Cool Thumb-controlled Watering Pot Made With Recycled Materials

I got the idea to make these thumb controlled pots from the pottery ones I’ve seen at Historic Williamsburg. The original earthenware “thumb pots” were used in 17th and 18th century English gardens. I reproduced this clever watering device using salvaged plastic bottles and jugs. It is ideal for watering delicate seedlings. I use this watering pot all the time now.

To Make:

Find a suitable “pot.” I love using maple syrup containers but I was successful making other smaller pots with smaller plastic milk bottles. The smaller bottles are easier for children.

Drill a hole in the center of the cap of your container. I used a 7/32nd drill bit. Next, drill small holes in the bottom. I used a 1/16th drill bit. When using softer plastic containers, it is possible to poke holes instead of using a drill. Make sure the cap is on tight; otherwise the water will not stay inside.

How it works:

It works similar to holding your thumb over the top of a drinking straw.

1. To fill your thumb pot, place into a bucket of water. Do not cover the hole in the top.

2. Hold your finger over the hole in the cap to prevent water from escaping the bottom as you lift.

3. Continue to hold your thumb over the hole as you lift.

4. Take your thumb off the hole when you are ready to water your plants. Removing your thumb allows the water to gently stream out the holes on the bottom.

How to hold a thumb pot.

50 thoughts on “Cool Thumb-controlled Watering Pot Made With Recycled Materials

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  3. claudia

    The heck with “little ones”, I’m going to make one and use it myself in my growing garden. What a great idea.

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  11. Emmon

    Wow! This is such a cool, creative idea. Plus it’s exact same maple syrup jug in my fridge — that is just about empty!!!! Thanks for the great photos and explanation!

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  13. David

    when I plant a new tree i take a 5 gallon bucket or jug and put it at the bottom of the tree and and have a small hole on the bottom edge and fill it with water to water the tree

  14. Char

    Buying honey at the gallon price and getting it in quart plastic jugs has provided me with materials i need to make several of these! I’m thinking they can also be dressed up a bit to look cute.

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  16. Andrew Perkins

    Love it! We live near the place in Western MA where they make these jugs (and the good stuff that goes inside!). There’s always a jug in with the plastics that I’ve said to myself “There’s got to be another use for this – I hate to just send it off to get recycled.”, now I have a use! Thanks again, will put a link on my site.

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  18. Ruthie

    What a great idea – I’m going to make these with my great niece and nephew – good excuse to make one for myself. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Scott

    interesting idea

    but wouldn’t it be easier to buy a sprinkler head that hooks up to the hose and does a shower.

    I have a lot of plants and this would take me forever to water all of them.

    It would be a neat idea for small patio gardens

  20. Laurie

    Great idea! I hate dragging a hose thru the garden, always end up squashing a poor plant with the hose and we have a garden beyond the length of the hose so we fill a big tub with water and haul it the rest of the way in a bucket and I end up wearing most ot it that way. This will make watering easier.

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  22. becky

    This is a great idea. The sprinkling cap broke off my watering jug and I’ve been too frugal (or just plain cheap?) to buy a new one. This will be perfect for watering my potted plants.

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  28. Rattle

    WHY? When you have a bucket of water sitting right there. Or just use the water hose that you filled the bucket with.

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  31. Beti


    @Rattle I’m not sure about the OP but for me, the gentle shower of water that this will deliver will be best for my seedlings.

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