Blog post

Super Simple DIY Self Watering Herb Garden

Apr 23, 2015Dawn

I have been wanting to grow my own herbs for quite awhile now, but have been a little intimidated by it. I’ve never grown herbs before and know that some can be finicky when it comes to watering.

However, after seeing many ideas for “self-watering” herb gardens, I decided to give it a try. Many versions use wine or other glass bottles, but for the trial run I decided to go with less expensive and easier to cut, 2-liter pop bottles.

They came together really quickly and required simple materials that you may already have on hand.

Just four materials to make these self-watering herb planters:

– 2 liter soda bottles (or whichever size you choose to use)
– cotton string, twine, or even strips of a cut up t-shirt (just make sure it is cotton so that it properly absorbs the water)
– soil
– seeds

You should have seen my daughter’s eyes as I put these in the cart at Walmart! “Do we get to drink that!?!”

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

The Herbs:

I decided to plant Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Cilantro, Parsley and romaine lettuce (not an herb, but wanted to give it a try :) It was also nice that Walmart had organic seeds if that is important to you.
DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

Steps to create the Self-watering Planters:

I let my kids have a little of the soda before dumping out the bottles, rinsing them, peeling off the labels and cutting them in half (a white strip of the label remained on each bottle…I probably could have found a way to remove it, but have I mentioned lately that I have four kids age five and under? I was trying to get this done before their show was over and they found me ;). I used a knife to start a hole and then a scissors to finish the cut.

 

Herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive in these self-watering planters!

Next, make your wicks. I used cotton twine from Walmart. I used six strands in each of the wicks, but now, after testing the containers, 3 or 4 would have been plenty. Then tie a knot about two inches from one end (you can test it in your bottle to make sure that it touches the bottom of the water reservoir.
DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

Next, drill holes in the caps of the bottles. The size will depend on what type of wick you are using. For my cotton string wicks, my husband drilled holes that were about 1/4″ in diameter.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

Then put one wick through each cap.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

And then return the caps to the tops of the bottles, and place the tops of the bottles upside down on their corresponding bottoms. Did I mention how simple and easy these herb planters are??? :)

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

Next, fill each top about 1/3 of the way with soil. I’m using a bag of Miracle Grow Potting Mix ($5.97 at Walmart…this isn’t sponsored by Walmart, it is just the closest retailer to our house :) Each bottle only holds about 2 cups of dirt, so we hardly put a dent in this big bag, you don’t need much.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

They found me…I think they could smell the dirt…If you’re feeling brave, let the kids help :)

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

Then spread out the strands of the wick and continuing filling. I stopped about an inch below the top, I didn’t want them to get too full.

 

Herbs-Wick-Placement

 

Then, when they are all filled, plant your seeds and add water to the base. The amount of water that you can see in the containers below (three inches or so) lasted almost two weeks. As the plants grow, and as they are placed outside in the sun, they will use more.
DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

And then wait…and in a week, look what we have! The lettuce was the first to appear, the others were a little slower (the packages say that they all take 7-14 days for germination).  I made these as a birthday gift for my aunt, so unfortunately I don’t have a picture of them when they were more mature.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

You’ll notice that some appear wetter on top then others, if they seem like they are drawing up too much water, just clip off a couple of strands going down to the water. And don’t worry if the top is dry as long as water is disappearing from the bottom. As the plants grow, the roots will find their way to the wick, so the top doesn’t have to be wet for them to get all of the hydration they need.

Bonus step:

Talk the sweet carpenter in your life into making a crate or box to put them in. This time of year, the weather is still highly unpredictable in Minnesota, so the crate allows for them to be easily taken inside or out.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

Once the seedlings appear, make sure to thin them according to the directions on the package.

 

DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

 

And there you have it! Just keep water in the base and never wonder if your herbs are getting the right amount of water :)

I’m going to make another set to have at my house, I’ll be sure to post more pictures of how they grow and adjustments to the process if need be.

I had to read several (several) tutorials to get the complete picture of how these work, if I missed any steps, or if you have a question or suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

I also found this article very helpful once your herbs get growing and you want to start using them: 10 Mistakes New Herb Gardeners Make

Happy herb growing!

DW-Signature
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DIY Herb Garden: Soda bottles made into self-watering herb planters because herbs can be finicky about water, take the guess work out of herb gardening and watch them thrive! #DIY #herb #garden #indoor #easy #grow #herbs #start #begin #seed

Comments (33)

  • Lisha

    Jul 17, 2018 at 1:04 am

    I did this with my class this past spring, we planted some flowers and they all got to take theirs home at the end of the school year. They had a blast with these planters. I will do this again!

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  • Hope

    Mar 19, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you for the tutorial! I was wondering one thing though, how do you add water??

    1. Dee

      Mar 26, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Yes, how did you add the water?

      1. S Mamman

        Mar 27, 2018 at 5:46 am

        Just lift the upper portion (with soil and plants) and pour some water in to the lower portion so as to keep the water level just below the lid.

        1. S Mamman

          Mar 27, 2018 at 5:50 am

          Alternatively you can use a syringe and needle to fill water to the lower portion by pricking the portion where there is space in between both the portions.

        2. dawnmadsen

          Mar 27, 2018 at 2:59 pm

          Yes! This is exactly right! The two sections still come apart so that you can add water :)

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  • Elaine

    Jun 3, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I love this!! I’m featuring you tomorrow!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope to see you tomorrow! Pinned!

  • Anne @ Domesblissity

    Jun 3, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Hi Dawn (and friends)! Thank you so much for sharing this super idea at Thriving on Thursdays. What a great tutorial and a fantastic idea. I’m definitely going to try this. I’m featuring this one at tomorrow’s party. Hope to see you again.

    Anne xx

  • Kristen from The Road to Domestication

    Jun 2, 2015 at 2:59 am

    Simple yet brilliant. I love it!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to link up with us over at the #HomeMattersParty – we hope to see you again this Friday! Feel free to bring a friend!

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  • Carole West @ Garden Up Green

    May 31, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I love this – so great that you included the kids. Herbs are the perfect place to begin a garden, indoors and out. -Carole

  • swood97

    May 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    We love growing herbs, especially from seed. Nice idea. We are so glad you shared with us at Merry Monday! I’m looking forward to your newest additions to the party next week!

  • 2patkath

    May 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    What an ingenious idea. That is a great idea. I am pinning this.
    Kathleen

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  • coolchillmom

    May 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I love this way of getting your herb garden started. Thanks for sharing at the Best of the Blogosphere

  • Debbie Rodrigues

    May 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    That is such an awesome idea! We do not have that many 2 liter bottles at home, I’m saving this for later. I would love to give it a try.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • daydreamingbeauty

    May 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    What a great idea!! I think this might even work for me, and I have quite the black thumb when it comes to gardening! ;) Thanks for linking up with us at the Best of the Blogosphere!

  • Di Warren

    May 25, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Such a cool idea, love it, thanks for sharing

  • Crochet Hooks

    May 19, 2015 at 1:54 am

    What a great idea! Love the crate that would make it so easy to carry in or out or to just move around your yard. I was going to do herbs in the garden but as a beginner I wasn’t sure if I would know what was an herb and what was a weed (we have a very weedy garden lol) so this is perfect!! Now to get some bottles! Thanks for linking with the creative challenge party!!

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  • Heather Hennessee

    May 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I love this! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Julie

    May 12, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Fan-blooming-tastic! What a brilliant use of old pop bottles (really hoping my English expressions translate ok – I think this is a really good idea to use old plastic bottles!)

  • Cathy Walsh

    May 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I had seen this with wine bottles, but want to do it with my kids, so 2-liter bottles are a much better idea, and bigger, too :)

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