How to Make a Bottle Terrarium

Written by jessica cook
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How to Make a Bottle Terrarium
Use an empty plastic bottle to make a terrarium. (water bottle image by Radu Razvan from

A terrarium is like a miniature greenhouse. Take an empty 2-liter soda bottle and turn it into a terrarium; you will have an indoor planter that is like a miniature ecosystem in a bottle. This activity is suitable for children and adults, with minor supervision needed for one or two steps. Bottle terrariums are inexpensive to create and relatively simple to maintain, and once the plants begin to outgrow the bottle, you can transplant them easily to your garden or a larger container.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2-liter sized bottle
  • Scissors
  • Rocks
  • Moss
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil or dirt
  • Seeds or plants
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Cut the bottle in half. Use scissors to cut the top two-thirds of the bottle and separate it from the bottom one-third. Set the top portion off to the side for now.

  2. 2

    Put a handful of rocks in the bottom of the bottle. The rocks should just cover the bottom portion of the bottle. The rocks will help excess water flow to the bottom of the bottle; the water can be used later when it is needed.

  3. 3

    Layer 1/2 inch of activated charcoal on top of the rocks. Then add another 1/2-inch layer or so of moss. The charcoal filters and purifies the water as it moves throughout the terrarium, and the moss prevents the soil from falling to the bottom of the bottle while still allowing the water to flow freely through the layers of the terrarium.

  4. 4

    Add potting soil or dirt, up to approximately 1/2 inch from the top edge of the bottom portion of the bottle. Plant seeds in this soil or use small seedlings; you can choose any kinds of plants you like for this particular project, from flowers to vegetables. Plant six to 10 seeds and as they grow, you can pull out the weakest plants and leave the two or three strongest ones in the terrarium.

  5. 5

    Water the soil so that it is moist but not soaked, and position the top of the water bottle so that it covers the bottom portion, with the edges overlapping slightly. If you cannot get the top to go over the bottom, cut a 1-inch slit down the side of the bottom portion to make it fit.

  6. 6

    Place the terrarium in partial sunlight and water it often enough for the soil to remain moist, but not soaking or drowning.

Tips and warnings

  • If you do this activity with a child, you may need to sand down the edges of the plastic bottle after cutting to prevent injury. An adult should do the cutting part of this activity alone.

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