Introduction: Tiny Terrariums

Picture of Tiny Terrariums
Here is a great, easy and inexpensive project perfect for kicking off the weekend with the family or getting in touch with your inner farmer.  Also, a great way to introduce "The Water Cycle" to kids and teens.  

Step 1: Materials Used in This Project

Picture of Materials Used in This Project

Materials used in this project include:

Glass Bottles 

Seed Beads 

Chopstick or Pencil 

Potting Soil

Any seed that will stay small as a plant (we used Chamomile) 

Step 2: Pour Them Beads!

Picture of Pour Them Beads!

Alrighty, first things first.  Take some seed beads and fill the bottom of the jar to about 1 centimeter.  The space between the beads allows the soil room to drain as well as helps create humidity within the jar (once water is added) therefore watering itself!  

Step 3: Pack That Soil!

Picture of Pack That Soil!

Now, carefully pack about a tablespoon of soil into the jar without disturbing the seed beads at the bottom.  You want the jar to be jusssst about half full of dirt in order to leave enough space for your little plants to grow! 

Step 4: Poke Poke Pour

Picture of Poke Poke Pour

And now, take your chopstick or pencil and poke poke poke a little hole in the center of the soil.  Don't poke a deep hole but dig enough to leave a small impression; a dent, if you will.   This is where we will aim when we pour our seeds!  

Once you have poked a satisfactory pokily hole, pour in ze seeds!  (About 20-25 seeds will be more than enough.  Remember, we want to give the seeds some breathing room) 

Depending on what depth your specific seed packet suggests, gently take your poker and cover the little seed babies with just enough dirt, as if you're tucking in the cutest little ducklings into the cutest little duckling bed. You know, gentle and caring cause seed babies appreciate a gentle tucking in too.    


Step 5: The Miracle of the Water Cycle

Picture of The Miracle of the Water Cycle

After covering the seeds with dirt, pour in about  a teaspoon of water (careful not to drown it like I did) and close it up with cork or cap.  There should be enough water to seep down to the bottom of the jar where the seed beads are. Your Tiny Terrarium is now set and you shouldn't have to water it again (so long as you keep the cap on)  thanks to the miracle of "The Water Cycle".

*Water from the bottom of the jar will rise as evaporated gas and stick to the sides of the jar as condensation.  When the droplets are large and heavy enough, they will slide back down to the dirt as precipitation, therefore watering the plants by itself.  It's an indoor rainstorm!    

Science rocks, doesn't it?! 

Let your Tiny Terrarium sit in a warm, bright, sunny spot and in a few days the fruits of your labor should appear 
as little, leafy plants emerge from the dirt and continue to grow as large as the glass bottle will allow them to.   

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and until next time ;D



TheBestUsernameEver (author)2015-10-20

what are the seed needs for exactly?

AlexMcG (author)2015-05-03

Unless you use moss, eventually you will have to let the water evaporate and add new water with some type of fertilizer, since that tiny amount of soil won't hold much in the way of nutrients. Also, without a layer of activated carbon, you water will eventually go stagnant. As an educational activity about the water cycle, that's not terribly important, but if you want the plant to live for more than a few months, it is.

starforest (author)2015-02-26

What happens when the plants grow too big for the jar?

penguin01234567 (author)2014-11-25

Wow I can't wait to try this! But do you guys think this will work with moss? I like the way that looks

sabu.dawdy (author)2014-10-10

so kool

Ploopy (author)2014-02-25


Captain MacTavish (author)2013-12-21

instead of using beads i used different coloured rocks

wicaxonos (author)2013-09-17

this is beautiful, what are the cap substances?

alisha145 (author)wicaxonos2013-10-03

Hi Wicaxonos,

The caps are just plain ol' cork.


BigRed352 (author)2013-09-07

I just so happen to have a bunch of tiny bottles and some tiny beads. Now all I need are some tiny seeds!....did I just rhyme? Oh well. I think I might make mine into a necklace, though. Just put an eye hook screw in the cork and put it on a chain. Then I can show off my baby garden!

alisha145 (author)BigRed3522013-10-03

Hi BigRed!

That would be awesome! Send us a pic of what you make and we'll post it on
our Facebook page!


Shadri (author)2013-06-07

This is a really really cool idea! One question, though: How do the plants breathe if the jar is closed all the time? (I'm a tree hugger, I worry about plants) :)

alisha145 (author)Shadri2013-06-07

Hi Shadri,

It's totally ok to open the bottle every few days for a quick second to refresh the air. I do it every few days and these little guys in the photo have been going for about two whole months now! I worry too, that's why I try to take care of them the best i can :)


Shadri (author)alisha1452013-07-31

That makes sense. (facepalm) :P Thanks for being smart!

Another question: do you think I could make a terrarium with one of these tiny Tabasco bottles? If so, what seeds should I use? :)

alisha145 (author)Shadri2013-08-07

Hi Shadri,

I totally think you can! I like using the chamomile seeds because I know they will stay small. Give it a try and let me know how it goes :D


dhusted-mason (author)2013-07-15

So cool thanks for sharing

alisha145 (author)2013-07-08

Hi Lexy,

Yes, small, round beads work as well. Since they are round, there will always be space in between them when they are resting together.


Harley Warren (author)2013-06-22

One of the nicest instructables about tereeariums on here. good work and nice images.

alisha145 (author)Harley Warren2013-06-23

Aww, Thank you, Harley!


Mand0o (author)2013-06-19

I love this idea! However, I did try it and the insides of mine developed a fuzzy whitish mold and green sludge! :(

alisha145 (author)Mand0o2013-06-22

Hi Mandoo,

Sounds like you may have added just a little too much water. I like to open my bottle for a few seconds every day just to refresh the air inside and make sure it there isn't tooooo much moisture because that definitely can happen. I left one alone for a good two weeks without touching it and that one did develop a little fungus too since there was too much water.

Hope this helps!


Mand0o (author)2013-06-19


bginlalaland (author)2013-06-11

So cute and I love your writing style : )

alisha145 (author)bginlalaland2013-06-15

Thank you! Glad you enjoy it :)

rhoddity (author)2013-06-09

Favorited and voted! This is wonderful! I want to make several of these to keep on my window sill by my bed! =D

alisha145 (author)rhoddity2013-06-10

Thanks Rhoddity!

They are so pleasant to keep on windowsills. The 4 we made sit nicely in a little group in the shop window :)
It would be neat to have a collection of different shapes and sizes- Especially round ones mixed with square ones and even the ones that look like tiny greenhouses :D:D:D


rhoddity (author)alisha1452013-06-10

I bet! You own your own shop? =D What's it look like, if you don't mind me asking?

Would larger containers be able to get all the water where it needed to be? =. If so, I've got a nice little "potion" bottle I could use! But then, would normal glass jars work, too? =)

alisha145 (author)rhoddity2013-06-11

I'm the shop owner's assistant. I basically photograph everything, meet new people and spread good cheer :) As long as there are smaller pebbles or beads with holes at the bottom, the bottle will have a place to drain excess water. Are you thinking of glass mason jars with lids? I don't see why that wouldn't work! Give it a try!


Skye2171 (author)2013-06-10

I'm making a necklace :)

alisha145 (author)Skye21712013-06-10

Oh Great!!! I've seen some really cute ones made with Reindeer Moss. Send us a pic of what you made and we'll post it to our Facebook page!


dulciquilt (author)2013-06-09

alisha145 (author)dulciquilt2013-06-10

Hi Dulciquilt,

Very interesting article! Thanks for sharing :D I really like the shape of that bottle.
It's so huge though I wonder how he picked it up.


Suzanne in Orting (author)2013-06-09

My only comment about the seed beads is that I think I would wet them first since cheap beads can have a color liner, rather than the glass be colored and that might come off and look unsightly, and perhaps be botanically unhealthy.

Other than that, I can't wait to show them to my favorite 5th grade teacher. I can see using this as both a science project and a Mother's Day gift. I wonder if there is a tiny plant that would flower....Gardeners? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Suzanne in Orting, WA

Bueller? Bueller?

Lol, Hi Suzzane,

Thanks for checking it out and glad to hear you like it :) Good point about the coated beads. That would definitely be unhealthy for the plants and disappointing to find out after fully assembled.

We did this project with 4th graders and it was simple enough for them to do themselves {with guidance} but most importantly they learned how to work in steps and if they went out of order, their terrariums would not be successful.

I was hoping the chamomile would flower in the bottle but so far, just seedlings still.
How about Alyssum? That seems like it would flower in the smallest of places!

Try it out and let me know!


sitearm (author)2013-06-09

@alisha145; Hi! I've tweeted this and shared it with my teacher friends. Cheers! Site

alisha145 (author)sitearm2013-06-10


So glad ou enjoyed it! We did this project with a 4th grade class and they loved it.
There are so many great lessons involved, from breaking down the word
Terrarium { i.e., Terra= Earth, etc.} to teaching them to make funnels to pour the seeds through! Find more of our tutorials here:


HISsparrow (author)2013-06-09

These are just too cool! I am totally impressed. *smile* And I'm with Smileee2 on this. heheh Couple of questions, what size bottles did you use and could you poke a small hole in the cork for air without losing condensation? Oh, and what other seeds/plants would you recommend? Thanks a heap for sharing. I just have to try this! Voted! God bless

alisha145 (author)HISsparrow2013-06-10

Hi Ssparrow,

We used these bottles:

I would say the cork would be better without a hole in it because the magic of the terrarium lies within the bottle's ability to keep moisture contained. Every few days I do open the top for just a second to refresh the air, even though it probably doesn't need it. I always keep an eye on the soil too to see if it looks too wet or may be drying up at all. So far, so good!

I chose the chamomile seeds because I knew even if they grew bigger, they would be thin enough to grow out of the top of the bottle. Other plants that would work well in a terrarium are any kind of Mosses, Ferns, Succulents and Herbs. It all depends on what kind of aesthetic you are going for- large and leafy, small and minimal or wild and texture-rific.

Hope this helps!
Feel free to send us pics of what you made and we'll post it on our Facebook!


billbillt (author)2013-06-09

love this..very well written..

alisha145 (author)billbillt2013-06-10

Thank you Billbillt!


Klappstuhl (author)2013-06-09

I wonder if this works on a bigger scale with green onions... or tomatoes...

alisha145 (author)Klappstuhl2013-06-10

Hi Klappstuhl,

I would say try it! The only thing I can think of that might not work well though would
be when the fruit or vegetable ripens and falls off the vine or stem. It would fall into the dirt and since the bottle is closed or sealed, it would be trapped and decompose. I wouldn't think that would be healthy for the remainder of the plant :/
But def try it and let me know how it goes!


adamkenn (author)2013-06-09

These are so cute going to try with my little girl

alisha145 (author)adamkenn2013-06-10

Hi Adamkenn,

Glad you like it! I'm sure your daughter would love to watch her seedlings grow in
the little bottle :)


miss_van_cheshire (author)2013-06-09

great idea :D i really like this and want to try it as soon as possible :)

Glad you like it! :D


billbillt (author)2013-06-09

very cool !

muri9m9 (author)2013-06-08

Just to cool! I'm going to make one of these into a necklace!

alisha145 (author)muri9m92013-06-08

Hi Muri9m9,

You totally can! I would suggest using a smaller bottle, these might be a little cumbersome around your neck.


smileee2 (author)2013-06-07

This might be the only way I could keep a plant alive, lol. Thanks!

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