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Use Plastic Bottles to Make Pots Lighter

Problem is, if you fill a big pot with soil, you might not be able to move it, especially after you water it. And if succulents sit atop soil that never dries, roots may rot. My solution, a result of trial-and-error, also works for window boxes.

To make my deep window boxes less heavy, there’s a layer of plastic bottles beneath the soil.

Mistakes to avoid

My cheap and easy answer

Use Plastic Bottles for Lighter Pots
Step-by-step [see the video]

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13 Comments

Txs. Good suggestions. However, would placing plastic water bottles with cap then soil be ok. Nothing else. And would crushed bottles without cap be ok.
Tee

Hi Tee, Yes you could do soil only. Re crushed bottles without caps, I wouldn’t, because water would still get into them and get skanky.

So, I had bottles without tops and it did leave a stinky, stanky mess. I’m assuming that I need to throw out this all out and start again, correct?

Oh, no! Yes, I’m afraid so.

Can I use lava rocks instead of pumice? I cannot find it in any of our garden and hardware stores. Thank you.

Yes, the finer the better. Pumice is volcanic rock, btw.

Thank you Debra! I never imagined I could work on plants and I just started now, in my 50’s. I followed your water bottle instructions and used lava rocks in a resin planter. Is there a way I can show you a picture of what I did so I can get some constructive feedback? Thanks!

Hi Debra,
The plastic window box I’m using has a water reservoir at the bottom. Can I still use the plastic water bottles idea?
Joe

I don’t see why not. Sealed plastic bottles are basically the same (to the plant) as large stones that roots grow around. I’d be more concerned about “a water reservoir” keeping the roots soggy, leading to rot.

Can I do this with a ceramic pot that has a built in saucer (i.e. it has a small drain hole on the side of the built in saucer? Just want to make sure it drains well with the plastic bottles and pumice.

Yes. A saucer that holds water will keep soil in the bottom of the pot wet, which can rot roots. Plastic bottles (which to roots are solid objects like rocks) and pumice, which absorbs excess moisture, should help the situation, because most of the roots will stay above them in the pot.

Can I use landscape fabric over the plastic bottles

Yes but why? I can see how it might make it easier to lift the plant and root ball out of the pot later on. But soil is going to sift downward around the edges of the fabric regardless. You’re also creating a root barrier which prevents the plant from sending roots deeper, which could inhibit growth and make the plant top-heavy. Here’s the thing to remember: Bottles, when sealed tightly, are the same thing to plant roots as rocks, except they’re lightweight. Roots follow soil into crevices.

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I use plastic bottles to make big pots weigh less. It makes them easier to carry, reduces the amount of soil needed, and is healthier for shallow-rooted

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