Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bottle Trees for the Garden

1930's by Eudora Welty.  Taken for the Works Project Administration
Have you seen a tree with bottles and wondered what's the deal with that?  I've lived in Louisiana all my life and have seen a few and wondered the same thing.  When I saw one at a local plantation home that the hubby maintains, I just had to do a little research. It seems that bottle trees are pretty dominant in Louisiana gardens. 

Bottle trees are a Southern folk tradition with African roots.  Traditionally, live or dead crepe myrtle and cedar trees were decorated with bottles, often blue Milk of Magnesia ones.  The bottles were like a spirit catcher, intended to trap evil spirits and prevent them from entering the house. 

Bottle Tree at the St Francisville Inn, St Francisville, LA
According to, most people believe the bottle tree began in the 9th century in Africa, but there is evidence that it actually began around A.D. 100. The idea of the bottle tree, however, was brought to America by African slaves.

When bottles are hung from the bottle tree and the wind blows, you can hear whistling. It was thought that the whistling was evil spirits crying out after they were trapped in the bottles. It was believed that the evil spirits became trapped at night, and then when the sun rose in the morning, the first light would kill the trapped spirits. Blue is the preferred color for the bottles because blue was thought to attract spirits and ghosts.

Today, the idea of protection has been replaced with a desire to decorate. Bottle trees are added to gardens to add a unique decoration. Although blue was the preferred color in days gone by, today bottle trees contain bottles of many different colors.

Now, I've never seen a wooden bottle tree.  I have seen a dead or live tree but mostly ones made of iron or rebar. By brother, made one for his wife last summer.  Isn't it nice?  I think I'll have to get one for my yard.

Another story is that the spirits are mesmerized by the light reflecting off the glass, they enter into the bottles only to be trapped for all eternity.  Either way, it makes for an interesting read.  Do you have a bottle tree?  I would love to hear how about it.

Linking to:

Wow Us Wednesday @ Savvy Southern Style

What's Is Wednesday @ Ivy and Elephants

Bunny Hop @ Bunny Jeans Decor and More    

Outdoor Wednesday @ A Southern Daydreamer

Inspiration Friday @ the picket fence   

Vintage Inspiration Friday @ Common Ground


  1. Hi Tammy!

    I never knew! I have never seen one in person and just thought they were garden art. I had never thought to research this and I am so glad you did. I bet they sound spooky on a breezy night!

    Thanks for sharing this at my Bunny Hop Party!

    xoxo Bunny Jean

    1. Thank you, Bunny Jean! and Thank you for hosting the Bunny Hop on Wednesdays!

  2. I learned something today. Thanks for the inspiration to do likewise. mmmmm, will I remember when summertime comes? tee hee
    Joyce M

  3. I've only seen pictures of bottle trees in garden magazines, but never knew about the history. Very interesting! I have been thinking of putting one in the woods behind our summer cabin. A treasure in the woods ;-)

  4. That is so interesting-I do not have a bottle tree, but now I want to make one!

  5. Found you on SSS-I'm your newest follower-stop by for a visit!


Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! I try to return the favor and visit each one of you! ~Blessings, Tammy~