Succulents are enchantingly quirky creatures that we love to stare at and sometimes touch. The large variety of textures, shapes and hues make succulents absolute showstoppers wherever they appear. The one thing that elevates the statue of succulents is if they are placed in a creative yet fancy planter. Nothing says ‘Say hello to my little friend’ like a whimsical wine bottle succulent planter.
Succulents planted in an up-cycled wine bottle are not only unique, but they provide some of the best environments for these evergreen plants as they do not require too much soil or water. These dazzling planters catch your attention when they host oddly shaped, bright succulents on a windowsill or as a table centerpiece. They evoke feelings of fulfillment because by using them, you are playing your part in reducing pollution, by recycling wine bottles you might have otherwise thrown away.
Getting your hands on a wine bottle planter
Finding a bottle of wine that you like is the easy part. It can get a little complicated when it comes cutting the bottle. Luckily, there is a safe solution for those of us who have a healthy fear of breaking glass. It is possible to purchase a glass wine bottle planter from your local succulent store or order one online. You can get wonderfully designed chandelier terrariums with a metal chain to hang from the ceiling or you can get some handcrafted lengthwise for a miniature rock garden. They come in wine bottle colors like green, clear or different shades of brown.
Create your own wine bottle planter
Glass is extremely fragile and you would need to work in a safe area away from curious pets or little people. You may want to collect extra glass bottles to practice on before attempting to cut your favorite wine bottle. It is advisable to take all the safety precautions when cutting glass. This includes protective gloves, eyewear and having the right glass cutting equipment.
Cutting glass with minimal fuss
The easiest way to cut through the glass of your wine bottle is to cut it in half, creating a top half and bottom half. The bottom half will create a planter that can comfortably grow two small succulents or one medium sized one. All you would need is strong cotton string, acetone (found in nail polish remover or the paint section at your local garden center) scissors, abrasive material like sandpaper or an emery board, a sink filled with cold water and a source of ignition like a BBQ lighter.
Wrap the cotton string 5 or 6 times around the bottle and tie a knot. Cut off the loose ends with a pair of scissors. Remove the cotton string and soak it in acetone for about 3 minutes. Slide back the wet cotton string over the bottle to the point where you want to cut the bottle. Light the string on fire and turn the bottle continuously to ensure the cotton string burns evenly. Keep the glass bottom tilted so as to trap hot air inside the bottle. As the flame from the string starts to diminish, plunge the glass bottle into cold water in the sink. The bottle should immediately ‘pop’ along the line tied by the string. Using wet sandpaper, smoothen out the edges of the planter to avoid any injuries.
There may be some harmful gases released when the string is burning. Be careful not to inhale these gases.
Cutting glass with power tools
For the more adventurous, you can cut out your bottle using rotary tool with a diamond cutting disk.
Peel off the labels, remove stickers and scrape off any glue remaining on the bottle. Fill 3/4 of the bottle with water and place it horizontally on a leveled surface. Trace the water level on the outside of the bottle with a marker and pour the water out. This will be your cutting outline.
Attach a suction vice in the sink to hold the bottle in place while you cut. Patiently follow the instructions on the glass cutter, ensuring that there is a constant flow of water on the spot you are cutting. This will cool down the diamond bit and also prevent glass fragments from spreading around. Be gentle when using the drill because excessive force can break the glass. Drill along the marked line starting with the two longest sides before completing the circle. Once done, very gently drill a hole at the bottom for drainage. Polish off the rough edges with wet sandpaper or a rotary tool that has a sanding bit.
Designing your succulent planter
Succulents thrive in porous soil. You can get ready made cactus or succulent mix and fill the planter almost to the brim. Fill the neck of the bottle completely with soil to prevent the soil from shifting after a few watering sessions. Add a stopper so that soil cannot come out at the end of the neck.
Start arranging your planter with the largest succulent at the bottle’s midpoint. Shake off any excess soil from your succulent and ensure the roots are nestled deep into the soil. Fill up the planter with other small succulents around the focal point. Ensure there is enough space between the succulents and that they are not overlapping each other. Finish off by adding a layer of top dressing, pebbles or reindeer moss to your arrangement. Not only does this make your planter as pretty as a picture but it also helps to keep the soil in place. Water sparingly once a week during the summer and only when the soil has completely dried out.
Choosing your succulents
Mix and match colors and textures in your wine bottle planter. Have a Zebra Plant as a main attraction and surround it with Sempervivum ‘Little Bobo’. For a spectacular flower display, you can add some Blossfeldia liliputanas – the smallest species of cacti in the world. Whatever you choose, you can be sure your wine bottle planter will be a good home for your succulents and will cause a stir wherever they are placed.