DIY Plant Watering Globes

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. . .


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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  1. kelliinkc says

    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.

  2. says

    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.

  3. Amyrlin says

    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:)

  4. says

    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.

  5. melissa says

    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.

  6. Karina House says

    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.

  7. Anna Rutz says

    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!!

  8. says

    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!

  9. Amanda says

    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!!!

  10. Luchen Foster says

    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 :)

  11. says

    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.

    • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

      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.

      • kathryn says

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

  12. says

    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.

  13. Mar says

    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…..

  14. Dave says

    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!!!

  15. Unity says

    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. :)

  16. Un Wanted says

    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.

  17. daneil912 says

    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.

  18. Alex says

    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 :)

  19. Lisa Bellar says

    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

  20. Ellen says

    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.

  21. lisa says

    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

  22. Shawne says

    @ 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.

  23. Kim says

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

  24. Theresa says

    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.

  25. Ben says

    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

  26. Jon says

    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:

  27. says

    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.

    • says

      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. . .

  28. says

    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.

  29. kylee says

    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

  30. Tammi says

    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.

  31. says

    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.

  32. Anna says

    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!

  33. karen edwards says

    I used a large blue wine bottle in my front window box and it is working quite nicely. Thank you!!

  34. Angie C. says

    Thanks so much for helping me “think outside of the box”! I am going to use my long neck glass Coke bottles in place of the water globes now. I had several of them and loved them, but the thin glass was too fragile and a few of them broke. I had originally bought them at Walmart but couldn’t find them anywhere this year! I am getting ready to take a week’s vacation and was worried I’d come home to dead plants. But now I don’t have to worry!

    What does concern me is that the end of the bottle may act as a magnifying glass and heat the water too much. So I think I’m just going to paint the bottom of the bottle with a light colored paint I already have here at home to block any heating effects, but leave the sides clear so I can see when they are empty.

    There was another post that mentioned she didn’t like that the tips of the waterers got clogged with dirt. Actually, as long as the is only a small clog of dirt, that works very well as the “wick” to pull water from the bottle as the soil around it gets too dry. Just thought I’d add that thought in for her and others who think the dirt clog is not good.

    Thanks again! Love your articles!!! :)

    • says

      Glad this idea works for you. I never had a problem with the sun heating things up too much–but I’m in the cloudy North East. Using a light paint to reflect the sun sounds like a good idea!


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