Why You Should Fill Your Flower Pots With Empty Plastic Water Bottles

Growing a container garden offers a problem-solver for both decorative plants and fruits and veggies in areas where space is an issue. They're perfect for home patios and apartment balconies, and even beginners can successfully grow a variety of plants in containers. But what happens when you want to try your hand at growing a lemon tree, or your root-bound hibiscus needs a much bigger pot to thrive? Large planters filled with soil to support the growth of a plant can be extremely heavy and difficult to move around. Plastic water bottles can provide the displacement you need to keep their heft to a minimum.

That's right, a few plastic water bottles at the bottom of a large pot, as suggested by the Oklahoma State University Extension, will provide some weight relief right where you need it. This easy peasy answer to reducing the heft of overweight containers isn't hard to accomplish. There are some steps to follow, however, to make this addition to your larger potted plants fruitful.

How to use empty water bottles as container fillers

The first thing to keep in mind is to not only make sure the bottles are empty and remember, but to screw the cap back on the bottle before placing it in the bottom of your container. Leaving the cap screwed on keeps soil from entering the bottle initially and water from accumulating there as you water the plant later (which can result in overwatering and root rot). Use enough bottles to give your pot some weight relief without taking up too much of the space needed for your plant's roots to stretch out and grow.

Once you have the desired number of bottles in the bottom of your planter, you can add potting soil to cover them. If your plant is root-bound, loosen the edges of your root ball a bit before placing it in the pot, as advised by Oklahoma State University Extension. In other words, you don't want to leave the root ball in the exact shape of the old pot. Add more potting media around the plant and on top to completely cover the roots. Take care not to tamp the soil down too tightly so the plant can get some air around the roots. Avoid filling the pot too full as well, since this can lead to soil washing out when you water the plant over time; filling it to about an inch from the top is a good guide.

How plastic bottles work to ease flower pot heaviness

Because empty plastic water bottles are so light in weight, they make the perfect bottom filler for a large container when heaviness is an issue. Empty and capped water bottles filled with air can take up quite a bit of space that would normally be filled with much heavier soil. This displacement offers some needed relief, especially when you're filling one of those beautiful splurge-worthy ceramic pots you've had your eye on. This hack works for all types of planters, though, including terra cotta and plastic to further reduce weight.

The side benefit to using plastic bottles for this purpose is that it lets you keep a few more out of the landfill, too. Since it takes a plastic bottle about 450 years to decompose, you can leave them in the bottom of your flower pot forever without ever having to worry about replacing them. So, the next time you want to try growing a larger plant or need to repot one, remember that empty water bottles can offer back-saving relief without harming your container garden.