How To Make DIY Upcycled Terrariums (Bottle Gardens)

July 19, 2021

Do you have empty glass bottles? Did COVID turn you into a “plant person”? Here’s an easy and quick method to make some beautiful green decor for your home! It’s incredibly simple and cheap to do. I was able to use materials I had on hand to make two terrariums without spending a dime 🙂 .

There are two types of terrariums, but they are essentially made the exact same way. Open terrariums are suited for plants that do not do well in a humid or moist environment, and closed terrariums are great for plants that thrive in humidity. Terrariums can be customized according to your taste and are relatively low maintenance. In my case I was able to scavenge all the materials from my yard (moss, fern, acacia sapling for my closed terrarium and a baby aloe plant for my open terrarium).

Materials needed:

  • Clean glass or plastic bottles/jars
  • Gravel
  • Potting Soil
  • Charcoal (optional)
  • Plants
    • Open Terrarium: Aloe, Succulents, Air Plants, Cacti, or other plants that enjoy low humidity/need air flow
    • Closed Terrarium: Ferns, Moss, Orchids, Vines, or other plants that love moisture
  • Decorative Accents (sea shells, water-safe crystals, pretty rocks, whatever you’d like! I’ve seen photos of terrariums that look like landscapes, complete with buildings and statues—the possibilities are endless.)

Find a suitable jar for the type of terrarium you’d like. I chose an old candle jar for my open terrarium and an empty wine bottle for my closed terrarium.

Step One

Fill the bottom with charcoal and gravel. An inch or two should suffice, but a larger terrarium may require more gravel. This will ensure adequate drainage for your plants.

Step Two

Add potting soil. Be sure to use soil that works well with the plants you’ve chosen.

Step Three

Add your plants. I used a stick to dig holes for my fern and gum acacia sapling. The neck of my bottle was really narrow, which made putting the plants into the soil an exercise in patience. Next time I will pick a bottle with a wider opening!

Step Four

Add any decorative elements you desire and water if your plants need it. You’re all done! Keep your terrarium out of direct sunlight but in a well lit area. If you have a closed terrarium, open it periodically to aerate it. Enjoy watching your plants thrive in a beautiful environment you created!

I used small quartz crystals to decorate my open terrarium.


Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!


Photo: Jessi Ferguson

Jessica Ferguson
Jessi is an American expat living in India with her husband, child, and animal companions. She has been vegan for close to a decade and cares for sick and injured freely roaming animals with her husband. If she's not chasing after dogs or a toddler, Jessi can usually be found snuggling local cows, doing yoga, or meditating. For glow-ups of cute free roaming animals, check out @Karunya4animals on twitter!


always stay inspired!