How to make a rainforest terrarium in a bottle

Would you like to bring a piece of nature into your home? Then a tropical rainforest terrarium in a bottle is just what you need! A rainforest terrarium is a mini ecosystem that you set up in a sealed container. It's a great and educational project that you can do alone or with kids. In this article we will show you step by step how to build your own rainforest terrarium in a bottle.

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What you need for your rainforest terrarium

For your rainforest terrarium in a bottle you will need the following materials:

  • A large plastic bottle (washed and dry)
  • Gravel
  • Activated carbon (from pet stores).
  • Potting soil
  • Tropical plants
  • Moss
  • (Optional) one toy animal
  • (Optional) a pair of scissors
  • (Optional) Adhesive tape

You can buy most materials at hardware stores, garden centers or online. Be sure to choose small tropical plants that take up little space and can tolerate high humidity. For example, ferns, palms, arrowroot or variegated nettle work well for your terrarium. The toy animal should match the rainforest theme, for example a monkey, frog or snake.

Making the rainforest terrarium

Step 1: Cut the bottle into two parts

Measure four centimeters (approximately 1.5 inches) from the bottom of the bottle and cut the bottle into two parts with scissors or a craft knife. The bottom part will be the planter and the top part will be the lid of the terrarium. Be careful not to cut yourself on the cut edge. If you want, you can skip this step, but then you will have to get all your materials and plants through the small opening. This is quite a challenge.

Step 2: Layer the drainage system in the lower part of the bottle

Add a layer of about two centimeters of pebbles to the bottom of the planter. This will ensure that excess water can drain under the roots. Then add a thin layer of activated charcoal. This will filter the water and keep the terrarium clean. Cover the activated charcoal with a layer of moss, which will prevent the soil from slipping through the pebbles. Alternatively, you can use some fly screen.

You can read more here: Why a false bottom is important for any closed terrarium

A false bottom in a closed terrarium
A false bottom in a closed terrarium

Step 3: Add potting soil over the drainage layer

Add enough potting soil to cover the drainage layer and create a level surface. The soil should end about half an inch below the edge of the planter. Gently press the soil down, but not too hard, as you may interfere with soil aeration.

Step 4: Plant the tropical plants and moss in the soil

Choose and arrange the plants and moss according to your taste. Make sure that you leave enough space between the plants and that you do not plant them too deep. You can combine different shapes, colors and heights to make your terrarium interesting. For example, you can put an orchid in the center, a fern at the edge and a cicely in between. Then add fresh moss to cover the soil and retain moisture.

Here you can find more ideas for plants: The Ultimate Guide to Terrarium Plants

Alternatively, you can also read about the most diverse types of moss: 11 Types of Moss for your Closed Terrarium

Making a closed terrarium
The plants are placed in a terrarium. Source: Karolina Grabowska at

Step 5 (optional): Add a toy animal to the terrarium

Choose a toy animal that would live in your rainforest terrarium. Place it in a spot where it is easily visible and not obscured by the plants. You can use more than one animal if you like. The toy animal will add life and charm to your terrarium and can be a little eye-catcher that you might not notice at first.

Step 6: Water the terrarium and close it with the upper part of the bottle

Lightly water the terrarium until the soil and plants are moist. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle if your soil is already moist. Press the upper part of the bottle onto the lower part and tape it down. Make sure that the bottle is tightly closed so that no water can evaporate.

Here you can find tips: How much water does a closed terrarium need?

Make a closed terrarium
A terrarium is watered Source:

Care and maintenance

Your rainforest terrarium is now ready and needs little care. Place it in a place where it will get indirect sunlight, but not too hot. Open the lid from time to time to let in fresh air if it is too humid at first. Cut back the plants if they get too big. Monitor your terrarium regularly and look for signs of problems such as mold, wilting or yellowing. If you notice problems, you can try adjusting the humidity or temperature or replacing the plants.

Additional information

Your rainforest terrarium is not only a beautiful decoration, but also a way to learn more about the rainforest. The rainforest is a habitat for many different plants and animals that can only be found there. It is also important for the earth's climate and air quality. Unfortunately, the rainforest is being destroyed more and more by deforestation, slash and burn, and agriculture. Therefore, it is important to protect and preserve the rainforest.

Here are some pictures or videos of real rainforests for you to look at:

You can also customize and design your terrarium to your taste. Here are some suggestions on how you can make your terrarium more individual:

  • Add a waterfall or pond to your terrarium. You can use a small pump or hose for this.
  • With a little ingenuity, you can also put a light source in your terrarium. You can use an LED lamp or a string of lights with a battery or run a cable through a small opening to the outside. This will give your terrarium a nice atmosphere and help the plants to grow.
  • Add stones or crystals to your terrarium. You can use natural stones or artificial stones. They look beautiful and can also influence the energy of your terrarium.
  • With a little more imagination, you can also turn your terrarium into a magical fairy or gnome garden by combining all three of the above ideas.


You did it! You have made your own tropical rainforest terrarium in a bottle. I hope you have a lot of fun with your terrarium and that it gives you pleasure for a long time.

If you would like to share your experience or questions with everyone, feel free to post a comment. Thanks for your attention and see you next time!

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