Self-sustaining Terrarium


I love the idea of fresh green plants in my home but they need so much care! What happens when I’m busy and cannot look after it and can’t water it! Luckily and like always, I found a solution. What did I do? Let’s find out!

We keep all sorts of plants in my house. Herbs, decorative plants, cacti, young growing plants … all sorts! But normally, I’ll have something or the other to do and I’ll forget to water the plant by the end of the day it looks dead!  Eventually, just trying to maintain a plant is annoying! Yet, they make the house look so beautiful! I really want to have some around the house but how can I maintain it? It’s just in my nature to be busy! ( Sorry… bad pun! Nature, haha!)

One day, I was reading a science topic my mum gave me and it was about ecosystems. Suddenly, I had an idea. An ecosystem can survive by itself, right? So, there must certainly be some way to shrink one! I researched up mini-ecosystems and ecosystems in a bottle and found that it is a real thing! A terrarium!

A terrarium is a complete mini-ecosystem if given the right conditions. And I found a super cool fact too! The word ‘terra’ means earth in Ancient Greek. So a terrarium is a mini-earth! But first, before we understand terrariums, let us set up one!

Setting up a terrarium

I have set up this easy terrarium a month ago with some simple stuff I have at home. I had to prove it will survive.

This Ecosystem needs

how to set up a terrarium

A large soda bottle

 a cup of small pebbles (I have used an old teacup to measure)

a cup of pistachio shells

2 cups of potting soil

Some small herbs and easy growing plants

to set this up we will also need scissors, some water and any small pot ornaments if you like

Start with cutting the bottle about 3-4 inches from the base. save the top potion to use as a cover. 

Take the base and layer the pebbles followed by the pistachio shells.  the pack in a layer of potting soil and plant the herbs, or small plants. Now add a bit more soil to hold the plants in place. Add some decorations or moss if you like on top.  Make a small cut along the side of the base so it bends and allows the top to rest easily. Water the set up and cover with the top part. leave this at a place where it will receive indirect sunlight and leave it alone. 


The plants will grow and root and form a recycling system.

How does the terrarium maintain itself?

Essentially, a terrarium is a mini enclosed garden. Here is how I planned to make mine (source)

For most plants, water and air are the two main requirements. in this terrarium, the water that we provide initially will be available for the plants and then they will evaporate and transpire from the plants. This water vapour will condense and form water again. So the water cycle can be maintained. The plant to grow will absorb carbon dioxide from the air, use it for photosynthesis ( make food) and then release oxygen. It can utilize this same oxygen to breathe as well ( yes plants are living and need to breathe) With the water and air along with indirect sunlight the plant will be able to survive in this bottle. Since it can use this and repeat this over and over again it will be an ecosystem.

It really doesn’t matter what bottle you use as long as you get them set up right it should survive. I am planning to make a few more to go around my house. It is so cool that I don’t have to bother watering them, yet have the green around.( Source)

If you like my experiments around the house try these too

All those sciency cabbages!!!

Marbled chocolate oobleck

or Egg-cellent Egg-periments

Do let me know if your terrarium was a success. It might be a great gift for the teacher’s table too. Let me know what you think. See you later.






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3 years ago

Hello! I never intended to make a terrarium but I did make one, thanks to your article here! It came out looking really beautiful, like a miniature forest! Luckily, I found some moss too :).
You guys have a pretty good website here. Keep up the good work!

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