live and breed on top of moist soil that never dries out (over watering), and terrorize you whilst watching the Oakland Raiders win games they should loose.

Nowha…(as my teenage daughter would say), I only have to glance at the bottle sticking out of my plants to determine if it’s time for a refill or not.
Don’t worry about over or under watering. Thankfully 100% of plants are not like 99% of us silly Americans… GLUTTONS, they only take as much water as they need from the soil.

Ok I’m stepping down off my high horse now. Oh yeah, did I say thanks for the post.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

Let me know how it works out for you!

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daneil912 December 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Im attempting this. i have a 14 in tall yew as a table top christmas tree and my apt is very dry. i rinsed out a soy sauce bottle and will see how it goes.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate December 6, 2011 at 5:35 am

Daneil-Just make sure the soy sauce bottle is very, very clean before using it. . . soy sauce is high in salt-and salt is a classic way to kill plants (back in the ancient days an army might actually “salt the earth” to make ground uninhabitable. . .

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Alex July 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Great idea! I am going away for a week and this is going to be perfect. Now i just have to go drink a couple bottles of wine :)

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Lisa Bellar August 7, 2012 at 8:36 am

I loved ready this form today… I’ve been killing my in-house plants because I just don’t water, actually when they start dying is when I realize “oh, they need some water”. I was looking at those globes when I came across this form. I have the perfect bottles and I’m going to start today! Thanks all for the suggestions. Lisa

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Ellen September 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Wonderful idea! How cool is this! I’ve been looking for a solution for when I leave for a few days on vacation or weekend trip. I don’t have so many wine bottles, but I do have sparkling mineral water bottles! That will work! Thanks for the great suggestion, Lisa. You’re a genius.

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Dani December 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm

What would you suggest for smaller planters?

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate December 3, 2012 at 8:52 am

I’m not sure. Maybe a soda bottle?

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Jeanette May 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

What about beer bottles for smaller plants? I love this idea and am going to try it with my many wine bottles!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 13, 2013 at 8:10 am

I’m not sure–it can’t hurt to try!

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Monica December 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

Great idea!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

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lisa December 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thanks so much, I am going to try this and hope that when we come back from our xmas break our herbs are still alive. I am pretty sure they will be!
I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2013 from Australia

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Shawne March 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm

@ Jan…when you use the wine bottles…do you have a cap with holes or something because what is keeping the water from all running out? I googled a site of how to water plants using plastic bottles. It suggested putting a few holes in the cap, which I did. It said that the water would drain out when the soil was dry. When I held the bottles upside down, they don’t drain out but once I put them into the soil, they drain. When I lifted it out, the water did not run out. It only seems to empty once in the soil.

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Shawne March 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Sorry…@ Jenn

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I just stick them right in the dirt Shawne :)

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Kim March 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm

THANKS FOR THE IDEA!! I have the aqua globes which work great but I think the wine bottle idea is even better!! Cheers :)

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Theresa April 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Looking at a recurring bin full of coke and beer bottles I thought this might work so I’ve been searching the internet for ideas. I will use the Coke and Corona bottles as is, but plan to decorate the other ones. Some instructions I’ve seen look complicated but I have enough ideas to try my own thing. The most consistent thing seems to be a lid on the bottle with two holes I in it. Some people used tubing, but I’m going to try it without. You can also use plastic bottles. I noticed my neighbor doing this and that’s when I knew the idea should work with glass.

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Ben April 17, 2013 at 7:56 am

Using a liquor pourer to slow down water flow probably won’t work. Liquor pourers actually have two holes to allow air into the bottle to create an even flow. (I own a bar) The water may just keep flowing out.

I imagine you can use any glass bottle with a long neck on it for this. A short neck won’t work because it won’t go into the dirt far enough. Plastic bottles generally don’t have long necks and even if they did, it wouldn’t be stiff enough to push into the dirt. I think a perrier bottle would be perfect for this because the neck is tapered. Then drill a hole in the cap if you want to slow down the flow

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Jon May 13, 2013 at 12:35 am

For house plants I’ve made my own automatic watering device from a used water bottle, straw and some disposable chopsticks. I make a small hole in the lid of the bottle using a corkscrew or screwdriver, then make the hole to the exact size of the straw by poking a chopstick through the hole and making it gradually larger. Once the hole is the right size then the straw goes in, it must fit tight into the hole so there is no leaking. Then the bottle is filled with water and the straw pushed into the soil. The chopsticks can be used to suppost the weight of the bottle and stop it from falling over. It doesn’t look great, but is useful for watering plants while you are away from home.
And here is one I made earlier: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonparry/8731128586/in/photostream

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 13, 2013 at 8:10 am

Thanks for sharing!

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ScrimplyThrifty June 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I’m going to assume that since the post is still up and you are commenting that it is still working well for you. It’s an awesome idea, I have been trying to find a use for those pretty green olive oil bottles that I didn’t want to throw away. Those will be nice outside and maybe not as obvious as clear or another color? Anyway, I’m thinking some beer bottles (or similar) would be nice for house plants. I will now also be able to put potted plants out side of my sliding door too. I haven’t yet because I don’t have a hose back there to water. Hope they hold up in the Texas heat (at least it won’t evaporate). Thanks for the great idea.

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Kee July 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Have you tried Ollas? Use of ollas is a centuries-old irrigation system using buried unglazed clay pots filled with water. We are in a severe drought in New Mexico, and many people are using ollas in their gardens, raised beds and containers for watering. Check out this website: http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2008/03/24/using-ollas/

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate July 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Kee–I’ve heard of the concept but haven’t tried them personally. Usually where I live in the north east we have pretty regular rainfall–it’s the small pots and containers you have to worry about–I guess if you used a small unglazed pot buried in the container then you could use it similarly. . .

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Nicki Greenwood August 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm

So funny that you should have thought of this. I have a really big pot on a full-sun, south-facing deck that never seems to get enough water. I have a plastic bottle in it right now, but I was thinking the long neck of a large wine bottle would work so much better. Glad to hear it does!

I had purchased a couple of those art-glass watering globes, and they do work, but they run out of water fast in a pot placed in full sun. They are also extremely thin glass, and break easily. The sturdier wine bottle seems like such a great solution. Gotta try it! Thanks for the feedback.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate August 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

See, great minds think alike :)

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kylee August 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I just looked on amazon for something like this and the sell ceramic cones in sets of four that you put wine bottles in for 18 $! Its the samei knew thing without the cone they tried to make it sound so special i almost fell for it glad i surfed around a little! thank you!
I knew i was saving all my bottles for.a.reason

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Tammi April 8, 2014 at 10:20 am

I’m very happy to discover thi site. I wanted to thank you for
your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to see new information in your blog.

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Denise Fennell April 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

You could always remove the wine label, paint some chalk paint on the bottle and then write the name of the plant on the bottle :)

I’m wondering how long the water in the wine bottle lasts. I may have to test this out today.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate April 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

It really depends on your weather how long a bottle will last.

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Anna June 8, 2014 at 9:11 pm

This is such a great idea. I used a wine bottle and put a hole in the plastic cork. It works like a charm. The water comes out a little bit at a time. I have 6 outside pots and I am going to try each suggestion listed here to see which one works best for me. I love the idea of reusing a bottle and saving some money at the same time. Thanks again!

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