Mahonia seedlings in selfwatering containers (Willem)

The mahogany shrub (Mahonia aquifolium) in my garden has been flowering and fruiting.  Its dark blue berries are normally eaten by the blackbirds, but this year I collected them in time, kept them drying for a couple of weeks and then planted the dry berries in a tray.  Other berries were opened and their little 2-3 kernel were taken out and washed.

Last week some of the berries in the tray germinated (the kernels did not yet).  I have planted some mahogany seedlings in a small coca-cola bottle, transformed into a self-watering container (see my photo below).  I expect that these seedlings will grow well, so that I can take the young trees to S.W. Algeria, where I want to introduce them as thorny shrubs to form a strong living hedge around the small family gardens in the refugee camps.

Mahonia seedlings in selfwatering container
(Click on the photo to enlarge it)

My self-watering containers with the mahogany seedlings :

(1) In front, a leaf of my mahogany shrub.

(2) Two yoghurt pots in which I can easily pour some water (serving as a mini water reservoir or tank).

(3) In each pot, an inverted coca-cola bottle of which I cut the bottom, filled with potting mix and TerraCottem soil conditioner, with a mahogany seedling planted on top.

(4) I left the lid (stop) on the bottles, but perforated the neck, close to the lid, at two opposite sites.

(5) The bottles are sucking up water from the yoghurt pots through the holes in the bottleneck.

(6) Water is stocked in the TerraCottem soil conditioner.

(7) Mahogany roots are growing towards the gel lumps of the swollen polymers.

(8) With a minimum of water and fertilizer the seedlings will be growing into nice young trees.

(9) The bottles will be cut vertically in two halves and buried in the plant hole at the moment of tree plantation (avoiding pollution of the environment with plastic).

Tree seedlings in a plastic bottle (Betula alba)

Since some months, I am experimenting growth of tree seedlings in transparent plastic (PET) bottles.  It’s a real success for a number of reasons:

(1) The potting mix, to which I have added a very small amount of water stocking soil conditioner TerraCottem (5 g per liter of soil), is kept continuously moistened (less evaporation, less heating effect than in the classical black plastic grow bags, used in nurseries)

(2) Individual watering of the bottles has a beneficial effect on plant growth.

(3) I can keep my seedlings in daily sight by having the bottles on the terrace.

(4) When the young trees are tall enough for plantation on site, I will dig a plant hole, cut the bottle vertically in two halves, tear the two halves apart and leave them on the bottom of the plant hole when filling the pit with local soil (to which I will add again some TerraCottem).

(5) This way I will take care of the environment by reusing the plastic bottles and finally burying them.

Here are a couple of photos of a young birch tree (Betula alba) growing in a plastic bottle :

Young birch tree in bottle   Birch tree and succulent in bottle

Young birch tree (Betula alba) and a succulent plant growing together in a plastic bottle. (Click on the photos to enlarge them).

Mint roots in a transparent plastic bottle (Willem)

Yesterday, I posted a short message on mint growing easily in a plastic bottle on a windowsill.

Today, I am taking you back to the “problem” of root development in a transparent bottle. Joseph TOLLEDOT, Charles ASH and others confirmed my observation that light penetrating in the bottle would not harm the root development. Indeed, I have never seen negative effects of that kind.

Here are a couple of photos showing the excellent root development in the mint bottle :

Young mint in bottle Mint roots in a bottle Mint roots and polymers in a bottle

Fine mint plants in a transparent bottle / Vigorous root system / Dark spots are swollen polymers, stocking water in the bottle and thus saving water that is not running through the drainage hole. (Click on the photos to enlarge them).

Just use your imagination about containers (C. ASH)

Today, Charles ASH sent a comment on :

Growing mint in a bottle (Willem) August 12, 2007

Here is his message :

“This is a very interesting thread with some truly inspirational ideas! It’s not just plastic bottles than can be used to grow all sorts of plants though. We use, and have been for many years, plastic food containers. They are ideal for all manor of things.

Sowing seeds we use the flat tray type. Pricking out we use the larger, deeper flat tray type. Flat square, round or oblong for drip trays. And for propagating cuttings there are countless shapes and sizes, some of which seem to be made especially for plant propagating and growing. Just use your imagination and you will find one, or more likely loads, just right for what you want.

Talking about propagation, I happened across this fantastic website earlier today and it’s full of information on propagating and growing all types of plants:

Just thought of something else we use plastic bottles for. Mixing soluble plant food or other chemicals. Pour half a litre (or pint) of water into a plastic drinks bottle and mark the water line with an indelible marker, add another half a litre (or pint) and mark the water line again. Easy measuring of water etc. in half litre or a litre (or pint/s). Just add the plant food or whatever, screw on the top, give it a good shake and there you have it, easy peasy.
Charles Ash


Wonderful contribution, Charles ! Thanks. Willem

Growing mint in a bottle (Willem)

One can easily grow mint for the daily tea in a plastic bottle on a windowsill. Here is a picture of my experiment on it:

Young mint in bottle

Mint plants growing splendidly in a plastic (PET) bottle. The top cone of the bottle was cut and put, without the lid (stop) inside the bottle as a cover over the little drainage hole (perforation) in the bottom (see my former postings on this blog). Thus, air can penetrate in the potting mix from below. (Click on the photo to enlarge it).

This is a nice method to grow mint inside the house, e.g. on a windowsill in the kitchen, offering a fine opportunity to cut from time to time a couple of leaves for a nice cup of mint tea.

As a lot of water can be saved by growing these plants in plastic bottles, or even plastic bags, the same method can successfully be used in the drylands.

Bottle gardening: experiment with Green Ambrosia (Y.PATEL / Willem)

Some weeks ago I received a fertilizer from India, sent by Mr. Yogesh. I promised him to set up some experiments with his “Green Ambrosia“.

Here are the first pictures of the experiment set-up :

Different bottle sizes

Starting the experiment with 3 different bottle sizes. Each bottle cut in 2 parts : 1/3 bottom (serving as a water reservoir), 2/3 top inverted in the bottom part. I leave the lid (stop) on the bottle and make two small openings in the lower part of the come (bottleneck), just above the lid through which water from the bottom tank can be absorbed. (Click on the photo to enlarge it).

3 different bottles with Brussels sprouts

The bottle is filled with a potting mix and a seedling of Brussels sprouts (a cabbage variety) is planted in it.

I am carrying out the experiment with 4 bottles of each size (12 bottles in total) and split up in 2 series :

(1) One series is kept as control (without any special treatment, just leaving the plants growing in the bottles)

(2) One series is treated with the fertilizer Green Ambrosia.

I will publish a report on this after ending the experiment.

Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

Read at :


Vegetables in containers

Remark : This is a part of the text on “Small Scale Vegetables”.

Pots of vegetables can be outstanding decorative elements and they make vegetables possible where there is no soil, such as on a balcony or in a paved courtyard. You can even grow your veges at home and then take them, container and all, to the beach to enjoy fresh lettuce or spicy chilli peppers.
Continue reading Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

Water your Container Plants Correctly (Gardening.ygoy)

Read at :

Gardening.ygoy (see my Blogroll)

Water your Container Plants Correctly

Watering your container plants correctly is very important. Often Houseplants tend to die from improper watering over all other factors. Here are some tips that may come handy to you while you water your potted houseplants. Continue reading Water your Container Plants Correctly (Gardening.ygoy)

Square Foot Gardening and my comment (Google Alert / Gardening.ygoy)

Read at :

Google Alert for Gardening


Square Foot Gardening

A retired American engineer called Mel Bartholomew came up with the idea of Square Gardening. He believed that the conventional home gardening is too time consuming and requires a bit too much effort. With Square Foot Gardening, you can grow the same quality of vegetables at home with comparatively lesser effort, space and time. Continue reading Square Foot Gardening and my comment (Google Alert / Gardening.ygoy)

Non-flowering strawberries in window boxes (J. TOLLEDOT)

Here is a question coming from my friend Joseph TOLLEDOT :

“I remember you had a flowering and fruiting Strawberry plant in a bottle…I planted some 10 bare-root Strawberry plants in March in window boxes – only one plant flowered and gave some fruit only once and then stopped. All the others have produced plenty of healthy leaves and many runners but no fruit – very disappointing! – What can I do now? Any ideas? I have seem much contradictory advice on the internet so I am unsure what to do!”


Joseph referred to my former posting:

My very simple strawberry bottles (Willem)

Strawberries flowering and fruiting in plastic (PET) bottles

I don’t have see a clear reason for the fact that Joseph’s strawberries are not flowering in the window boxes.  I can only make a couple of suggestions :

1. Can it be that temperature is sometimes becoming too high in the boxes?

2. Can it be that inside the boxes (behind the window) there is a lack of UV rays?

Who can help us out ?