8 Ways to Grow In Coke Bottles

By

December 14, 2013

You don’t have to stick to any brand of beverage really, but Coke is popular globally. All you need is 2-liter soft drink (PET) bottles, though milk jugs and other types of large food-grade plastic bottles have a variety of gardening uses too. They’re easily recycled into more than one type of hydroponics system, along with more traditional forms of container growing.

The cost of them, as a growing container, certainly can’t be beaten. Depending on where you live, unreturned pop bottles cost 5-10 cents each, and in lots of places, they have no deposit, which means they’re free.

Coke / PET Bottle Passive Hydroponics

1. Passive Hydroponics

This is also known as a self-watering planter, or wicking – which is how seed starter trays work with the mat under the plant cells hanging into the water tray. It uses the same principle as Earthbox, but you need a wick. You’ll find people have good results with this setup using potting mix, vermiculite, and clay pellets.

One thing you really should do is paint the outside of the bottom half of the bottle to hamper algae growth in your reservoir. A lot of people leave them as they come. Why make more work for yourself when a little left over spray paint or the cheapest brand you can find solves the problem?

Learn more about Passive Hydroponics.

2. Hydro Farming

Think that recycling used bottles is reserved for home growing? Not at all. A smart farmer will look for ways to make use of what’s on hand because new tools and equipment cut into farm profitability. This setup could be engineered in a greenhouse too – if you’re not blessed with living in the tropics, or used just for summer growing. This grower in Brazil has a sizable operation – all based on 2-liter pop bottles and hydroponics.

Learn more about Hydro Farming.

Pop Bottle Hydro Farm

3. Closed System

The screw top element of a soda bottle also lends itself well to a closed hydroponics system plumbed with PVC pipe. This can be small with 10 planting spots or less, and it’s also scalable to a commercial size growing operation. Here the nutrient reservoir is a separate container. Note that the portion of the recycled bottles used was painted on the outside. Don’t forget that roots are subterranean dwellers. They don’t want or need light. The sun is only supposed to shine on leaf and stem.

You’ll find plans to build this system here. As you can see it has infinite scalability. Look at all those bottles that didn’t wind up in a landfill. They will last multiple years being put to the task of growing food.

Learn more about closed systems.

4. Vertical Gardening

Whether you water by hand or hook up a pump, once again, the used Coke or PET bottle offers a sound planting container for growing up instead of out. You can take advantage of either method inside or outdoors.

Learn more about vertical gardening.

5. Window Farms

Coke Bottle Seed Starting DomeThese can work with a pump and utilize passive hydroponics too. It all depends on how you set up your system, which is many times determined by the available budget. You can also purchase a WindowFarms system, but this system design started with recycled bottles. This setup uses a pump to get water to the top tier plants, and drip irrigation to all those below.

Learn more about window farms. 

6. Indoor Greenhouse

Keeping seeds consistently moist so they will sprout is a huge challenge without the right equipment. Use the bottom half to cover the pot to keep the surface from drying out.

Learn more about indoor greenhouses.

7. Drip Irrigation Reservoir

This works for container gardens, potted plants, and in the ground growing – depending on how you engineer your discarded bottle reservoir. The size of the bottle and your different needs will steer you to the right way to proceed. You can engineer the same setting using a drip catheter. You can jam a glass soda bottle full of water into a pot like these people. Or use the simplistic method of suspending the bottle with a tiny hole in the lid above your planters like you see here using recycled water bottles.

Learn more about drip irrigation.

8. Plant Containers

What is the difference between the bottom part of a beverage bottle and a plant pot? Drainage holes, opaqueness, and perhaps a little stylishness. For some types of growing, portions of soda bottles, water bottles, and beverage jugs work great. Just make sure you’ve added adequate drainage holes first.

Learn more about plant containers.

Recycled Bottle Growing Containers

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton

22 Comments

  • uganda micro gardening initiative March 12, 2014

    looking at these appropriate technologies, our efforts in Uganda have been inspired even the more. thank you very much for this link.

    • Hello Uganda – We’re glad to hear you found this post useful. Happy Growing 🙂

      • Im in Uganda have you done this here please ge tin touch i woudl like to see 0700195087

        • Hi Iqbal,

          We don’t know of anyone growing in Coke bottles in Uganda. Sorry, but you’ll have to research that on your own.

          If you wanted more information on the outdoor hydroponic bottle farm, everything we know is on this page. The site we found it on has no further details. It looks to be a drip irrigation system. The slanted racks use gravity to move water through the farm. It might be designed to recycle the nutrient solution.

          Try putting that together in a small garden to see how it works. Trial and error, and modification is your best approach.

          Good luck!

  • OMG this was soooo helpful, I have been wanting to start an indoor garden and needed some helpful and creative tips. Now I have container ideas, and watering ideas. THANKS!!!!!

    • Hi Laney –

      I’m glad you found it helpful. Happy growing 🙂

      • hi this is very helpfull…… can u plz tell me what type of plants can i grow in soda bottles …… as my project

        • Hi Jam,

          You will find that you can grow a wide range of garden plants in soda bottles, but approach your crop selection with some common sense. It’s not big enough for everything. Root crops like carrots, radish, and potatoes – it’s way too small. You might try a patio tomato, but a full sized tomato plant probably will suffer in such a small container. Herbs and lettuces, but plants that continue to increase in size long term where you pick the fruit will likely do well for a ‘season’. Like peppers – hot or bell – will probably do well for 6 months and then begin to show signs of not being real happy. The same with cucumbers, but it might be great for green beans – pole or bush. Of course with vines as cucumbers and pole beans are, you need a trellis and a lot more head room for raising the lights if growing indoors.

          One thing to keep in mind about gardening is that experimenting is all part of finding out what you can and cannot do. But those tips should help you start the process 🙂

  • Hydro Farming

    Think that recycling used bottles is reserved for home growing? Not at all. A smart farmer will look for ways to make use of what’s on hand, because new equipment cuts into farm profitability. This setup could be engineered in a greenhouse too for those of us not blessed with living in the tropics, or used just for summer growing. This grower in Portugal has a sizable operation – all based on 2 liter pop bottles and hydroponics.

    CAN YOU PLEASE SEND ME THE DETAILS ON HOW TO BUILD THIS HYDRO FARM USING 2LITRE BOTLLES.(STEP BY STEP DETAILS WITH PICTURES IF POSSIBLE)

  • I want to build a hydro farm same as the that was built bythe grower in Portugal. Please send me the plan.

    • Hi Magkati,

      We hunted down the only ‘plans’ for this hydro farm that are available. Here’s your links:

      Both those sites are in a Spanish dialect, but you can easily translate it to English or another language with Google Translate.

      Good luck with your build!

  • Hi,
    how can i get set up plans for the hydroponic operation in portugal so i can replicate.

    Thank you.

    Delia- Uganda

    • Hello Delia,

      The links with this information was just posted in last week’s comments above. Check out the pages in our response to Makgati right above your comment on this page. We have no other details, but it seems pretty easy to duplicate going by what you see in the images and the information on those two pages.

  • Please Help me for The greenhouse on the roof

    • We’d love to answer you better, but there is nothing about a greenhouse on a roof in this post. All the directions we know to exist are linked to on this page – in the article or in earlier comments.

  • very nice this set up now a days looks very cheap to grow plants

  • TOM MUSOKE May 29, 2015

    Great idea.
    I have been using polythene bags to carry out my indoor farming,which is very expensive both to buy and maintain.But with this great innovation i am going to become a role model in my community.
    TOM
    UGANDA

  • plastic cancer shit.. yum yum.. are u all dumb? i tried to avoid drinking from that, why would i for crist sick grow a food in that? u all wanna die? these bottles are made for one use, any manual damage causes spreading of chemicals in water, now in your soil.. sorry for english, i had to say something, We even had a negative influence of plastic bottle on humans health at school recently! and its high school – nothing special!

    • Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for sharing this info. However, not everything you hear about plastic bottles is true. For anyone interested in growing food in used pop bottles, water bottles, or other plastic beverage bottles… make sure you know what kind of plastic it is. Most drinking bottles today are known as PET bottles, though some countries may not have switched away from plastics that contain BPA. PET bottles are BPA-free, and do not leach cancer-causing chemicals when reused. Here’s the facts from Snopes:

      “Sorting out the various claims made about potential health issues associated with plastic water bottles is a difficult process, both because so many different claims about them are circulated and because the generic term “plastic bottle” can in fact refer to any one of several different types of bottles with distinctly different chemical properties.

      Water, soda, and juice are typically sold in bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE. These containers are intended to be disposable, single-use bottles, although many consumers wash them and re-use them to hold drinking water or other beverages. Some of the example items reproduced above claim that freezing or re-using PET bottles releases unsafe levels of carcinogens such as “dioxins” or the plastics additive DEHA (diethylhydroxylamine) into whatever liquids they may contain. However, such claims are inaccurate on two counts: DEHA is not used in the manufacture of PET bottles (nor is it created through the breakdown of such bottles), and DEHA is not classified as a human carcinogen”

      Even the American Cancer Society has debunked the claim that PET bottles leach dioxins or other cancer-causing chemicals. Lots more here on Snopes.com

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