Sunday, 2 April 2017

Bottle gardening

So it is a very long time since I posted anything to my blog.  Time has passed and life has meandered and flowed and waterfalled as life does.

I have had a go at a good many creative things along the way and my latest try is bottle gardening or terrarium planting or miniature gardening! I love these little ecosystems.

It is a great pass time and very therapeutic and the results are great. I have a large bottle that has been planted for about 6 months, the plants are thriving and beautiful.  I also have 2 smaller bottles that are doing equally as well and some succulent mini gardens ( I may do a post on these in the future) .  At last I have found a way I can keep plants alive!

I thought I would do my first post in over 2 years about planting up a demijohn. So here goes:

First collect your stuff- I have learned a lot along the way and am still learning as I'm just at the beginning of this particular path in my life!


So: Small sized gravel rinsed; old funnel with the spout cut off; demijohn or any other bottle or jar; sphagnum moss; reindeer moss ; houseplant compost; activated charcoal (I use the stuff that is used in fish pond filters); old wire coat hanger; a grabber- the sort of things that are useful for picking up screws and nuts and bolts; plants ; a champagne or cremant cork; time; patience.

2. Clean your bottle inside and out as well as you can.  Then using your funnel if you wish,  to add the gravel until you have about 3 to 4 cm depth.

 This is how deep one of mine was.

3. Put in your activated charcoal, just a thin layer will be fine.  This helps to keep the environment of your mini ecosystem sweet and good.

4. Next a layer of sphagnum moss, this helps to filter the water and keep moisture in.

You just need to push this in as best you can, it does get a bit messy. Firm down when you have enough in.

5.  The compost is next, although I try to use a funnel the only good way to get this into this size neck of bottle is to just push it in with my fingers.

6. Firm down the compost after adding a little water to dampen the garden.  I use the coat hanger tool I have made.

7. Next begin to add your plants.

This is where the grabber tool comes into its own!  It helps lower the plant into the garden, move it around and hold it still while you plant it.  This is not an easy 2 minute job but that's the challenge and pleasure of this little pass time!  I got my grabber from good old Amazon.

The coat hanger tool is made from .. yep a coat hanger that I bend and straighten as I need.  I also wrap some kitchen towel around the bent end to help make a bottle cleaner when it isn't being a poker and planter. 

 Coat hanger

The plants I have started with are:
  1. Ficus Piluma- a small leaved plant that creeps and climbs.  You can get variegated or just green 
  2. Fittonia verschaffeltil- nerve plant in a variety of colours 
  3. Small leaf ivy
  4. Small palm 

I have found it difficult to get the plants I need both locally and online but have found Best4garden really good. 

I have watched a few helpful people on YouTube and really like this one at  Storm the Castle

8. Clean the inside of the bottle again as you may have flicked compost onto the inside of the bottle  as you have been planting- using the coat hanger tool.  This may take some time and several changes of paper towel but is well worth it.  Then add your cork and presto! Your own mini ecosystem.

I have also added some reindeer moss to one of the gardens as I do like it.  You will need to remove the cork occasionally in the early days as the moisture levels adjust, you don't want it to get too wet and start rotting.  Put in a light place but not in direct full sun as the plants can get damaged by the magnifying effect of the bottle.   
And that is it really, very rarely do you need to add water if the balance is right.  You may need to trim the plants as they grow and perhaps turn the bottle to ensure even growth.

Hope you have enjoyed the quick step by step and please let me know if you have any comments or tips.