Ever seen a garden in a bottle? Only a genie might be able to do that, right? Well, not anymore. Even you can conjure one at home now. Don’t believe us? Do it yourself…
Commonly used as a form of decoration, a bottle garden is perhaps a brilliant substitute of balcony or terrace gardens for city apartments. A plastic or a glass bottle with a narrow neck is just what you require to get started. Plants are grown inside the bottle with little exposure to sunlight, and can be contained indefinitely inside the bottle. You may wonder how the plants survive without air or water. It’s pure science. When the plants are initially planted in a bottle, a small quantity of water is added. The air in the bottle provides the plants with necessary oxygen and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Sunlight is used to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugar. Oxygen that is liberated as a byproduct, remains trapped in the bottle and is, in turn, used for respiration by the plants. The cycle continues and thus, the plants can easily survive in a self-sufficient ecosystem.
Creating a bottle garden is simple. All you need to do is select a plant with a slender stem, tolerance for lower indoor light, humidity and features of visible interest like appealing leaf colour, shape etal. Get a pretty-looking bottle and you are all set.
– Put a tablespoon of coarse aquarium gravel at the bottom of the bottle. That way you’ll be able to see if there is stagnant water below the soil.
– Fill the bottle up to an inch with fine potting soil just above the gravel. Let it settle down by gently adding water, but just enough to moisten the soil.
– To prevent getting water on the mouth of the bottle and to prevent over watering, use an eye dropper. Using distilled water will help limit the amount of salts going into the soil.
– Keep adding soil and water until the level of the soil is correct and all of it is moist.
– Once the stem extends beyond the top of the bottle, gradually add more soil to give the stem and roots time to adjust being covered. With such a small opening, the soil may not be able to take in enough air at times and may sour due to over-watering. Now, that might be fatal to the roots.
– If the bottle is big enough, a layer of brick pieces of about 10 mm thickness should be laid (instead of gravel) at the bottom. This will absorb accidental application of excess water. Preparing the soil.
– The soil mixture should be porous and friable. This helps in aeration of roots. In case of a bottle garden, it is not easy to loosen the soil at regular intervals. Hence porous soil is essential.
– For this, take one part red garden soil, one part crushed brick pieces and one part leaf mould. In case leaf mould is not available, ½ part of well-decomposed manure may be used in the mixture. It is not necessary to sterilise the soil mixture.
– To take care of fungus and insect infection, add a small quantity of fungicide and insecticide to the soil mixture. It is advisable that these chemicals are mixed in water and then added to the soil.
– Making the soil moist has certain advantages. The dust will not fly while you fill the bottle with soil. And when you plant the saplings, the soil won’t crack. Selection of plants
– The plants chosen should be slow-growing because fast-growing plants need frequent pruning, which is bit difficult in case of a bottle garden.
– Herbs like sage, oregano, basil and ferns work quite well for a bottle garden as they usually adapt to the size of their environment be it a small bottle or a big container.
– Keep the bottle near a window. But direct sunlight must be avoided, or else plants will wilt inside.
How to sow a sapling
Place the selected saplings inside the bottle with the help of fork and forcep. Pour a few droplets of water and close the lid of the bottle. The plants start growing inside the closed bottle. You should not water again unless the saplings start wilting. So, what are you waiting for? Happy gardening!
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