Garden In A Bottle: Growing Soda Bottle Terrariums & Planters With Kids

Image by Giles Williams

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Making terrariums and planters from soda bottles is a fun, hands-on project that introduces kids to the joy of gardening. Gather a few simple materials and a couple of small plants and you’ll have a complete garden in a bottle in less than an hour. Even young children can make a pop bottle terrarium or planter with a little adult assistance.

Making Terrariums from Soda Bottles

Creating a pop bottle terrarium is easy. To make a garden in a bottle, wash and dry a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. Draw a line around the bottle about 6 to 8 inches from the bottom, then cut the bottle with a pair of sharp scissors. Set the top of the bottle aside for later.

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Place a 1- to 2-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom of the bottle, then sprinkle a small handful of charcoal over the pebbles. Use the type of charcoal you can buy at aquarium shops. Charcoal isn’t absolutely required, but it will keep the pop bottle terrarium smelling clean and fresh.

Top the charcoal with a thin layer of sphagnum moss, then add enough potting mix to fill the bottle up to about one inch from the top. Use a good quality potting mix – not garden soil.

Your soda bottle terrarium is now ready to plant. When you’re finished planting, slide the top of the bottle over the bottom. You may have to squeeze the bottom so the top will fit.

Soda Bottle Terrarium Plants

Soda bottles are large enough to hold one or two tiny plants. Select plants that tolerate moist, humid environments.

To make an interesting pop bottle terrarium, choose plants of difference sizes and textures. For example, plant a small, low-growing plant like moss or pearlwort, then add a plant such as angel’s tears, button fern or African violet.

Other plants that do well in a pop bottle terrarium include:

Terrarium plants grow fast. If the plants grow too large, move them to a regular pot and fill your pot bottle terrarium with new, tiny plants.

Soda Bottle Planters

If you’d rather go a different route, you can also create soda bottle planters. Simply cut a hole in the side of your clean pop bottle large enough for both soil and plants to fit in. Add some drainage hole in the opposite side. Fill the bottom with pebbles and top with potting soil. Add your desired plants, which may include easy-care annuals like:

Soda Bottle Gardening Care

Soda bottle gardening isn’t difficult. Place the terrarium in semi-bright light. Water very sparingly to keep the soil slightly moist. Be careful not to overwater; plants in a soda bottle have very little drainage and will rot in soggy soil.

You can place the bottle planter on a tray in a well-lit location or add some holes on either side of the plant opening for easy hanging outdoors.

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