Gardening ~ Landscaping » MYO Self Watering Planters

MYO Self Watering Planters

In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to share this simple do it yourself, homemade self-watering seedling and herb planter idea. This is an easy way to recycle plastic water and soda bottles.


We like to find new ways to recycle or repurpose items that might otherwise end up in landfills. While plastic bottles can be recycled, it never hurts to use them for other things prior to recycling them. Here’s a fun way to start seedlings indoors and not have to worry if you happen to have a brown thumb and forget to water things in your care.

You’ll Need:
Soil-Less Potting Mix
Empty Water or Pop Bottles
Cotton String
Mini Paper Cupcake Liners
Seeds of your choice

Most water bottles are about 8 inches high, cut the bottle in half, at about 4 inches. You want to have enough room to have plenty of soil to get your seedlings started.


Poke a hole in the center of the paper cupcake liner.

Feed the Cotton string through the hole and tie it into a knot. It is imperative that you use 100% COTTON string, failure to do so will prevent water from getting to your seedlings.


Alternatively, if you want to keep lots of water in you can also poke a hole in the plastic bottle cap and slip the string through the hole, knotting it on the other side.


Slip the cupcake liner and string into the neck of the cut bottle, with the string hanging out.

Without the Cap:

With the Cap:


Fill it with soil-less potting mix. Dampen it with water, plant seeds of your choice and cover them lightly with “soil”. Water again.

Fill the bottom half of the bottle with fresh water and place the planted half inside to rest, ensuring that the string is fully submerged.


Water from the top daily until the seeds sprout and then they should be able to stay moist on their own with the water from the cotton string.

This is a wonderful way to have a small herb garden in your kitchen windowsill with minimal effort.

If you’re concerned about BPA’s and other potential chemicals from bottles, use recycled beer and wine bottles and make your own GLASS self-watering planters instead. Simply follow this tutorial here.


Please note, it is imperative that you don’t use compost or regular potting soil as they do not offer moisture wicking capabilities that soilless mixtures offer.

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4 thoughts on “MYO Self Watering Planters”

  1. love this idea. reusing used water bottles that we would throw out anyway and the fact that we do not have to purchase extra containers. also we do not have to remember to water!

  2. this self watering planter can also be done on a larger scale using two 5 gallon food grade buckets. It does require some power tool use and about $8 in materials (makes multiple planters), not counting soil. You can get food grade buckets from larger grocery stores that make their own cakes, doughnut shops and some ice cream stores.

    Drill small holes (1/4″ or smaller) in the bottom of one bucket-like a colandar. Drill 3 holes abut 1/2″ in diameter. Cut a piece of thin wall 1″ PVC8″ taller than the bucket and cut the bottom end on an angle to ensure water flow.

    Also, cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket near the side so the PVC pipe will go through. Using an old cotton T shirt cut into 2″ strips, Tie a knot about 5″ from one end of each strip. Feed three strips through the 1/2″ holes from the bottom of the bucket and knot just inside the bucket-longer ends insidethe bucket.

    Place prepared bucket inside a second bucket. Hold up to the light to determine where the inside bucket stops. Mark that point with a sharpie or crayon.

    Remove inside bucket and set aside. Drill a hole just smaller than the diameter of some aquarium air tubing 1/2″ below the mark on the outside bucket. Add a piece of tubing about 4″ long through the bucket as a drain which prevents over watering.

    Place the inside bucket in place, add the pvc pipe, angled end down. pulling the strips up the sides of the inside bucket, add a potting mix heavy with perlite and peat moss into the bucket. wet down from the top, add additional soil.

    add seedlings or seeds and continue as the plant requires. wet down from top once again until water exits the drain. add water and plant food through the pvc pipe about every 10 days to two weeks, if needed.

  3. I have been doing this for a couple of years now for my tomato and cucumber plants. I start my own seed for my garden. When the seed sprouts get tall enough I replant them in a 2 liter bottle that I have made like this.

    It works really well and when time to plant in the ground I just turn the top upside down in my hand, I put the plant between my fingers to support it, and all of the potting soil comes out without disturbing the roots. Hope this works as well for others.


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