Plants for bottle gardens

Updated November 21, 2016

Terrariums, or bottle gardens, add feeling of freshness to your home along with a splash of colour and visual interest. Though children's terrariums often grow in plastic containers, you can make a more adult version in a glass gallon jar, clear glass sweet jar or even a lidded glass water jug. These pieces complement most decors by giving them an air of a greenhouse. However, you must be careful what you plant in your terrarium. The plants must have a certain size, shape and growth pattern to thrive in a bottle garden.


These lush, low-growing clovers fit perfectly into bottle gardens. They provide a foreground or border for taller central plants, helping colours stand out against their own green hue. Shamrocks typically grow on 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) stems that sprout three to seven round leaves. Depending on the species, the leaves may have green, white or purple stripes. Shamrocks grow from bulbs, meaning they require the basic bulb plant care. They like moist soil, cool air and partial sunlight. Layers of sand in the bottle and about three hours of sun a day should help them thrive.

African violets

African violets are very hardy, well-structured plants. They come in white and pink as well as the traditional purple; all have bright yellow centres. Their leaves and stems are thick and covered in light, downy fuzz. These violets grow very well in containers as long as their soil is kept moist, but not soaked, and they receive bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. Full-size African violets are too large for most terrariums; choose a miniature variety. The flowers grow no larger than a 5 pence piece and give your bottle garden a charming accent.

Prayer plants

Prayer plants grow so well in warm, humid environments that The Garden Helper specifically recommends gardeners plant them in terrariums. These short, leafy plants require very high humidity for survival and wilt in direct sun. Peat moss adds necessary acidity to the soil. Called prayer plants because they close their leaves at night, they sprout small oval leaves variegated with different shades of green. Their tiny, white flowers grow on thin stems and bloom in a trumpet shape.

Flame violets

Flame violets have such bright, vibrant colouring that they draw the eye right away. These little flowers have bright yellow centres that deepen to flame orange petals. The leaves make an equal impact with their teardrop shape sprinkled with dark green speckles on a pale green background. They grow no taller than about 7.5 cm (3 inches), making them perfect for a small terrarium environment. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and indirect sunlight.

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