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Create a bottle garden: plants, care tips and DIY instructions

Every amateur gardener dreams of a garden with little or no maintenance. Bottle garden, in principle, is exactly that: a small world of its own. Once planted, it can last for decades and needs no gardening at all, or very little. What goes into the bottle garden depends mostly on the container and your own preferences. Sometimes succulents are planted in an open terrarium, sometimes orchids go in a glass jar . Bonsai trees and carnivorous plants are also often found in large jars. We give you an overview of the variations and explain how to create a bottle garden.

Create a bottle garden: The basic principles

Bottle garden anleigen plants choose

The original concept of the bottle garden is very similar in principle to that of a greenhouse. Plants are planted in a glass container called a hermetosphere. The vessel is sealed airtight and placed in a sunny location. The sunlight warms up the vessel and causes the water to evaporate and various nutrients to form. In the evening, after sunset, the water condenses on the walls of the vessel and drips back onto the plants. In this way, a cycle is created that can provide the mini-garden with water and nutrients for years.

Nowadays, bottle garden is not necessarily understood as a closed eco-system. Increasingly, the term is also used to refer to plants in open terrariums. However, the basic principles are the same: the bottle garden requires very little water, and the plants thrive best in a warm location. It is very important that no direct sunlight should fall on the container. Therefore, the perfect location is a windowsill facing north or east, or a dresser or side table located near the window.

Which container for the bottle garden?

Bottle garden planting Terrarium plants choose

If you want to make a bottle garden yourself, then you should first choose a suitable vessel. In stores, you can find bulbous models that are perfect for the miniature garden. However, you do not have to spend a lot of money on a glass jar. In the household, you certainly have old bottles with cork lids or jam jars that can be sealed airtight. They also work well for this purpose. Here are several criteria you should consider when choosing a suitable bottle:

  • The jar should have a wide neck.
  • It should be able to be sealed airtight.
  • It should be made of clear glass. Frosted glass, glass with engravings, stickers, etc. is not suitable.
  • The more plants you want to have in the bottle garden, the larger the jar should be.

If you have already chosen a glass container, then you should clean it thoroughly and then rinse it with hot water. In this way, potentially harmful germs and bacteria will be killed and you will prevent mold from forming afterwards.

Create bottle garden: DIY tutorial

Create bottle garden step 1 the materials

If you want to make a bottle garden yourself, the first thing you should do is choose the plants. Get advice in this regard at the garden center. Below, we give you an overview of which plants are most commonly considered. After you have determined the plant mix, you can also choose the appropriate substrate. Indoor plant soil is well suited. If you want to plant orchids, you need special substrate made of bark. Bonsai trees also have special requirements and need a special coarse-grained soil. No matter what plants you have chosen, be sure to cover the bottom of the bottle with a layer of drainage. Expanded clay, brick chips and crushed porous lava rocks work well.  Planting itself can prove to be a difficult task. Skill and patience are most needed here.

Make bottle garden yourself: The right soil

Bottle garden planting container choose ideas


Below comes instructions on how to make a bottle garden yourself. You will need the following materials:

  • A glass bottle with a cork lid
  • Expanded clay, brick chips or lava stones for the drainage layer
  • 1 tablespoon of charcoal (crushed, you can mix the charcoal with the substrate)
  • Substrate for houseplants
  • Plants of your choice (plan for a maximum of 2 small plants per 1 liter capacity)
  • tools: a narrow trowel, a funnel and a fork
  • a tree branch or 40 cm long chopsticks (used for cooking in Asian cuisine)
  • adhesive tape
  • Moss

Proceed as follows: First, spread a finger-thick drainage layer of expanded clay on the bottom of the glass jar. Cover this layer with soil. You can use a funnel if the neck of the glass bottle is not wide enough.

What plants for the bottle garden?

Create bottle garden step 3 which plants

Exotics that can withstand heat and high humidity do best. Such include small-growing ferns such as maidenhair fern, gold-spotted fern, and white rabbit’s foot fern. The bubicoot and Indian water pennywort also love the warm and humid climate in the bottle. Orchids also feel at home in the bottle garden. Some varieties of carnivorous plants and succulents and cacti can also thrive as long as you leave the container open.

Create bottle garden step 4 care


To make the plants fit through the bottle opening, you can shape them first. Tape the trowel to the tree branch and dig a hole for each plant. Then you can add the plants one by one into the bottle and plant them with the trowel. Take your time doing this, as it can prove to be a difficult task, especially for containers with a narrow neck. To end up with a coherent overall look, try to position the smaller plants at the edge and the larger ones in the middle.

Bottle garden with bonsai

Bonsai tree in bottle garden

A harmonious landscape in miniature: this is how to describe the bottle garden with bonsai. For the terrarium, the bonsai trees of the Ficus Ginseng or Ficus Microcarpa genera are particularly suitable. To create a beautiful mini-garden, you will still need the special soil for bonsai trees, moss and about half a handful of puzzolans (a decorative mix of various small stones). You will also need a wide-necked container to put the bonsai trees in. Proceed similarly to planting ferns: Spread a drainage layer on the bottom first, followed by a soil layer, and then place the trees in the center of the jar. Decorate with the stones and then place the moss balls around the tree. Now water the garden in miniature and place it in a sunny location. However, do not close the glass.

Bottle garden bonsai planting instructions

Bonsai trees thrive best in the sun and cannot tolerate waterlogging well. That’s why you should avoid putting the lid on at all costs.

Create a bottle garden with orchids

Bottle garden with orchids instructions (1)

Orchids are also perfect for the bottle garden. The plants thrive best in a bright but off-sun location and can do with very little nutrients. Orchids, by the way, need a special soil. Here’s how to create the bottle garden with orchids step by step:

1.You need a clean and dry glass jar with a wide neck and a capacity of at least 3 liters.

2. put the drainage layer of lava stones in the jar, it should cover the bottom of the jar and be as thick as a finger. Try to distribute the stones as evenly as possible.

3. fill a coarse-grained orchid substrate made of pine bark into the glass jar. If necessary, you can make a funnel out of clay cardboard, as this will allow you to distribute the substrate evenly.

4. take the plants out of their flower pot, remove the soil and shorten the roots a bit. Using a narrow trowel, dig a small hole and place first the orchid, and then moss in the bottle garden.

Water the bottle garden with rainwater, leaving the lid open so that the water can evaporate and not form waterlogging. This is because orchids can tolerate moisture well only for a short time and prefer dry soil.

6. two-three days after you have created the bottle garden, you can close the lid and put the bottle in an out of the sun place.

Make your own bottle garden with carnivorous plants.

Bottle garden carnivorous plants instructions

Exotics like carnivorous plants can also thrive in the bottle garden. Unlike bonsai trees and orchids, you can close the lid and not worry about waterlogging as long as you use a substrate for terrariums. It can be found in stores under the name Vermiculite. The following plants are quite suitable for it:

  • Tube plants
  • Sense plants (mimosa)
  • Venus flytrap

First put the lava stones in the glass jar, spread over them the substrate for carnivorous plants mixed with 2 tablespoons of substrate for terrariums, dig small holes, put the plants and cover their roots with soil. Spread moss over it and water the plants. You can put the lid on and open the container every two weeks and ventilate it briefly.

Bottle garden care: what you should pay attention to

Bottle garden care the most common mistakes

Creating a low-maintenance mini garden is very easy. However, in order to enjoy it for a long time, you should consider a few things when caring for it. Here are the most common mistakes at a glance:

  • Pouring too much substrate into the jar. The more substrate, the more nutrients the plants get and the faster and more lush they grow. Mini orchids and bonsai trees are often given special growth inhibitors in the garden center. The same goes for fertilizer, by the way.
  • Water too much and too often. Plants in a closed container need much less water than those in flower pots. Therefore, to avoid waterlogging, water only when the soil is completely dry, and then only a third of what the plant would normally need.
  • The right location plays a crucial role. The bottle garden should not be placed too close to the heater.
  • Dead plants, withered flowers and leaves should be removed from the bottle garden as soon as possible.