A bottle garden is a special type of terrarium, an arrangement of growing plants contained within a large bottle or carboy. It is desirable that such containers have one or more holes drilled in their bottoms (this can be done by a glazier) to assure drainage, but such an arrangement is not absolutely necessary. To plant the garden, first pour through the neck of the bottle sufficient gravel or charcoal chips to cover its bottom to a depth of an inch or two, and over this place 2-4 in. of woodsy soil, peat moss and sand, vermiculite, or sphagnum moss. If the finished surface is to slope, tilt the bottle while these materials are being installed. Be careful not to dirty the inside of the glass.
Small pieces of rock and rough cork may be inserted through the neck of the bottle and used as features in the miniature landscape created within. Small pools and rivulets may be formed from lumps of moist cement.
The plants used must be small enough to be inserted through the neck of the bottle. They should have their roots washed free of soil first, and then should be carefully planted to make a pleasing picture.
Some Simple Tools Are Needed. A teaspoon securely tied to the end of a stick serves as a “spade” for digging holes, a cork affixed to the end of a stick provides a good tamper for firming the soil about the roots of the newly set plants, a pair of long-handled tongs or tweezers such as may be obtained from aquarium supply stores and dealers in medical supplies is needed to lower the plants into position, and a piece of stout wire or a wire hook attached to the end of a bamboo stick is likely to prove useful. A cotton swab, attached to a piece of flexible wire, may be used to remove dirt that inadvertently is spilled on the inside of the glass.
After planting, the arrangement may be watered with a fine, mistlike spray, but care must be taken not to give so much water that the drainage is flooded. Care of a bottle garden consists of spraying on the comparatively rare occasions that water is needed, and carefully removing from the bottle any leaves that die.
The plants best suited for growing in bottle gardens are those recommended for terrariums. Any individual bottle garden may be planted with tropical kinds such as Fittonias, Coleus, Peperomias, tender Ferns and the like, or with hardy plants such as native. Ferns, Wintergreen and Rattlesnake Plantain.