Have you wandering how to repurpose your old bottle, and thinking what could you have done with it and give it a new purpose? if you’ve found yourself captivated by the world of terrariums, then you might be playing with the idea of merging the two – creating a magical, green world inside a bottle. However, as you question the possibility of this idea, let me assure you that not only is this doable, but it’s also one of the most fascinating types of terrariums you can craft. Even better, it’s simple enough for beginners wondering how to start a terrarium.
Bottle terrariums are highly versatile, allowing you to repurpose a wide variety of containers. It could be a whiskey bottle, a gin bottle, a cute mini bottle, or even a plastic bottle – the options are boundless. But why stop at bottles? With some creativity and flair, you can turn practically any clear container into a terrarium.
This comprehensive guide will teach you how to make a terrarium in a bottle – be it an open or a closed one. So, buckle up, prepare to get your hands dirty, and create your very own, unique piece of nature’s art.
The Essential Materials
When you set out on your journey to make a terrarium, you will need a few essential items. Let’s take a look at what these are:
- Empty bottle: This will be your canvas. Select it with care.
- Baby Nephrolepis Fern: This is my go-to plant for bottle terrariums, but there are several suitable alternatives.
- Fine grain gravel: Options include pea gravel, lava rock, and molar clay.
- A long chopstick: You will need this to arrange the elements in your bottle.
- Spray bottle: To water your plants, especially during the setup process.
- Funnel: If you don’t have a funnel, worry not! You can simply fold a piece of paper in half and use it as a slide.
- A pair of long tweezers: This isn’t a necessity, but it will make your job a whole lot easier.
- Terrarium soil: Regular garden soil won’t cut it; you need soil specifically made for terrariums.
These are the basics you’ll need to get started on your bottle terrarium project. Once you have these ready, you can start creating your mini green masterpiece.
Choosing the Right Bottle
The first step in learning how to make a terrarium is understanding that your bottle selection is as crucial as the plants you put in it. Any bottle can become a terrarium, but not all bottles will do justice to your little green world.
While a plastic bottle is an option (it’s fantastic for children’s projects), it does not quite match up to the elegance of a clear glass bottle. The bottle you select contributes significantly to the aesthetic appeal of your terrarium.
When selecting your bottle, consider these aspects:
- Design: The design of your bottle can add an interesting visual element to your terrarium. It could be an old-timey flask, a sleek modern bottle, or a whimsical twisted one.
- Width: The bottle’s width will determine the space you have to plant and design your terrarium. A wider bottle could be easier to work with, especially for beginners.
- Size: If you want more room for creativity, opt for a larger bottle. However, bigger bottles might be trickier to handle.
- Color: Clear bottles are your best bet. Colored bottles may look interesting, but they can block sunlight and distort the view of your plants.
For example, I am partial to using a 1L Jack Daniels bottle for my terrarium projects. Its cubic shape provides plenty of space to arrange the plants and decorative elements. Plus, its distinctive look adds a touch of charm to any space.
Here are a few other bottle types that make for good terrariums:
- Wine bottle
- Glass water bottle
- Whiskey bottle
- Carboy bottle
- Any general alcohol bottle
The liquor section in your local supermarket might just be the perfect place to hunt for unique bottles for your next terrarium project. Who knew that learning how to make a terrarium could be so intoxicating?
Selecting Your Terrarium Plants
Plant selection is a crucial part of learning how to make a terrarium. The plants you choose must be able to thrive in the specific conditions of your bottle terrarium.
For closed bottle terrariums, you should focus on plants that love humid environments. These environments are typically created in closed bottle terrariums, as the sealed environment allows for the creation of a self-sustaining water cycle. Here are a few examples of plants that thrive under these conditions:
- Baby Nephrolepis Fern
- Lemon Button Fern
- Fluffy Ruffles Fern
- Silver Ribbon Fern
- Maidenhair Fern
- Nerve Plant
- Polka Dot Plant
- Radiator Plant
- Little Tree Plant
- Aluminum Plant
- Creeping Fig
- Moon Valley Pilea
For open bottle terrariums, you have a bit more leeway with your plant choices. While mosses should be avoided (they prefer the humidity of closed terrariums), most other plants should fare well in an open terrarium. However, you will need to pay closer attention to watering, as open terrariums can dry out more quickly than closed ones.
So, that wraps up our introduction to bottle terrariums. Up next, we’ll delve into the actual steps of making your terrarium, from setting up your bottle and choosing your plants to arranging your layout and maintaining your new miniature ecosystem. Stay tuned!
Setting Up Your Bottle Terrarium: A Step-by-Step Guide
So, you’ve gathered your supplies and you’re brimming with excitement, ready to discover how to make a terrarium. It’s time to bring all these elements together and craft your masterpiece. Let’s walk through the process:
Step 1: Preparing Your Bottle
Begin by thoroughly cleaning your bottle. You want to ensure that there are no residues that could potentially harm your plants. Once cleaned, dry it completely. This is crucial to prevent the growth of mold and other unwanted organisms. When your bottle is spotless and dry, it’s time to start building.
Pour around 2cm of fine-grain gravel into the bottom of your bottle using the funnel. This creates a drainage layer, which helps to prevent water from becoming stagnant at the root level and causing root rot.
Step 2: Add Your Soil
Next, add about 3 to 4cm of terrarium soil into the bottle. Make sure you use a funnel to guide the soil in without making a mess. Lightly spray the soil with filtered water, dampening it without saturating it. This preps your soil for planting and encourages the development of a healthy water cycle once your terrarium is closed.
Step 3: Planting Time
Now, the fun part! Using your chopstick, carefully make a hole in the soil where you want your plant to go. Remember, this is your mini landscape – feel free to get creative!
Step 4: Introduce Your Plant
This step requires patience, a steady hand, and a bit of finesse. Begin by dividing your plant into smaller parts. If you’re using a fern, this process should be straightforward. The goal is to maintain as much of the root structure as possible while creating a plant piece that can fit through your bottle opening.
If you find that your plant doesn’t fit, fear not. You can simply remove some excess soil from the root system. Then, dampen the root and gently mold it into a more elongated, thin shape. This should allow your plant to slide through the bottle opening with ease.
Step 5: Securing Your Plant
Now that your plant is inside the bottle, place it in the prepared hole. Using your chopstick or a pair of tweezers, firmly press the plant into the soil, ensuring it’s secure and upright.
Voila! You’ve learned how to make a terrarium. But, hold on. The journey doesn’t end here. The care you provide from this point onward determines the longevity and health of your little green oasis.
Light Requirements: Keep it Bright but Not Direct
Proper lighting is crucial to keep your bottle terrarium healthy. It’s important to strike a balance between too much and too little light. Ideally, your terrarium should be placed in a north-facing window or under a warm white or daylight white light bulb in a regular lamp.
To gauge the light level more accurately, you can use a light meter app on your phone. For a Baby Nephrolepis Fern, aim for a light level between 200 to 600-foot candles. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. These apps are quite user-friendly and will guide you through the process.
One vital point to remember: never place your terrarium in direct sunlight. While your plants need light, direct sunlight can overheat your terrarium and harm your plants.
Watering Your Terrarium: Less is More
Due to the lack of drainage holes, watering your bottle terrarium requires caution. Overwatering is the most common mistake people make when learning how to make a terrarium. The soil should be slightly damp, but not wet or saturated. Remember, too much water can lead to root rot and eventually kill your plants.
If your bottle has a lid, ensure you remove it every few days to allow fresh air in. If the opening of your bottle is small, you can leave the lid off permanently. However, without a lid, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the moisture levels in your soil to prevent your terrarium from drying out.
There you have it! You’ve not only learned how to make a terrarium, but also how to care for it. Your bottle terrarium is a living piece of art, a piece of nature you can admire right in your own home. Enjoy the process and the rewarding experience of creating and maintaining your very own terrarium. It’s a green thumb’s journey of creativity, patience, and careful nurturing.
Don’t be alarmed if you see old leaves die. That’s totally normal. Plants often shed older leaves and push out new ones.
What you can do is remove the leaves if you wish or you can add springtails to your terrarium. Springtails are a type of microfauna that feed on mold and decaying matter. A fallen leaf in a terrarium will eventually mold and decay the springtails will feed on that.
We firmly believe that a bottle terrarium is the easiest kind of terrarium you can make because it’s just one plant in a bottle with a little bit of terrarium soil and it could not be simpler.
You have plenty of room for creativity, from the type of bottle you choose to the plants you use, and how you arrange them.
We personally love the ship-in-a-bottle type of bottle terrariums. But there are so many designs you could experiment with.
Good luck! We hope this guide was helpful and that you enjoy the process of creating your own bottle terrarium. Remember, the key is to have fun and let your creativity shine!