Although not as common as they once were in rural Texas, Bottle Trees once were a common sight in the Lone Star State and thoroughout the South. Originally believed to be made by freed slaves, the bottles on these trees were often blue. Occassionaly you can still find some Bottle Trees with only blue "Milk of Magnesia" bottles on them. It is an old folk belief that bottle trees keep evil away from the home they are placed next too.
This is a great project and tradition to do with your family. It has African American cultural roots, but is now an activity for everyone. My family had fun doing this, it is a conversation peice in our yard. Bottle Trees are a great Texas Tradition to keep alive and spread.
My family had a dead fruit tree in the yard next to our Palo Pinto County, Texas home. We decided to continue the Bottle Tree tradition using this tree instead of removing it. We used soda bottles from our barn and several beer bottles from the woods on our land. Wine bottles would make a nice display. The bottles do not have to be old but different bottles, colors and shapes do make for a more interesting display.
To make a traditional Bottle Tree you need a dead tree, glass bottles, a hammer and some large nails. We placed our bottles on large nails; 8 penny, 3 1/2 inch long worke well. Hammer the nails into the tree in a random pattern. Place the inverted bottles on the nails so that they drain. Mix the bottle angles and colors.
If you don't have a dead tree you can also buy a post and hang the bottles on nails pounded into it. This can still be quite colorful and unusual. You can even put a colorfull birdhouse on top and make it a focal point in your yard.
If you are a weldier you can even make a rebar tree and hang the bottles over the rod branches. Another alternative is to hang the bottles with heavy cord or wire on a live tree. This is possible but you need to cork the glass bottles to keep water out from the rain.
This has been a great project. Our grandchildren love it. Now they want to find bottles to hang on the tree. Make a Bottle Tree with your family, you don't have to live in Texas.