The Beginner’s Guide to Indoor and Miniature Gardens Understanding Indoor Gardens, Moss Gardens, Miniature Gardens and Gardens in a Bottle
The first time I saw a miniature garden growing in a bottle, my immediate response was “but how did the plants get into the bottle?” Naturally, this amused the gardener very much, and for those people who are not into the secret of how the plants got into the bottle, this feat can only be on par with how did a model ship get into the bottle!
A garden in a bottle has about the same sort of fascination and requires almost that same amount offered dexterity and ingenuity to construct as a ship in the bottle. It is also going to need a lot of patience, because after all, you are gardening in limited space. But once your water garden is established, it can be left for months without attention. In many cases, depending on your plans, it may also not need watering.
So for all those people who have been really fascinated with this conversation piece, when you see people surrounding a glass bottle with beautiful plants growing in it, here is the beginner’s guide to indoor gardening in a bottle.
More than 200 years ago, a London physician named that Nathaniel Ward discovered that mosses, as well as ferns, which never grew satisfactorily in a city full of industrial fumes flourished if they were grown in the protection of a glass sided case. Thanks to his experiments, bottle Gardens developed in Europe, and since then, they have been the rage all over the world for people who are strapped for place, are looking for a new hobby, and also want to achieve something wonderful.
You can use any large bottle. But the bottle has to be made of glass! Carboy glass bottles are normally made for brewing beer, so if you can get them cheap at a nursery nearby, please do so.
A 5 gallon carboy bottle is going for around USD48 on eBay USA, but as my gardening books always suggest, follow and advocate minimum of expense and minimum of fuss, you may want to spend some time asking around in your circle of friends and neighbors for large glass bottles, which is they can spare you. I have seen some of these bottles kept away in garages, because once upon a time, they were used and the owner does not have any use for them at the moment. He may not want them for another 20 years, either. Please do buy the bottles from your friends!
Otherwise, a long-lasting friendship can get into jeopardy, when carelessly spoken words of half jesting “Well, he borrowed that bottle from me and what a mess he has made in it.” could cause subconscious rancor and ill will. That is of course if he is not interested in gardening!
If he is a gardener, he is going to demand his bottle back – along with your bottle garden, - five years down the line!
You may want to tell him the purpose for this gardening experiment. It is possible he may also want to give you some suggestions about plants based on his experience.
This carboy glass bottle is used for brewing beer. But instead, we can use the funnel for placing soil at the bottom of the bottle.
Wash and dry the bottle. With the means of the funnel introduce 2 inches of gravel which is going to be used for draining, and then several inches of dry compost into your bottle. I prefer natural organic compost with limestone, sand, and even potting compost is going to do very well. You can also add a little bit of dry soil mixed with crushed charcoal.
Make sure that the soil is dry. Damp soil is not going to go very easily down the funnel. Also, damp soil clings to the side of the bottle.
Now, as bottle Gardens are Gardens in miniature, you have to introduce only small plants into them,
Necessary Tools for Bottle Gardening
Here are the implements which you will need for successful bottle gardening, including lots of patience and enthusiasm. Make sure that the mouth of the bottle is wide enough to allow the introduction of a fork and a dessert spoon.
A small desert spoon is going to be your shovel!
In the same manner you are going to be using the fork to dig up the soil. Lash the fork and the spoon with tape or with wire to thin bamboo canes.
They are going to pass easily through the neck of the bottle. They can then be manipulated carefully to cover to the roots of the plants with soil.
Even if this is not done very efficiently in the beginning, the plants will after watering soon root afresh in the humidity of the glass container.
You can also use a paper funnel to insert the dry soil into the bottle. A paper funnel has a wider mouth than an ordinary funnel.
After you have planted them, the water is introduced by means of a small can or with a narrow mouthed tube. Now add another half an inch layer of gravel on top of the compost, so that your plants can be seen, and also so that this gravel and compost acts as mulch, especially in cold weather
Once the planting has been finished cork the bottle tightly. When my gardener friend told me this, my first reaction was, hey, do not the plants need air? But he told me that the idea was to establish a completely closed atmosphere, which is self-watering.
This was a miniature and natural rainforest, where the water passed off from the leaves condensed on the glass sides of the bottle and returned back to the roots. It seems the large size of the container has enough air trapped in it, for the small plants to grow and flourish. This is the reason why a bottle garden needs watering very rarely. He watered his bottle garden once a year!
You can even make a green city in a bottle, let your imagination go!
Stand the bottle in a good light, but not strong sunlight. If the core is fitted with a lamp holder, a bottle garden makes an excellent floor lamp or a table lamp in which the subtle beauties of a growing garden can grace your room night and day.
Someone just asked me whether they could leave the bottle uncorked. Well, why not, if you remember to water them every three weeks. Uncorked bottles means that they are getting plenty of fresh air, and the soil is drying out. So if you are leaving your bottles uncorked, that means watering about once a month. Be careful while watering. Overwatering means swamping them. And because your bottle does not have a drainage hole, they are going to suffer from roof rot.
Do not overcrowd your plants. Four – Five plants are quite enough for one large bottle.
Best Plants for Bottle Gardening.
You may just start your experiment by growing ordinary seeds.
The best plants for bottle gardening are of course those which like moist and close atmospheres and conditions.
Just imagine small plants which love a moist humid atmosphere, and were basically native to rainforests.
If you are corking your bottle, you can use these plants.
Aglaonema commutatum – dark green leaves with silver gray spots
I hope this book gives you lots of information on a brand-new look at the miniature gardening, indoor gardening, and growing bulbs for beginners. This is extremely satisfying, especially when you are trying a brand-new hobby to relax you. Best of all, you have the visible results of your efforts right in front of you.
Gardening does not need wide-open spaces, when you have sun and air and a container, a fork and a spoon, a bottle, some plants, some soil and some enthusiasm around.
So the next time you want to try your hand out at something new, which is going to keep you busy, give you hours of unalloyed pleasure, try miniature gardening or indoor gardening or even bottle gardening!
Live long and prosper.