DIY No Care Required Water Terrarium

March 13, 2020Allison Murray
Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

In my life I realize I have been called a lot of different kinds of lady that always features the word crazy before my obsession. My nephews called me a crazy craft lady and, in the eyes of the general public, I’m most definitely a crazy dog lady and a crazy cat lady. And now, just the other day my grandmother called me a “crazy plant lady”.

It went like this. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?!?” me: “I was out in the garden and my hands were covered in dirt.” “How many plants do you have now? This is getting crazy! When did you even get into this?” Well, I’ve got quite a few plants now and I’ve always liked to garden. I just haven’t always been great at keeping my plants alive. “You’ve turned into a crazy plant lady!”

She’s one to talk, by the way :) With the prettiest garden I’ve ever seen my grandmother was constantly working out in the yard. And when we would drive around town she’d stop and knock on people’s doors to ask if she could “take a piece” of their really pretty rosebush. Or she’d straight up tell people they needed to thin out their bulbs and, wouldn’t you just know it, she was offering her services in exchange for the bulbs that were thinned out :)

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

But back to the crazy plant lady thing…

I’ve really always loved gardening but I’ve not always had great results. So far, I’m pretty happy to say that I’ve kept all but one plant doing relatively well. Did you see all of my pretty plants? I wrote all about my non-toxic houseplants safe for cats and dogs here. Way back in 2014 I wanted a houseplant but had trouble keeping them because of my cats eating them. And so my very first water terrarium came to be and lived on my dresser for, I think 6 years. And in all of that time it looked just as it did the first day, it was amazing. And so today this crazy cat lady is making another gorgeous bottled water plant. Want info to make your own?

Caring for your Closed Water Terrarium

The care for your water plant is super simple. Firstly, don’t place in direct sunlight. Someplace with good, indirect light works best. Now this is the brilliant part about having a totally closed terrarium… besides dusting the darn thing on occasion, making sure it isn’t in direct sunlight is literally all you need to worry about! You don’t have to water anything because the cork keeps the water from evaporating. There isn’t any need to clean it because there’s no air circulating to introduce anything to get gross.

That’s it… don’t let it be in direct sunlight and enjoy! See, even a houseplant somebody with a totally black thumb couldn’t kill! :)

Supplies Needed to Make a Closed Water Terrarium:

This carafe with a cork stopper was purchased from IKEA.

The glass carafe:

For this terrarium you’ll need a glass vessel. I found my carafe with a cork stopper at IKEA where I paid$4.99 for it. (a steal!) I’ve also seen similar in store at Target for $9.99.  If using something different, a lid is imperative if you want this to be a closed water terrarium that you never have to clean. I prefer the look of the cork topper and know from experience that after some time the cork is incredibly difficult to remove. If you try something different and share it on Instagram tag us @dreamalittlebiggerblog! I’d love to see this done another way! :)

When looking at aquarium plants take not if you're buying an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant.

The plant:

Any pet store with a fish department should have a selection of living aquarium plants. When selecting the plant for your closed terrarium be sure to check if it is an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant. Aquatic plants need to be fully submerged and semi-aquatic needs to be only partially submerged to thrive. At some pet stores the plants will be clearly marked as aquatic or semi-aquatic. If not marked I’d strongly suggest asking an employee for guidance.

Because I know absolutely nothing about saltwater aquariums I am using a freshwater plant. To be honest, I’m not even sure if they had saltwater plants at the store I went to. Once I saw that adorable frilly top on my plant I was sold.

Putting together your water terrarium:

Carefully slide a handful of rocks along the side of the glass to the bottom.

Carefully slide a handful of rocks along the side of the glass to the bottom. Because this is glass don’t just chuck the rocks down in the bottom!

Continue sliding rocks into the jar over and around the plants roots to set it in place.

Continue sliding rocks into the jar over and around the plants roots to set it in place.

 Gently use a wooden skewer or a chopstick to push the foliage around so that you can slide rocks down into the bottom without hitting the plant's delicate foliage.

If needed, gently use a wooden skewer or a chopstick to push the foliage around so that you can slide rocks down into the bottom without hitting the plant’s delicate foliage.

Either partially or fully fill your carafe with purified water.

Depending on whether your plant is aquatic or semi-aquatic, either partially or fully fill your carafe with purified water. You can find purified water in both grocery stores and convenience stores.

Push your cork stopper into the carafe as tightly as you can.

Push your cork stopper into the carafe as tightly as you can by hand. Don’t smack it or hit it with a hammer, finger tight, as they say, is good enough.

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

Isn’t that just lovely?

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

And as a houseplant it totally plays well with others :) Doesn’t it look pretty next to my Burro’s Tail and my Purple Waffle Plant? It really is such a fun trio.

Ooh, and what I love specifically about this little Java Fern is how it looks different at different angles. Even when you’re not looking straight at my water terrarium it’s still a gorgeous sight. The curve of the carafe acts like a fish-eye lens or something and I just love walking by the book case it sits on.

Lovely, easy and unique. Not bad home decor for a few minute’s work!

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DIY No Care Water Terrarium

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!
20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Crafts
Cuisine: Gardening
Keyword: Closed Terrarium, Terrarium
Cost: 15

Equipment

Materials

  • Glass Carafe with Cork Stopper
  • Aquatic or Semi-Aquatic Aquarium Plant (we used a Java Fern)
  • Aquarium Gravel
  • Purified Water

Instructions

  • Carefully slide a handful of rocks along the side of the glass to the bottom of your glass carafe. Add the plant and then gently slide more rocks down the sides over the plant's roots. If needed, gently use a wooden skewer or a chopstick to push the foliage around so that you can slide rocks down into the bottom without hitting the plant's delicate foliage.
     Gently use a wooden skewer or a chopstick to push the foliage around so that you can slide rocks down into the bottom without hitting the plant's delicate foliage.
  • Either partially or fully fill your carafe with purified water depending on whether your plant is semi-aquatic or aquatic.
    Either partially or fully fill your carafe with purified water.
  • Push your cork stopper into the carafe as tightly as you can.
  • Don't place in direct sunlight. Someplace with good, indirect light works best. 
    Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

Notes

For more information regarding plant choices or to view the original post, please visit: https://www.dreamalittlebigger.com/post/easy-water-terrariums-bottled-water-plants.html

Even if you have a black thumb water terrarium in a glass bottle will thrive with absolutely no effort. See how to add this simple houseplant to your home!

The original version of this post, published on April 28, 2014, is available here.

Comments (29)

  • Teresa

    April 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    This is a great idea not only for those who have critters that destroy plants, but for those of us with purple “thumbs”!

  • Inga

    April 28, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    I love it! I wonder if you need to take the lid off occasionally for fresh air?

    1. Allison

      May 2, 2014 at 9:26 PM

      To be honest I’m having a hard time getting my lid off! But after about 5 weeks it looks like it doesn’t need to be opened but the next time I’m in Petsmart I’ll give them a shout and find out for sure :)

      1. Shawn

        April 19, 2015 at 10:25 PM

        I would assume that at some point the water will need to be replaced or replenished. While the gentleman who had the plant for 30+ years without watering was a non water based plant, this is different. The leaves which are sure to die off in time, will rot and murky up the water. You could add an aquatic creature perhaps to tidy up any rotting foliage like ghost shrimps?

        1. Allison Murray

          April 20, 2015 at 9:37 AM

          I don’t have any sort of creatures. Just straight up water plant.

  • Adrienne

    April 29, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    I love this idea! I’ve also wanted to make my own terrarium but was put off by the instructions – layer this type of soil, and that type of something, and Venusian pebbles and Martian top soil and inter-species something else. This is a great alternative. I’ve got some big jars hanging around the house that I haven’t known what to do with them. Well, today I do! Thanks!

  • Charlene

    April 29, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    I am going to try this using a large Mason jar or maybe an old “definitely cleaned and aired out completely” pickle jar. (I buy them by the 1/2 gallon) I can so see one of these on the island in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sasha

    May 1, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    So creative! My mom has a terrible time with her cat and keeping her away from plants so I’m going to send this her way!

  • Lois Weathers

    May 2, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Think you for your helpful experience with your water terrarium. I have been wanting to make one, now seeing yours I will make my own. Yours is so easy to look at and southing in thought. Think you again for sharing.

  • Ivy

    November 8, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Does the temperature of the water matter? The PetSmart website has temperature recommendations for a lot of their plants, including the anubias ones, and I’m worried about it. Thank you!

    1. Allison Murray

      November 12, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      To be honest I’ve not messed with the temperature at all. I just keep it on my dresser and it stays the temperature it is inside. The guy swore I couldn’t kill it, and so far he’s right!

  • Alice

    November 25, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    What a great idea. I’m going to make a bunch of these for Christmas and birthday presents. Most of my friends like the idea of having plants in their houses, but don’t have the time to take care of them. This idea, plus the terrariums I’m making for few people I know with green thumbs, will make for easy gifts.
    Thanks,

  • Kat

    March 18, 2015 at 12:10 AM

    Do I have to use distilled water? What if I use tap water that has been filtered for drinking? Will that have an affect on the success of the plant surviving?

    1. Allison Murray

      March 18, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      I was told that the chlorine they put in “city water” can be damaging to the plants. And if you can’t tell, I have well water :) Distilled water is super cheap, like less than a buck for a gallon and you can drink what you don’t put in your new terrarium!

      1. ayaa

        July 2, 2015 at 9:04 PM

        Replying a bit late, but as a note, if you leave tapwater out for a day or so, the chlorine evaporates.

        1. Allison Murray

          July 3, 2015 at 7:08 AM

          Awesome! That’s a great point. I’m on well water and always forget city water has chemicals in it. Thanks for the tip!

  • Shawn

    April 19, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Greetings! Curious if you could post an updated picture since it’s coming up on a year since this was originally posted. Pretty please? I would love to see how it turned out. Any difficulties? Still growing? Any need to replenish water?

    LOVE THIS IDEA!!!

    1. Allison Murray

      April 20, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      Hey, Shawn! It actually is doing GREAT! I’ve not pulled that cork off even once since I put my water terrarium together a year ago! It’s on there pretty dang solid. It’s pretty awesome because it is so low maintenance. It’s one of my favorite things in the house so you can actually see it in a lot of my posts in the background of shots of my finished crafts! My cat decided to pose with it while I snapped some pics on my phone (the reason for the less than stellar quality!)

      001-marla-water-terrarium 002-marla-water-terrarium

      1. Jay Phillips

        August 2, 2018 at 2:15 AM

        Any updates? I want to try this, but I’m worried that the water will get gross. I’m wondering how the plant is doing 4 years later?

        1. Allison Murray

          August 14, 2018 at 1:41 PM

          I had an issue with mine when I made a big move and it didn’t last forever but I’m super confident that if it had remained air-tight it would have had no growth inside :)

  • tahereh taheri

    May 12, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    hello . i am iranian. i dont english . but i love learn terrioum .

  • Tera

    July 15, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    I have cancer.
    “Sad,” (you may say) “But WHAT does that have to do with water terrariums!?”
    Surprisingly, a fair bit. Because of my cancer, and my treatments, I have an extremely weak immune system. Stay with me now, it will all make sense momentarily. To be allowed to receive treatment at home (where everyone heals better), I had to make a lot of changes. One of the hardest (next only to having to rehome my turtles because of their substrate) was having to get rid of ALL of my plants. You see, bacteria grows in the soil. I also cannot receive cut flowers (bacteria in the standing water). Nor could I keep my fish. I remembered my school project of making a sealed self contained aquatic eco system, and decided to have my husband make some for me (with colourful guppies and beta – in separate containers). But for some reason, I had not thought to do the same for water plants! I am so happy to have found this post!!! Just thinking of the possibilities (add food colouring to the water, hang some, put water lillies in some) has me so excited! It will be lovely to have more green in the house again! Thank you.

    1. Allison Murray

      July 15, 2015 at 8:13 AM

      That’s so wonderful, Tera! I hope your new terrariums brighten up your home because being happy in your space surely is good for healing, too. Best of luck on your journey back to good health!

  • Kelly

    January 3, 2016 at 2:43 AM

    I love this idea, I’ve been searching for a way to do this due to me being a little too generous with water for plants and drowning them, and this seems like the best and easiest! Just a few questions, does it need to be closed? I’ve got some beautiful glass vases that I’d like to do this in, but would hate to have to cover the top. Also how does the lighting work? Most of the aquarium plants use the lights that are there for the fish, did you not need to put it in the sun occasionally? Cause I love the low maintenance but those LED light can be expensive!

    1. Allison Murray

      January 3, 2016 at 8:41 AM

      Hi! My plant is, sadly, no longer with me as it broke in the move BUT that baby lasted up until October of this year with absolutely no change, except the plant grew a weensy bit bigger! With an open container you’ll definitely need to add water as needed but I don’t know if you’ll need to change it or not. When my glass cracked I tried to keep it but this green algae started to take over so I’m assuming the open air might cause you to clean just like you would an aquarium, though probably considerably less. If it is open, you could have a sweet little gold fish swimming around or a betta fish in there, though :)

      As far as light goes I kept it on my dresser that got about 2-3 hours of afternoon sunlight a day and that worked just fine. It did okay for a spell in a little bathroom where the blind was constantly open and very bright and it even did well after being packed up for about a week (until the crack darn it!) I have found that the type of plant I got was VERY forgiving :) Good luck and send pics of your plants if you think of it!

  • Aislynn Skala

    July 14, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    What is the plant behind it in the last picture and how did you achieve that? I’m just getting into the water culture plants

    1. Allison Murray

      July 14, 2016 at 7:00 PM

      The pink/purple flowers behind are actually branches off of a redbud tree. Not a water plant but gorgeous all the same :)

  • Carla

    March 7, 2017 at 6:31 AM

    Thank you so much! I just bought some decorative terrarium bc I wanted to do something like this…it never occurred to me to check petsmart for the plants…lol..duh me…anyway this was a great help!

  • Dee | Grammy’s Grid

    March 15, 2020 at 10:03 AM

    Looks cute, might work for me as I have a brown thumb!! Pinned :)

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