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Bottle Trees- What Are They? And What Are They For?

Updated on October 7, 2014

Here We Have A New Age Bottle Tree

Have you ever wondered what those bottle trees are for. Are they just for decoration or do they have a purpose?
Have you ever wondered what those bottle trees are for. Are they just for decoration or do they have a purpose?

Check Out This Great Video About Bottle Trees

Bottle Trees Are Said To Protect You And Keep Away Evil Spirits

Bottle trees are a popular form of folk art especially in the American south where you'll be able to spot a bottle tree around almost every corner. I know that here on my street in a small southern city there are several bottle trees.

Blue bottles are the most popular color for bottle trees but you really can use almost any color. You'll find that blue and green bottles show up the best on bottle trees.

You can use steady white burning Christmas lights inserted into your bottles to light up the bottles. Remove any lights not in the bottles to make the lights in your bottles show up better. Just be sure before you remove the lights that you need to that your lights will still burn if a light or several lights are removed.

When you put the bottles onto the limbs of the tree or tree branch you want to use limbs that are sturdy enough to hold the bottles up. This is why some people use a sturdy post with dowel rods inserted into the sturdy post to put your bottles on. If you do this I suggest painting the post and dowel rods sky blue so that the bottles will show up more or if your going to be using green bottles paint the post and dowel rods hunter green. You want to use a color that is going to help show off your bottles when they are placed on the bottle tree.

Some people use the same colored beads to hang on or around their bottle tree. Some people use candles in wind proof glass containers under their bottle tree to light up their bottle trees and show them off.

Did you know that the ancient Druids hung blue glass orbs up in their trees at night with a candle lighted inside the glass orb so it would show up very well after dark.

How To Make A Bottle Tree

There are only a few steps to make a bottle tree. You need a tree branch or sturdy limb and some colorful bottles to put your bottle tree together. A lot of people make some very nice bottle trees out of large sturdy cedar tree limbs or even a small cedar tree with evenly spaced limbs.

You want your limbs to be evenly spaced so the bottles will be evenly spaced on the limb. You will want a small cedar tree or a sturdy long cedar limb at least 5 - 6 ft long. If your making a traditional southern style bottle tree you should try to use all blue bottles. The blue bottles on a bottle tree are said to keep away evil and evil spirits. If you have a problem with ghosts or think you do then put a blue bottle tree in your yard.

Bottle trees were first made in the old south of America because they were brought to America by the earliest slaves that came to America. At least the tradition was brought to America. In ancient Africa blue bottle trees had been placed at cross roads to keep evil away. The bottle trees were also placed in yards also to keep away evil.

Bottle trees in ancient Africa were also used to honor dead relatives. When this was done the bottle tree was made almost the exact same way but then the tops of several bottles were removed and candles were burned at night in those bottles so the bottle tree would be lighted at night and honor the dead. You'll now find a lot of these lighted bottle trees done the same exact way in today's American south.

If you have a power outlet close enough you can use Christmas lights to light up your bottle trees. You can use white steady burning Christmas lights and put the lights inside your bottles. I think blue bottle trees lighted with steady burning white lights are beautiful.

Blue Bottle Trees Are Said To Be The Most Powerful.
Blue Bottle Trees Are Said To Be The Most Powerful.

More Bottle Tree Information

When the bottle trees were made for folk magic cedar trees or branches from cedar trees were used to create the bottle tree and blue bottles were the most used color of bottle. Many people had the belief that blue or haint blue as it come to be known was the color loved by spirits and so that was the color that was used.

Later the color haint blue was used to paint squares around windows and doors to keep evil spirits out of the house. In the American south ceilings throughout the whole house were painted haint blue to keep the evil spirits away.

You will find doors on old houses in some parts of Louisiana were painted haint blue so that evil spirits could not enter in.

In some locations where there were steps going into houses the steps were always painted haint blue to create a barrier that evil spirits could not cross into the house.

After plastic bags came along you would find little plastic bags of water nailed up over doors. The little bags of water served two purposes. They were believed to keep evil spirits out of the house and they also will keep house flies from coming into the house.

Bottle Tree Information

Did you see a bottle tree and think it was a beautiful piece of folk art. Well it is that indeed but it is also a form of folk magic. And that folk magic can be traced back to northern Europe and Egypt in very early times. The Egyptians made bottle trees in much the same way that we do today. In Ireland in early times blue bottles with candles in them were hung up in the trees at night to help keep away evil spirits and to draw helpful spirits nearer.And in case you're wondering clear and colored glass bottles were popular in ancient Egypt by 1600 B.C. They were filled with precious oils and spices and with in the next few hundred years they had made their way all over Africa and northern Europe.

It is the blue bottles that are said to have the most power and magic associated with them. And it wasn't long before people came up with the belief that spirits can live in glass bottles. Maybe it was the noise that the wind can make as it blows over the openings in bottles. Or the noises you can make if you blow over the lips of a bottle. However it happened it wasn't long before legends and tall tales began to be told around camp fires of spirits or haints ( ghosts ) being able to live in bottles. Remember the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp. Well that lamp was likely a cobalt blue bottle. Because blue glass has always been associated with imps, magic, and genies.

It is likely that the first bottle trees in America were made by newly arrived slaves in and around Charleston South Carolina and that area. There are records of bottle trees in that area going back to the late 1600's. But before long the bottle trees made it up the hill and into the gardens of the big plantation houses. There they were mostly for decoration.

After the Civil War bottle trees were used to show the location of Folk Magic Practitioners. A blue bottle tree in the yard meant that a practitioner of folk magic lived there. People would then stop and ask for things to be done by the folk magic practitioner.

And it wasn't long before people began to make bottle trees just because they thought they were lovely garden art.

Here is an interesting video about bottle trees.

What You May Not Know About Bottle Trees

Most bottle trees in the United States are most often made of cobalt blue bottles and you will find more bottle trees in the south than anywhere else. The next time your out driving around pay careful attention and see if you can spot a bottle tree. If you do why not come back here and tell us about it.

And there is good reason for this especially in the Appalachian region of the American south where a lot of people from Ireland settled and they brought their beliefs and practices with them. Quite often they worried about haints, furies, and evil spirits. The Irish would put bottle trees out near their garden gates and they quite often painted their front doors blue to keep evil spirits away.

Maybe just maybe the bottle tree is making a big come back because I know I see a lot of bottle trees here in western North Carolina. But I think today it is mostly folk art though you will find the occasional superstitious person who really believes in the power of their bottle tree.

You can if you wish hang strings of little bells up in the tree with your bottles and when the wind is blowing just right you'll be treated to the jingle of the bells and the sounds of the wind blowing through the bottles. Let me warn you that if your bottles are turned just right that the wind can make some really spooky sounds.

In some locations in the American south blue ribbons are also hung in the bottle trees and bird houses in the yard are painted cobalt blue. When you see a yard like this you can almost be certain that a superstitious person may live there.

What do you think of bottle trees? Do you have a bottle tree in your yard. Why not tell us all about it in the comments section below. What kind of experiences have you ever had around or involving a bottle tree.

More Bottle Tree Information

Bottle Trees have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years and people are still making them. You'll find them made all kinds of ways today. In some places they are called the poor mans stained glass.

And if your ever near a bottle tree when the wind is blowing just right I think you'll quickly understand why people thought that spirits were inside the bottles. Maybe just maybe they were.Because let me tell you the wind can make some of the spookiest sounds you'll ever hear when blowing through a bottle tree.

Just south of Savannah Georgia are some of the most beautiful bottle trees you will ever see. Another place you'll see a lot of unique bottle trees is on Highway 64 going out to the North Carolina Outer Banks. You will also find some beautiful bottle trees on Ocracoke Island where you'll find some bottle trees two hundred or more years old. Over the years people have picked the bottles up off the beach and added them to one of the several bottle trees there on the island.

Scientists now say that cobalt blue which is the most popular color of bottle trees is also relaxing to humans and we as humans are drawn to that color of blue. Haint Blue is almost that same color and the reason the people of the time believed that Haint Blue kept away evil spirits is the simple fact that lime was often added to the paint of that time and when the ceilings of rooms were painted with the color Haint Blue it was the lime in the paint that kept away flies, wasps and other bugs. And when people saw that the insects avoided the Haint Blue they just knew it had to keep away spirits also.

I really hope you decide to build a bottle tree in your yard or garden real soon. I can't guarantee you that the bottle tree will keep away evil spirits but I can guarantee you that you'll enjoy your bottle tree and a lot of people are going to ask you what its for. What you tell them is up to you. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a nice day..

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A really neat and unusual bottle tree.Note that it is made of the popular blue bottles.
A really neat and unusual bottle tree.Note that it is made of the popular blue bottles.

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Thomas Byers aka Crazyhorsesghost has been writing at Hub Pages for over seven years now and he has been interested in the paranormal all his life.
Thomas Byers aka Crazyhorsesghost has been writing at Hub Pages for over seven years now and he has been interested in the paranormal all his life. | Source

Endangered Species-Bottle Trees

Do you have a bottle tree. If not then you are helping to keep the lonely bottle tree an endangered species. If you've never thought about having a bottle tree then maybe you should. The more bottles we put on bottle trees the fewer bottles we will have in landfills. And after all bottle trees are cute. And quite the conversation piece. I guarantee you that as soon as you put up that first bottle tree people are going to be stopping by and wondering what your bottle tree is about. If you're feeling really kind you can send them the link to this Hub Page about bottle trees and they can learn all about bottle trees and maybe just maybe everyone will build a bottle tree and the bottle trees will no longer be an endangered species.

© 2012 Thomas Byers

Please Post Your Comments About Bottle Trees Now. And Thanks For Reading.

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'm putting up a bottle tree for Halloween this year. I have my bottles ready and I would do it earlier but where I live I'm afraid the city will not approve of the glass. Hopefully all will go well.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      5 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Your very welcome. I hope your Bottle Tree turns out great.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've seen bottle trees before, they look quite interesting. I loved reading the folklore about them and think I may start one of my own now...thanks for the inspiration.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      5 years ago from East Coast , United States

      I have several as do my neighbors and friends. I like the ones made with blue glass bottles. Thanks for your comment.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      One of these days I am going to have a Bottle Tree. I have admired them for years especially the ones down on the coast.

    • JohnM profile image


      5 years ago from Miami Florida

      I love Bottle Trees. My Mom has been gone for many years but she had several Blue Bottle Trees in her yard. The Blue Bottle Tree is said to be especially helpful in keeping away ghosts and evil from your home. The Blue Bottle Trees, usually four of them were placed on each side of a house to keep away the ghosts and evil spirits. Sometimes candles were hung from the Blue Bottle Trees at night. I haven't seen one with candles burning in it for years. CHG you did great work with this one to. Everyone that's interested in the paranormal and the old south should read and check out this Hub Page. Hello my old friend. Good luck with your Bottle Tree Hub Page.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very cool we have friends that have one and I never knew the story behind them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 

      8 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Wow, I had never heard of this. We have so many little cedars on our property and a few are not going to make it. Now I know that now I just have to do this. Thanks!

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      8 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Very interesting. Love the idea. They are beautiful.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      8 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Great I hope you enjoy your bottle tree and thanks for the comment.

    • blairtracy profile image

      Tracy B 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Very interesting hub! I think I will add a bottle tree to my garden this year!


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