Self Watering Containers From Recycled Soda Bottles

by / 2 Comments / 1636 View / February 24, 2012

Self watering containers from recycled soda bottles are gaining in popularity because they work and are inexpensive!

You probably have soda bottles right now in your pantry or in the recycle bin that you can use to make "free" planters.


I was recently asked  to appear on Yahoo! Shine's entertaining web show, "More Family Fun"   to demonstrate how these sub irrigated planters are made.

The show focuses on projects that are fun, educational and that kids can participate in.


This is not an original idea of mine, I just  added my creative spin to decorating them!


Want to get your kids interested in gardening?

Tell them to grab an empty soda bottle and meet you at the crafting table!

Adults should take the lead in cutting the plastic soda bottles as it will require a very sharp blade or scissors to do effectively.




Host Julie Zwillich, Yahoo! Shine's More Family Fun Show and Shirley Bovshow

Yahoo! Shine "More Family Fun" host, Julie Zwillich and Shirley talk "self watering containers"


Materials for Soda Bottle Planters

Gather the following materials:

  • Plastic Soda bottle- label removed, washed and dried
  • Cutting blade and scissors
  • Felt material
  • Potting Soil
  • Seeds or plants in small 4" containers
  • Decorative tape
  • Decopauge solution
  • Foam brushes
  • Art work cut from magazines, seed packets, gift wrap or other source



Scissors and Cutting Blade for self watering soda bottle planters

Sharp scissors or cutting blade is the most important tool you will need for this project!


Watch the Video!



Read the Instructions

1. Mark a ring around your bottle about two thirds of the way down.

2. Start cutting the bottle using your blade and finish with sharp scissors.

3. Take the upper section of the bottle, (the part with the neck) and pierce with blade to create drain holes. (Remember, this part of the bottle will be turned upside down and inserted into the bottom half of the bottle.)

4. Take a small piece of felt material and shove it into the bottle opening so that it protrudes out of the hole a little but is secure and won't come out. The felt  material will act as a wick and absorb water into the bottle and move it to the plant roots.

5. Fill the upper section of the bottle with lightweight potting soil-(the one you just cut drain holes into and placed felt material) and insert inside the bottom half of the bottle. The felt strip should make contact with the bottom of the bottle.

6. Plant seeds or a small plant from a 4" container into the soil.

7. Water, the "customary" way by adding water from the top of the plant.

8. Excess water will drain through the drain holes and fill the resevoir. As your plant needs water, it will draw water up from the bottom of the planter.

9. In about a week or so, the plant may need to be watered again as indicated by an empty reseviour.

Check by lifting the planter. If it feels lighter than usual, it may be time to fill the reseviour with water again.

10. Decorate your self watering container with stickers, decorative tape or decopauge. This is a great art project for the kids!


Repurposed Soda Bottle Sub Irrigated Planter By Shirley Bovshow


These planters are best used for indoor plants or for starting seeds in my climate zone.

I'm concerned about the perennial sunshine degrading the plastic after a while.


I followed the instructions set by Bob Hyland of and I encourage you to visit his blog, AFTER watching my video and reading my blog post.

You might not want to return!

Bob has the most extensive collection of articles on soda bottle planters that I've encountered and an excellent photo tutorial on Flickr for  making these "SIPS" (sub irrigated planters) as he prefers to call them.


Grab your soda bottles and start gardening!


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2 Comment

  1. They are very nice!

  2. I think I should get my kids to make some of those planters and perhaps decorate them as well.

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