DIY by: Bryant and Marko @thecozyhomegays

We made these fun semi-hydroponic planters out of upcycled wine bottles! Our version uses leca as a soil substitute. Leca are expanded clay pebbles that pull water up to the roots of your plant using capillary action. You can find large bags of leca on Amazon and even IKEA! These pebbles are reusable and can be easily boiled to kill bacteria when using for future plantings…talk about sustainability (and they cool too). Leca offers you the ability to easily check on your plants root system and takes the guess work out of watering! These are sure to be a unique accent in your decor and a fun DIY you can share with family and friends. 

Almost any houseplant can grow in leca but we recommend you do some research before converting any of your plants over to this system. Keep in mind that without soil, plants will need supplemental nutrients that they cannot get from water alone in order to thrive. Nutrients for semi-hydroponic planters can be easily found on amazon. This DIY planter can be adapted to use regular potting soil or even a cactus mix if you desire. 


Empty glass wine bottle with cork saved (cheers!)

Dish soap 

Baking sodaScrubbing pad/spongeLeca or soil

Small houseplant (look for small potted pants for fairy gardens or terrariums)

Self water wick cord (available on amazon)

Glass bottle cutter (we purchased a glass bottle cutter kit for under $30 on amazon)

Gloves (came with kit)

Rubber bands (came with kit)

Abrasive sanding paper (came with kit)

One pouring pitcher with near boiling water

One pouring pitcher with ice cold water


Step 1) Remove the label on your wine bottle. Soak your bottle in hot water with dish soap and a generous amount of baking soda for about an hour. Scrape off your label and use a scrubber pad and dish soap if needed to remove any stubborn stuck-on glue. 

Step 2) Plan your cut so that you have enough of a cup at the top (when turned upside down) to act as your leca/soil reservoir. Also ensure that the bottom half of your wine bottle (planter base and water reservoir) will be taller than the top so that the top piece will sit nestled in the bottom appropriately. 

Step 3) Make your cut following the directions provided with your glass bottle cutter. Using protective gloves, we carefully etched the glass using the cutter and then placed rubber bands on each side of the cut. The distance between the two bands was approximately 0.5”. Then, holding the neck of your wine bottle, run your near boiling water over the cut for about 20 seconds. To get a clean cut, try to keep your water inside the rubber bands. After 20 seconds, run your ice water over the cut. These temperature extremes will stress the glass and the bottom should simply fall off. 

Step 4) Sand down sharp edges of the cut using protective gloves and an abrasive sanding paper (included in some cutting kits). Sand until you have achieved a smooth and finished looking edge.

Step 5) Prep your cork by drilling a hole that will allow the soil to stay in your top soil reservoir while being large enough to run your wick cord through. You could get creative here if you didn’t want to use the cork…a coffee filter for example! For our leca setup, we used a small piece of mesh with a small hole cut that allowed us to run the wick cord through. You just need something that will allow your wicking cord to pass through while keeping your top growing medium from falling down into the water below. 

Step 6) Place your prepped cork (if used) into the top of the wine bottle. Now you’re ready to flip the top half of your wine bottle upside down and set into Your base. Almost there…now the planting fun begins!

Step 7) Position your wicking cord so that it touches the bottom of the wine bottle and will easily absorb water from the bottom reservoir. Run it up through the planter and leave enough at the top so you can wind it through the leca or in the soil and around your root ball (2-3”). This is what will draw moisture up and keep your plant happy. 

Step 8) Place your growing medium in the top while running your wicking cord throughout. If possible, avoid having the cord directly up against the glass so it doesn’t show. If using leca, be sure to rinse thoroughly to get off any clay dust before adding to your planter.  

Step 9) Plant it up! If using leca, ensure that you wash off as much of the soil on the plant’s roots as possible…remaining soil may cause root rot so ensure your roots are as clean as possible. Water in your plant from the top to give the growing medium a quick boost of initial hydration. 

Step 10) Place water in the bottom reservoir and starting bragging to your friends about your awesome DIY! 

Share your DIY in your story or post, and tag @thecozyhomegays and @itsamilitarylife with #DIY. We might feature your DIY on our Instagram!

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