April 13, 2009 Updates worth reading.
For Growing and Education Rather Than Decoration
These sub-irrigation (aka "self-watering") planters are as good as any you can buy, make that better than you can buy...and they're free.
Think of them as "plumbing" for plants rather than decoration. Read much more about how to use and conceal them here.
Made from repurposed (recycled) plastic soda (pop) bottles, they are both functional and educational. You can see exactly how sub-irrigation (capillary action) works as well as the status of the soil and root system.
A 1 liter bottle planter is roughly equivalent to a 4" grower pot, the 2 liter planter close to a 6" grower pot in volume and a 3 liter planter in the range of a 6 to 8" grower pot.
The first step is to remove the label.
Update: I now use a hair dryer, moving it quickly over the label to avoid melting the plastic.
Fill the bottle with very hot water. I heat enough water (not to a boil) on the stove to fill two bottles. Wearing oven mitts, and using a funnel I fill the bottles in the sink. If the water is hot enough, it will almost instantly melt the label adhesive.
Update: Using very hot (not boiling) water heated on the stove, I shrank a 2-liter bottle to about 1-liter size. Amazingly, the bottle was still in perfect proportion and shape. I have a feeling the manufacturers are tinkering with the plastic (probably reducing the wall thickness). I need to do some more water temperature testing and will post the results.
Make a vertical cut with scissors (or a sharp knife) down through the label and it will peel off leaving no label residue other than some of the adhesive. You can easily remove this with Goof Off, Goo Gone or peanut butter.
Note that if the label doesn't peel off easily, the water was not hot enough.