A bottle garden is a mini ecosystem that is trending at the moment. Plants are planted in closed jars or bottles and ideally form a so-called hermetosphere that is self-sustaining without any further action. This is the ideal case, and it may take time for the ecosystem to settle down. An important factor for a functioning system is the choice of plants.

bottle and substrate

The shape and size of the bottle and the substrate chosen depend on the species selected. Cacti and succulents need a nutrient-poor substrate, so you can plant them in a small bottle or tall glass. Mini orchids need a taller container and, in turn, a special substrate. This is also important to consider when combining different types of plants. Mosses and ferns complement each other very well, while bromeliads and orchids harmonize.

Tip: Mosses should always be a part of your bottle garden. They are perfect helpers to regulate the water balance and contribute to the formation of nutrients.

Create a bottle garden

One problem in the bottle garden is waterlogging. Once the water is in the bottle, it cannot be easily removed. It can take several weeks for the required amount of water to settle down, so a drainage layer at the bottom is essential. This consists of a substrate that can store water, such as expanded clay. The drainage layer should be at least 7 cm.

The substrate is then filled up. This layer should have a height of at least 5 and a maximum of 7 cm. Once the substrate has been filled in, the selected plants can be used in the mini garden. The plants should be positioned in such a way that the largest specimens are in the middle and smaller or slow-growing species are on the edge.

Tip: If the bottle opening is narrow, you should use a funnel to fill in the substrate. A wide-mouthed funnel is also helpful for planting, as you don’t have to tie the leaves together to get them through the narrow opening.

location and care

Theoretically, the bottle garden should eventually get by without any care at all, because the goal is a self-contained ecosystem that sustains itself. A big advantage is that the mini garden in the bottle does not have to be fertilized, because the normal decomposition processes in the container provide sufficient nutrients. However, it may take a long time before that happens. Proper care is therefore very important, especially in the first few weeks and months.

The right location is particularly important for the garden in a bottle. This should be bright but not in direct sunlight, which is why the bottle garden trend is also suitable for rooms that face north. Plants need sufficient sunlight to carry out photosynthesis. When the sun shines directly on the bottle, the glass can focus the light and acts like a magnifying glass, damaging the leaves.

A difficult issue is the ideal amount of water to put in the bottle. Water is an essential part of the material cycle, but too much can cause mold or putrefactive bacteria to form. You should approach the ideal amount of water carefully.

Note: There should be enough water in the bottle so that the glass is fogged up in the morning but clears again during the day.

Suitable plants

As a rule, small or weak-growing species are chosen for a bottle garden. However, if you have a very large bottle, you can certainly choose normal indoor plants. Basically, you should always prefer indoor plants and not just take wild plants from nature. This is especially true for mosses or ferns, because many of them are even protected. However, there is a large selection of suitable species on the market that you can use to create a bottle garden.

carnivorous plants

Carnivorous plants need a peat-rich substrate because they mainly grow in swampy regions. You should be particularly careful when repotting, because the carnivores do not appreciate it if their roots are injured. Although carnivorous species obtain some of their nutrients from the decomposition of insects or small animals, they can do without animal food if they have a suitable substrate.

Suitable types for the bottle:

  • Pinguicula vulgaris Fettkraut (Pinguicula vulgaris)
  • Intermediate sundew (Drosera intermedia)
  • Venusfliegenfalle (Dionaea muscipula)
  • Pitcher plant (Nepenthes) eg the variety Bloody Mary
  • Papageien-Schlauchpflanze (Sarracenia psittacina)
  • Sumpfkrug (Heliamphora chimantensis)

Succulents and cacti

If you want to create a particularly easy-care bottle garden, succulents and cacti are the ideal choice. The advantage is that they get by with little water, which means that the right amount can be found quickly. They also have a weak growth, but need a much brighter location than other species. However, due to the glass, they must not be placed in direct sunlight.

Types of cacti and succulents for the bottle garden:

  • Grusonia moelleri
  • Tephrocactus ovata
  • Wolfsmilch (Euphorbia) zB die Sorte Trigona
  • Living Stones (Lithops)


Bromeliads come from tropical or subtropical regions and need high humidity. They are also popular for planting in terrariums for exotic species. Contrary to many commercially available bromeliads, they do need a substrate and also develop roots. A mixture of pine bark, fiber peat and some sand is ideal for them.

Suitable species for the mini garden:

  • Cryptanthus bivittatus
  • Neoregelia z.B. die Sorte White Stripes
  • Racinaea schumanniana
  • Catopsis nitida
  • Cryptanthus warren loosei
  • Cryptanthus bivittatus


If you want to create a bottle garden, don’t immediately think of ivy (Hedera helix) when planting. However, it is an ideal plant for the bottle garden, provided it is a slow-growing variety. However, compared to other species, ivy needs a very nutrient-rich substrate right from the start.

These varieties are suitable for the bottle:

  • Goldchild
  • Adam
  • Luzia


star moss

Except for a bottle with succulents and cacti, mosses should always be part of the bottle garden. They mainly support plants that need a humid climate. They also forgive if there is too much water in the bottle at the beginning.
Suitable mosses:

  • Torfmoose (Sphagnum)
  • Javamoos (Taxiphyllum barbieri)
  • Star Moss (Sagina subulata)

Make it

Ferns are among the few species that also tolerate a too humid climate to a limited extent. If you create the bottle garden, you should therefore also combine at least one fern with other species that require high humidity. Compared to many other plants, some ferns can even propagate in the bottle, provided you plant more than one specimen. Ferns are cross-pollinators and therefore need a second plant to be able to reproduce. The substrate for ferns should be nutritious and slightly acidic.

Suitable ferns for the bottle garden:

  • Aglaomorpha heraclea mini
  • Aglaomorpha meyeniana mini
  • Asplenum daucifolium
  • Davallia fejeensis


Orchids have been trendy for many years because they have beautiful exotic flowers and some are very easy to care for. With a little patience, they can be made to flower repeatedly, and some species are also suitable for bottle cultivation. However, if you are creating a mini bottle garden, you should not resort to the mini versions of the Phalaenopsis that are often offered, because they do not stay that small. These mini orchids are mostly young plants that have their first or second flower, but under good conditions they can quickly reach the same size as other Phalaenopsis varieties.

These orchids are suitable for the bottle garden:

  • Aerangis citrata
  • Aerangis rhodosticta
  • Ascocentrum
  • Haraella odorata

Bottle too small

Under optimal conditions, the bottle will eventually become too small, even for slow-growing plant species. In this case there are only two possibilities. You open the bottle and cut back the plants that have grown too big. However, this is a very tricky undertaking, because fungal spores can get in when the bottle is opened, which can then infect and damage the plants via the interfaces.

The second option is to relocate the mini garden to a larger bottle. However, this usually requires smashing the bottle if the opening is very small. When relocating to a new container, you should make sure that it is big enough so that you don’t have to transplant again in a few years.

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