How to make a self-watering planter

Raid your recycling bin to make these self-watering planters – they’re great for low-maintenance indoor plants. 

Image shows the final constructed bottle with the inverted top and plant in the top.

Note: One key step using a hammer and a nail requires additional support, but this can be done ahead of time if you prefer. 

This guide is part of our Sense Arts, Sport & Wellbeing programme. This activity can be done at a time that suits you, either in your own space or in an educational setting. 

Who is this for?

This is a crafting activity for people who are deafblind or have complex disabilities and can be enjoyed by anyone.

Why does this make a difference?

This is a creative activity that helps people explore and expand their creative choices while supporting independence in the activity.

How to do this activity

What you’ll need

Image shows a tabletop with all the materials listed below.
  • A clean plastic bottle (clear and smooth-sided works best)
  • Scissors
  • Hammer and nail (see notes in bold)
  • String or yarn
  • Potting soil and seeds, or a plant
  • Paint and paintbrush (optional)
Image shows hand cutting bottle.

Step 1

Cut the top third off of the bottle. The first bit is tricky and can be dangerous – be careful and seek support if needed.
Image shows the two separate pieces if the bottle side by side

Step 2

If the edges are rough, tidy them up with your scissors.
Image shows a nail being hammered into the bottle cap whilst screwed onto the bottle

Step 3

Hammer the nail through the centre of the bottle lid. Repeat to make the hole easily threadable. This step should be done by an adult or support.
Image shows a bottle top being painted purple

Step 4

If you like, paint the top third of your bottle and the bottle cap. You may need more than one coat. Leave to dry. This step is optional.
Image shows string being threaded through the bottle cap

Step 5

Cut and thread a 30cm piece of string through the bottle cap, then screw the cap onto the bottle top.
Image shows bottle bottom with water in it.

Step 6

Fill the bottom quarter of the bottle with water.
Image shows the bottle top inverted into the bottom of the bottle.

Step 7

Next, put the bottle top into the bottle cap-side down, so that the yarn hangs in the water.
Image shows the bottle being filled with soil

Step 8

Fill the inverted bottle top with soil and plant your seed, or carefully pot your plant.
Image shows the planter with the plant poking out the top.

Step 9

If you are planting a seed, you will need to water it regularly until its roots are established.