Judging by some of the amazing indoor jungles I’ve come across lately, it’s not really possible to have too many plants in your house. But building up your jungle with store-bought plants can get expensive fast. That’s where the ability to propagate your plants yourself can come in handy. Many plants can be propagated simply by sticking a leaf or stalk in water. (I’ll share a post soon with details and tips on easy plant propagation.) You can always use a random glass or bottle, but this test tube vase propagation station is a much more stylish solution. Or, if you don’t want more plants, you can just use it as a bud vase.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a scavenger. Okay, more than a bit. I’m a scavenger through-and-through. When I was looking for wood for this test tube vase, I went to my favorite source, the ReBuilding Center. But I knew I needed less than a foot of wood, so I found myself literally digging through their wood dumpster to find a scrap for this project. I found the perfect piece, so it was totally worth it, and I’d do it again in a second.
If you don’t have a good source of reclaimed wood near you, but want the same look, you have a couple of options. You could use new wood, and distress it to make it look older. Here are some techniques. You could also buy reclaimed wood from Etsy sellers. Or, just do what I would do, and skulk around demolition sites and dumpsters til you find appropriate wood.
Test Tube Vase Plant Propagation Station
Wood – I used a 1 1/2″ by 4″ piece of reclaimed wood. (I’d call it a 2×4, but those don’t usually actually measure 4″ wide.)
Glass test tubes – I bought mine locally at Paxton Gate, but I think these are the same ones, or a close match.
Forstner drill bit – I used a 1″ Forstner bit, but you may need a different size depending on your tube diameter.
1. Decide on the spacing of the holes, then cut the length of wood and measure and mark the locations of the centers of the holes on the thin edge of the wood. For 5 tubes, I cut my wood to 9″ long. The tubes are about 1″ (25 mm) in diameter, and I marked my first hole 1 1/2″ from the end of the wood, then made another mark every 1 1/2″ until I had marked 5 holes.
2. Drill the holes. Clamp down the wood, and start drilling slowly, but don’t put pressure on the drill until it’s up to full speed. Be sure to remove the drill bit about every inch or so, and even more often the deeper you drill, to remove the sawdust. Otherwise you can get your bit stuck! I drilled down as deep as my bit length would allow, about 2 3/4″.
3. Once you’ve drilled all of your holes, sand and seal the wood. You may want to stain before you seal.
Since I was using reclaimed, rustic wood, I wanted to keep the patina, but after getting a splinter under my fingernail, I decided I’d better do a bit of sanding to prevent more splinters. I oversanded and lost more of the wood patina than I was happy with, though. Then I remembered that months ago, I made up a solution of vinegar and steel wool to stain some wood for another project. Here are the basic instructions I followed. The solution was still sitting in my garage, so I gave this project a coat, and it darkened it way up. It was really strong from sitting around for months, so it turned it much darker gray than I expected. I’m still a fan, but I kind of miss the original brown tone of the wood.