One Cut Self-Watering Planter (using a 2 Litre Bottle)




About: I like blogging about urban growing and vegan food -

There are a lot of things you can do with a 2l plastic bottle, and that's a good thing, because there are an awful lot of them. Its estimated that in North America alone, 3.1million tons of PET gets manufactured each year, and a lot of that goes into the single use bottles that we get our fizzy pop in.

Where possible, I like to avoid soda. That's partly because it is terrible for you, and partly because of the waste it generates. But occasionally the wife will bring home the odd bottle of carbonated water, which we then try to recycle in the usual ways.

The problem with recycling is that, well, things don't just magically become other things. Plastics are difficult to recycle [read: repurpose] on an industrial level, they require a lot of energy to process, and the byproducts aren't always needed. Sometimes you just have to take things into your own hands and do something at grass roots level.


Step 1: What You Need

There are a lot of tutorials on the internet about how to turn a 2l bottle into a self-watering planter, but this one addresses some of the problems that I've found in those designs. We'll talk about that in a second, but for now, here is how you make it.

You will need -

  • An old sock (preferably black, with holes... essentially one destined for the bin)
  • A 2l bottle, similar in design to the one in the pictures.

Step 2: The 'One Cut'

Cut the bottle around the middle, in one cut. This should be halfway down the bottle.

Step 3: Adding the Sock...

Remove the lid of the bottle. Push the toe end of the sock up through the neck of the bottle. Tie a not in the sock. Then, pull the ankle part of the sock over the wider end of the bottle (it'll be naturally held there by the power of elastic!).

Step 4: Final Steps...

Now fill the bottom of the bottle with water (this will be your reservoir). Invert the top of the bottle, and push it down so that the two halves of the bottle fit snuggly together, and the toe of the sock is immersed in the water.

Fill the sock with soil, and add a plant. In this case I have put a chilli plant in the top, but you can add anything you like.

Finally, leave to flourish, checking on the water level from time to time and refilling when necessary.

Step 5: And Why This Is Better Than Other Planters...

As mentioned before, this design simplifies some of those that I've found online.

A lot of the ones I've found don't take into account that the roots of your plant don't want to see daylight. Those that do recognise this problem often suggest that you should spray paint the bottle. That in turn throws up the issues with waste from spray paint, not to mention the expense.

I've also seen designs which suggest the wick is made from cotton rope or cord, which is pulled through a hole in the lid. For this to work you are going to have to own a drill.

Almost everyone has socks which have been condemned to the bottom of the drawer. Those socks who, through no fault of their own, have become threadbare and riddled with holes. By using these, we not only take one more thing out of the bin (because, honestly, who darns socks these days), but we also solve two of the design faults of previous models at the same time - how to protect the roots and how to self-water the plant.

Anyway, I hope you like this, and let me know if you've put the planter to good use.



    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest

    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thanks for posting this great instructable. Using a sock as a lightproof holder/wick is ingenious!

    Mary BethW2

    3 years ago

    I have made a few self watering planters and I like this design. I am going to make this next.

    1 reply
    Schnelly BMary BethW2

    Reply 3 years ago

    Glad to hear that. Post a pic, let me know how you get on.


    3 years ago

    Great idea. Might use this for starting a plant with a 500ml fanta bottle of similar shape. I suppose plus side is if you use cotton socks then when planted in larger pot the sock will decompose into the soil (feel free to correct me if I am wrong) and/or the roots may work their way through the material when they need more space. Bonus, bonus, bonus.

    3 replies
    Schnelly Bpsycophonic

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yep, cotton socks will decompose, but it'll take a while. It might be better to put it into the compost bin after a season of being used in the planter, that way the roots won't get 'pot bound'.

    psycophonicSchnelly B

    Reply 3 years ago

    V.true.. Thinking about it again the sock might be too tightly woven for the roots to grow out of. Unless i put a few careful cuts in to help them eacape.

    Schnelly Bpsycophonic

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah, I reckon a few careful cuts would totally work. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.