What you will need:

  • An empty whisky bottle
  • A cork stopper
  • Homemade tools: a cork on a stick (for pushing down your layers), a long-handled spoon (for digging and shoveling), chopsticks and a cardboard funnel.
  • Small stones or pebbles, for drainage.
  • Soil
  • Activated charcoal, to keep the water fresh and avoid bacteria growing.


Kew Gardens recommend a number of plants perfect for a closed terrarium. You can choose one or two, depending on the size of your bottle.

  • Air plant (Tillandsia stricta)
  • Nerve plant (Fittonia)
  • Meadow spikemoss (Selaginella apoda)
  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachy)
  • Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)
  • Earth star bromeliad (Cyrpthanthus)
  • Inch plant (Tradescantia zebrina)
  • Hen and chicks (Echeverias)

Set Up

  1. Firstly take off the label and clean and dry your bottle well.
  2. Layer your pebbles on the bottom.
  3. Add in your charcoal, creating another fine layer.
  4. Layer your soil using your funnel and compress down for an even layer. Ensure it is deep enough for the plants roots to fit comfortably.
  5. Use your spoon to dig a small hole in the soil, and then squeeze in your largest plant. You can use your chopstick to ensure it is settled in nicely.
  6. Add your second plant if you have enough room. Make sure that they are not pressed against the glass because they need room to grow.
  7. Place larger stones, or moss to decorate - if they fit!
  8. Add a few teaspoons worth of water to kick off the ecosystem. With any luck, you won't ever have to water it again. Condensation should form on the inside and trickle back down to the soil. Though if your plants look thirsty, you can open the cork and add a few more teaspoons every 4-6 months. You'll know if you've overwatered if water forms on the surface of the plants. If this happens, simply take the lid off for half an hour a day, until it has remedied.
  9. Seal your terrarium with the cork.
  10. Store in a spot with plenty of sunlight.

The Best Bottles to Use

Any bottle will work with enough effort, however you're looking for one that's clear in colour with a large opening and a wide bottom to show off your plants. Here are our favourites:

Happy Crafting!