Reusing uses less energy than recycling, so use those bottles to water your plants.

How to Make a Small Irrigation System for Potted Plants

by Jourdan Townsend

Proper watering is one of the most important strategies for maintaining the health of your houseplants. While some potted posies remain hearty even if neglected, other finicky flora will shrivel after merely one day of missed hydration. If you’re the forgetful sort, or if you are preparing to be away and have no one reliable to watch your houseplants for you, an irrigation system may be the answer. Rather than the huge tanks and long hoses that might come to mind, an efficient, small plant irrigation system can be constructed from common household items.

Wash the bottle and cap well with warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry the items thoroughly. Ensure that no residue remains on the cap or inside of the bottle.

Clamp the screw-on bottle cap to a sturdy work surface and attach a 1/16- inch drill bit to the drill. Drill 4-6 holes around the vertical outer edge of the bottle cap, as evenly spaced as possible. Make 1 or 2 holes in the top of the cap for more rapid water dispersal.

Make a mark on the bottle approximately one-quarter of the way up from the bottom. Align a sharp knife blade with this mark and cut laterally through the bottle to remove the lower quarter. Rinse the bottle and cap to remove any residue from cutting and drilling.

Screw the cap back onto the top three-quarters of the bottle loosely. Measure from the top edge of the cap to the bottom edge of the bottle. Divide this measurement in half.

Dig a hole in the soil next to your plant. Make the hole as deep as the final measurement from Step 4. Place the bottle, cap down, into the hole and fill in around it with the removed soil until the bottle is stable.

Fill the open end of the bottle, which is facing up, with water. The water will slowly exit through the holes in the cap and into your plant, only giving it as much water at once as necessary. Make additional irrigation bottles for large plants or trees, or for species that require a great deal of water.

Items you will need

  • Plastic bottle with screw-on cap, 2-liter size
  • Vice clamp
  • Drill bit, 1/16 inch
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp knife
  • Gardening spade


  • Tighten or loosen the bottle cap to control the flow of the water.


  • Use eye protection when drilling. Use caution when using tools and sharp instruments.

About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images