(Blogpost auf Deutsch hier)
Do you find it difficult to water your plants regularly, but your dream home is green and full of plants? Or are you a big plant lover and just want to expand your collection? Or do you just love the look of terrariums and want to create your own?
Then this is the right post for you! I will explain which plants are suitable for terrariums, what you need for it and how to maintain it.
What is a Terrarium aka Bottle Garden?
You can think of it as a mini greenhouse that has its own little cycle with the need to add very little water. This is because the moisture evaporates over time on the inside of the glass, then trickles down and re-moistens the roots. So you have to water extremely little and don’t really have to care for it once it’s established. There are half open and closed terrariums. Today I will show you both options.
I planted these three terrariums in August 2020 and tested them for the past few months and can tell you what works and what doesn’t 🙂
1.Step: Utensils & Plants
- Jar: You need a suitable jar, such as a 1-1.5 L mason jar with a lid. For a half-open terrarium, I use a mason jar with a wire bail lid, which I can then leave half open.
- Plants: Not all plants are suitable for to grow in a terrarium, as some don’t like it damp, or they grow too big too fast. Moss, small ferns or fittonia fit best. Cacti and succulents are also suitable for a terrarium, but only for a semi-open or fully open one.
- Soil: Special plant soil is available for cacti and succulents. It is best to ask the store directly when buying plants which soil is best.
- Stones: In order for the water to drain well, the terrarium needs small stones. This prevents the water from accumulating and avoids root rot.
- Water: Once planted, the terrarium must also be watered to “start” the cycle. But here I recommend filtered water.
- Utensils such as a funnel, maybe a cactus tweezer and a long spoon are of course useful
You can find all the utensils either at your local hardware store, plant store, home goods store, or online (affiliate links, see below for what that means):
Shops in Germany:
Shops in UK:
Shops in USA:
In the pictures you can see fittonia plants and succulents.
2. Step: preparation
- wash all utensils and the glass thoroughly and hot to avoid bacterial proliferation. Also check your plants for pests, as they could quickly destroy your terrarium dreams
3. Step: Planting
- first add a 2-3cm thick layer of small stones into the terrarium.
- then a thick layer of plant soil – here I used a small spoon to avoid making the glass walls too dirty. A wide funnel would also work well
- Then form a small hole in the middle of the soil with your fingers or the spoon and put 1-3 small plants (depending on the size of the glass) carefully into it and press it gently with some soil.
- Then add a small layer of stones (or moss) on top of the soil.
4. Step: First watering
- water with low-calcium / filtered water.
- The amount depends on the plant and the size of the container – it’s best to follow the watering instructions when buying the plant, I used around 30-50ml for the jars in the pictures.
- The whole thing takes some time to get going anyway, so it is ok if there is a bit too much or too little water at the beginning.
- After that you can close the jar, but pay attention to the next step!
5. Step: Care
- It can take days to weeks for the system to establish. Until then, you’ll probably see a lot of condensation inside the glass. If it’s just a few drops in the morning, that’s okay. If it looks more like a rain shower, or the condensation never goes away, then open the glass for a few hours. I just opened and closed the whole thing on and off over a couple of weeks.
- The terrarium likes a bright but not too sunny location, otherwise it will “sweat” too much 🙂 But especially succulents need a lot of light. For example, my succulent stood too long in a spot that was too shady and therefore grew unfortunately a bit too narrow and long, growing upwards instead of outwards. It still looks ok, but not as wide and lush as a typical succulent.
- Every few months the terrarium may also need watering. My fittonia in particular needs a little more water every 3 months. My bottles are not all perfectly airtight and I don’t think I had enough water in the fittonia terrarium when I sealed it.
- Open or half-open containers also rarely need water, because the condensed water still collects at the edge of the glass and runs down into the soil.
- In general, just check if the plant is doing well and how it is developing. If it does not work well with one type of plant, it may work better with another!
I created, as you can see in the pictures, three plant terrariums in August 2020. Now it’s May 2021, two terrariums are still doing great and I’ve hardly done anything with them. In between we renovated, moved out, it was briefly too cold and then too warm too quickly for the plants to adjust, I was not on site, and still two of the little bottle gardens survived. The third unfortunately died because it had too little water and I was not at home for weeks to check on it. In addition, as I said, a succulent grew a little too high and too long, because its location was not sunny enough.
You can of course also buy great already-prepared DIY kits (affiliate links):
Shops in Germany:
Shops in UK:
Shops in USA:
Have you already created a beautiful little bottle garden yourself? Or do you now have the urge to make a small DIY plant terrarium? Feel free to write me a comment if you have any questions!