Introduction: Reusing Lightbulbs: As Planters or Mini Terrariums

Picture of Reusing Lightbulbs: As Planters or Mini Terrariums

Light bulbs can be recycled in many forms and uses, although is not a new idea, check this site about reusing light bulb for chemical glassware testers , pretty cool, and here's another one using the same idea for a hanging vase and for salt and peeper containers (in french), it can be an excellent gift for Valentines (if you are in to that) or for any other day of the year. Finally back in my country in small town fairs they still use them as targets for shooting with airguns, which is better than just toss them in the trash I guess.

Hollowing the light bulb:
There are several instructables that had covered this already, although I first saw it in this site: DIY Hollow Out A Light Bulb, a very good step by step instructions in how to gutted out the bulb, (and also how to used for tester vessels for boil water and some other uses).
Here is another instructable about "How to hollow out a lightbulb and make a stand for it, pretty neat too.
and here a bunch of instructables more about light bulb uses an related stuff. Enjoy


Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

Hi, I've added your project to the "Unusual Uses for Light-Bulbs" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

SilentWolfPwnage (author)2009-12-01

I think the moss I have is just like not as carpetty grassy as the one in the pics... :(

Sorry? "just like not as"? I don't understand as I only speak English, Sorry.

"Isn't as" fits perfect

DJ JK (author)2014-04-17

This is a verry cool project. For easter, I have made one for my mother as a present. Let's see, wat she's going to say, when she will unpack the present. :)

akuhlmann (author)2014-01-19

These Are so pretty! I have to make One myself

Kelly02 (author)2013-06-26

I love this! This is so cute!!!

hmok (author)2012-12-10

I can't wait my light bulb to run off so i can start make some of these awesome planters!

blindinglights (author)2012-05-03

Very cool!!! Too bad all of the old light bulbs in my garage are fluorescent...

The Cartographer (author)2012-02-27

I really like this idea. I feel one could take this to some degree of madness and get something pretty astounding.

freeza36 (author)2012-01-24

this is awesome

alfojr (author)2011-11-05

may I ask you how the hell do you open the lightbulbs???
Thanks a lot :)

aeddinger (author)alfojr2011-12-11

rcosmo (author)2011-04-13

I made one today =)
Thanks for the idea!!!
Hugs from Brazil.

leesie (author)rcosmo2011-11-04

That is so pretty! How do you get the wire wrapped around so neatly? I need an instructable on that!

arte.sano (author)rcosmo2011-04-19

Man!, looks awesome!.

Electronics Man (author)2011-07-30

has anyone ever tried this with one of those big floodlamps? that would work great for a betta bowl.

instruct39 (author)2011-07-29

if you had a really small fish that didnt need alot of space, or a bigger light bulb and a betta (a betta doesnt need alot of space, but you would need a bigger light bulb to fit it in), anyways it could be a really cool fish bowl!

neetz (author)2011-07-29

love this! i want to make it sooo much!

ludwigrocker14 (author)2011-03-06

These are good and all but am I the only Pyro here??? What about a Molotov Cocktail... I guess thats not really going green though.
lol anyway good ideas!

Micizzle (author)ludwigrocker142011-05-18

LOL I thought the exact same thing...

Alberta Leong (author)2011-05-12

Simple and green idea!

Raziel7 (author)2010-12-04

Has anybody tried growing a plant from a light bulb with bio-luminescent algae added to the water?

A Instructable showing how to grow these glowing algae can be found here:

There are a few different kinds, some that give off glowing flashes when disturbed (can react to sound). Some species give off a constant glow.

I would be very interested in hearing about anybody that has maybe tried this? if nobody has i will probably combine these two projects since i wanted to do them both anyways.

Maybe I'll post an ible with instructions and my result.

anjenaire (author)2009-11-30

@matroska: maybe in Canada plants breath oxygen but here in the U.S. plants use carbon dioxide and create oxygen (handy for those of us that breath oxygen).  So without a source of CO2 the plants would die so yes a terrarium must be open to gas exchange. As far as I know the cycle doesn't reverse itself at night (so as increased levels of CO2 make Canada like Miami, plant life will flourish if we let it).

steveastrouk (author)anjenaire2010-01-19

No,  plants consume oxygen and give OFF carbon dioxide by respiration, in daylight, they ALSO photosynthesise and consume CO2. At night, they respire a less CO2 than they consume in daylight.

CodeKid1001 (author)steveastrouk2010-08-21

your crazy! :) If plants breathed oxygen, there wouldn't be any left for us!

chaydgb (author)CodeKid10012010-09-11

Ok, plants take in O2 and produce CO2 like all living things. *However* during the daylight, photosynthesis also absorbs CO2 and converts it to enough O2 for the plants use, plus some spare for all us animals. At night, photosynthesis stops and the plant goes back to taking in O2 and generating CO2. In all, plants absorb more CO2 and produce more O2 than they produce and absorb respectively, which leaves enough spare for animal life. I should imagine that in event of a nuclear winter, plants and algae will be a major contributor to reduction in atmospheric oxygen, what with there being so many of them.

steveastrouk (author)CodeKid10012010-08-22

Read the posts above, and learn some plant biology

kizzy87 (author)anjenaire2010-02-20

Ok, here's a little plant biology 101. Plants do not breath, they have no lungs! What they do is photosynthesise and respire. Most living things respire and during this chemical process they use glucose and oxygen, this produces carbon dioxide and water as waste products as well as energy. Where peopl seem to be getting confused is that plants also photosynthesis. Since plants cannot consume biological material (with the exception of some carnivorous and protocarnivorous plant like the venus fly trap and pitcher plant) they use energy from light, primarily sunlight, and carbon dioxide to make their own glucose. During photosynthesis oxygen is released as a 'waste' product. At night plants cannot photosythesise (so they don't produce oxygen) but they still respire (take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide). It's much like while we sleep at night we don't eat but we still breathe.

Now as a side note, this seems like a great little project and I'm a big fan of recycling during crafts. Now I just need to wait for one of my bulbs to go.  Unfortunately I'm systematically replacing all the bulbs in my house with the energysaving kind. I've yet to find a craft that reuses them when they go.  :-P

OhTea (author)2010-07-24

would you be able to hang the lightbulb from the ceiling? it would make a great installation.

artyman (author)2010-06-21

To Matroska: When plants do photosynthesis they take in carbon-dioxide and sunlight and make oxygen and plant sugars.

matroska (author)2009-11-29

 May I also suggest the use of a small magnet on the bottom of the terrarium, so that if you slide a penny under it, the attraction between the penny (or any coin, but please, don't try with a bill...) and the magnet will serve as a little stand. :)

It's just that around here, if I simply lay those lightbulbs on aluminium rings from hard drive they are very prone to be hit and thus very prone to be destroyed. OK, my suggestion doesn't totally guarantee that it won't be destroyed accidentally (perhaps I should switch to a safer environment ...).

eyepodd (author)matroska2010-06-01

 i thought excactly the same thing but i thought about using two small magnets one stuck to a platform and the other inside, then you can easly remove it.

benmanns (author)matroska2009-11-30

 Most coins (all United States coins) are non-magnetic, so you'll have to use another material for your base.

matroska (author)benmanns2009-11-30

Eh, I'm in Canada!

Many of our coins are ferromagnetic, in fact my portable change holder is just a chunk of neodynium. The only thing that doesn't stick is 5 cents.

So yea, be canadian for it to work :D
Or go get some canadian quarter!
(You get the idea.)

benmanns (author)matroska2009-11-30

Really? I never knew that. I think I might have a few Canadian coins strewn around my closet somewhere.

musicalbee2003 (author)benmanns2010-03-27

 And that's why I'm jealous of Canada.  

matroska (author)matroska2009-11-29

 In the bottom, I meant INSIDE it. Underneath the earth & stuff.

trebory6 (author)2009-11-30

Anyone have any ideas on how to remove the black ink writing at the top of the bulb without scratching the glass? Anything that was able to remove it scratched the glass as well on mine. I'm kind of a perfectionist, and want the bulb to be flawless.

Thank you!

bryce316 (author)trebory62010-01-07

Just rub the letters with an expo white board marker until the letters dissappear, then simply rub the marker off with your fingers. I found this out by accident when I was in 4th grade and have been using expo markers to remove unwanted marks from all sorts of things.

ubercurious (author)2009-12-06

 Ok, plants consume both oxygen and CO2.  During the day when they receive light energy, they use photosynthesis to convert CO2, water and sunlight into sugar and oxygen.  To use sugar, plants must use respiration, which they do both day and night.  

Gonazar (author)2009-11-23

Could you put down a little more information on how to go about making the terrariums? Also i thought terrariums are generally sealed, to keep the water in.

jeff-o (author)Gonazar2009-11-24

They can't be totally sealed, or the plants will suffocate.

matroska (author)jeff-o2009-11-29

 Well, I'm not an expert but I believe that if it's sealed and the plants comsumes all the oxygen, then yes they will soffucate. So in larger biospheres they must have some things that will use this oxygen and convert it back to carbon oxyde.

The Earth itself can be seen as a sealed biosphere (a rather large one).

By the way, I am not sure but .. isn't this cycle reversed at night? At night, doesn't the plant consume carbon oxyde and release oxygen?

olivaresfelipe (author)matroska2009-11-30

A true lesson indeed.. makes you wonder why human beings pollute the same place where they eat, sleep, etc.

Gonazar (author)olivaresfelipe2009-11-30

The cycle isn't reversed, plants consume C02, water and light and covert into sugar (and oxygen as a by product). At night this processed is just slowed down because it's missing the light it needs for energy.

I thought a terrarium was supposed to be sealed to keep the water in. To compensate for the C02 you could probably throw in a snail or something to make some.

dj-anakin (author)jeff-o2009-11-29

 A biosphere is completely sealed.

potsypdx (author)Gonazar2009-11-24

biospheres are sealed

hannahr (author)2009-11-29

A super easy way to make a stnad for this is to just use a big bulldog clip :) 

arte.sano (author)2009-11-23

Usually Slideshows are for showing ongoing projects, buy I'll explain a little more how to build a terrarium, which quite easy.
Follow first the instructions in how to open the bulb.
You must clean the inside of the bulb (usually bulbs had a white powder inside) be careful when you open, clean it with water and dry it with a paper towel.

For the terrarium I just used sand and/or planting soil for the base, drop a little inside of the bulb in a horizontal  position, no to much (1/4" or so), since the moss has a layer of soil itself, and  it needs to be a little moist so it wont move.

I found the moss in my backyard, pretty easy, look for dark or humid places around the backyard or if you go for a hike to the any park, it will be easy to find some different kinds of moss, just be respectful of the environment.
To put the moss inside the bulb split little pieces of the the moss "carpet" , small enough to fit the opening, I use a pair of tweezers and also chop sticks to set the pieces in place.

Keep it humid after finishing and I think, depending of the conditions, you might need to water once a week just a tiny bit of water, you will see some condensation inside the bulb, which is normal.
I use a ring (from a discarded hard drive) as base, be creative and resourceful.
I hope it helps, and good luck.

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