Container gardens make interesting talking points, but because they have a reputation for being tricky to set up and maintain, and the plants can easily outgrow their container, necessitating “potting on” and starting again with new plants, bottle gardens are not recommended for novices (unless one can find bottles with a mouth wide enough to insert one’s hand, and one is content that bottle gardens are temporary) and are usually the gardening choice of only a few aficionados. Their popularity tends to wax and wane; they are the item of choice for a time and then no longer.
How they are prepared
Bottles used for gardening must be bulbous, with a large mouth, and scrupulously clean. They are washed and sterilised and then a high-quality potting mixture is introduce and arranged along the bottom. Small plants, cuttings or seeds can be used.
Long forks, spoons and commercial or homemade dibbers are then used to insert and plant the vegetation.
Clean and sterilised objects such as shells and stones may be arranged to add interest.
Merits and disadvantages of bottle gardening
These gardens can be highly decorative, depending on one’s choice of container, plants and embellishments such as stones, shells and figurines. Plants in a bottle garden can be displayed to their full advantage. The garden can be moved easily if needed, as to a different position during different seasonal light and temperature. Because the gardens cannot last long (though the plants will be able to be used in other gardens), the bottle garden is virtually maintenance-free, requiring only weekly watering. Such routine garden maintenance as weeding and fertilising is non-existent if clean, good quality potting material was used in the set up.
Fungal infections can thrive in the moist atmosphere and are difficult to control. In addition, the setup is tricky, as any mistakes, such as soil clinging to the sides of the glass, are difficult to fix and detract from the displays in bottles with narrower mouths. Finally, container plants will simply outgrow their containers. This can be minimised by selecting dwarf and miniature varieties at the outset to slow down the rate of growth.