Bottle Gardening: How to Make a Bottle Garden
Most plants, not only need nutrients and water for their good growth and production, but also demand humid air around them. In spite of paying heed to all cultural operations, their growth will be impeded if the humidity of the surroundings decreases. In cold countries plants are grown in green houses, thereby protecting them from snowfall. For raising the temperature, the house is heated artificially which causes the loss of required humidity for plants in the house. The moisture level of the air inside the house is considerably raised by drenching the floor and benches with water. This way the conditions are controlled in the green house to provide an ideal environment for plant growth.
A miniature form of a greenhouse was innovated by Dr. Nathaiel Ward. It was in form of a small aquarium or a glass paneled showcase and as such it was known as ‘Wardian Case’. Then it was further reduced to a bottle form. Hence the name “Bottle Garden”.
In the Victorian age, the Wardian case became very popular as it was a common article almost in all houses. Its utility lies in that it helps maintain the exact level of moisture both in soil and surrounding air. Not only that it also gives all round protection from somg, the outcome of industrial pollution.
Besides, the fluctuation of temperature is practically ineffective, in bottles or cases. In those days, since travelling from one country to another was time-consuming, carrying plants in a live condition was very difficult. But the problem in this regard was solved with the introduction of Wardian cases.
Gradually the cases were replaced by large, round acid bottles which were used in the chemical industry. Then a plastic bottle or a jar came into use. The mouth of the bottle should be narrow so the plantlets could be passed through it.
First clean the bottle, then pour some quantities of sand and grit into it; the layer of aggregate should not exceed three centimeters in depth. Then lay a layer of potting compost over aggregate. Sieve the compost through fine mesh and pour into the bottle through a plastic tube and funnel so that it does not touch the sides of the bottle. The following ingredients with their quantities noted against them can be used to prepare a suitable compost for gardening bottles.
The depth of potting compost will vary from 7-15 cm. for planting operations some accessories are required which can be procured or made for one’s own use. These are two think bamboo sticks, one tiny spoon (salt spoon) and a paper roll of thread reel. Push one end of a stick into the hole of the reel just to make a rammer. Fasten the handle of the spoon to the end of another stick which will be used for scooping soil to make a planting hole. Insert a plantlet holding its and pushing it with the flat end of a stick. Scoop a hole with the spoon end of the stick just to hold the rootball of the plant. Plant it as usual and press the soil about it with the rammer of the paper reel. Water the plant with a narrow plastic tube. Dip the tube in a mug of water and close the other end of the tube with a finger tip. Then enter the tube in the bottle and loosen the tumb, thus opening the air passage for sliding down the water in the tube.
Some of the plant species suitable for a bottle garden are noted below:
A bottle garden demands less maintenance. Once raised it lasts for few years without much maintenance. It does not need frequent watering. If the mouth of the bottle is kept closed no watering is needed because the water gas that escapes through the leaf-pores gets condensed on the glass and runs back to the soil. In the case of an open mouthed bottle usually a monthly watering of nearly a cup of water is found to be sufficient. The old and unhealthy leaves must be removed. Fasten a shaving blade at the end of a think stick which will serve as a handle. The other end of the stick will be made pointed. Cut off the dead leaves with the blade and lift out on the pointed end of the cane. Care should be taken to see that no leaves get diseased. It is recommended that a systematic fungicide like Bavistin or Benguard should be applied for spraying on leaves. Other fungicides that leave stain on leaves should not be used. A plastic bottle spray can conveniently be used for spraying the fungicide.
A bottle garden does not need direct sun. The strong, diffused light is found to be sufficient. So place the bottle on a table near a window. The containers which are used for bottle gardens are goldfish bowls, wide mouthed jars, bell jars on glass plates, etc. as these containers have a wide mouth the planting and aftercare become easy.