DIY Memories in a Bottle: Building a Wine Bottle Terrarium

Wine-terrarium-176x300 in DIY Memories in a Bottle: Building a Wine Bottle Terrarium and gardeningtips

In many situations, when the party is over, the last thought on anybody’s mind is what to do with the wine bottles.  Some individuals will simply move the old trash can near the mess and load it up with the remnants of the party.  Other individuals will pull the recycling bin over to the party area and sort the “trash” into recyclables and non-recyclables.  But for those of us that want more bang for our discarded items a wine bottle terrarium is in order.

This project can be a simple family-night activity or can be taken up a notch and used to celebrate a special occasion.  Bottles that are discarded from weddings or anniversaries can be saved and turned into living memories.  These memories can be documented by simply leaving the label on the bottle.

The steps for this project are easy and very open-ended, which flings the door open to creativity. The supplies needed to complete one wine bottle terrarium are below.


1 clear wine bottle

Dish soap


Small bag of coarse sand

Activated charcoal

Leaf mold

Small bag of all-purpose potting soil

Sphagnum moss


1 small, long handled paintbrush

Small plants of choice such as ivy (Hedera helix), watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia), shamrocks (Oxalis deppei), club moss (Lycopodium clavatum), and artillery plant (Pilea microphylla)

New cork if needed


  1. Wash wine bottle in warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.  Turn upside down and dry completely.
  2. Place funnel in the top of the bottle and fill the wine bottle with 1-inch of coarse sand.
  3. Top the coarse sand with ¼-inch of activated charcoal.  This charcoal can be found at the home improvement center or pet store.
  4. In a bucket place 1 part coarse sand, 1 part, leaf mold, and 2 parts all-purpose potting soil.
  5. Tear apart some sphagnum moss and push through the top of the bottle with the green side up.  Arrange the layer in the bottle using chopsticks.
  6. Fill the wine bottle with 1-inch of this DIY soil mixture.
  7. Remove plants from pots and loosen root mass.
  8. Using the paintbrush, dig a hole where the plant will be placed.
  9. Guide plant into hole using chopsticks.  Once in the hole cover roots with soil using the paintbrush.
  10. Continue with this process until all plants are planted.
  11. Gently tap the bottle on a hard surface to settle the soil.  Reexamine the plants and move any soil to areas where roots are exposed.
  12. Add 1 tablespoon at a time until the soil becomes moist but not sopping wet.
  13. Place the cork or the top or add a decorative touch with a wine bottle topper.
  14. Place on a north-facing windowsill in a room kept between 65 and 85 degrees F.

The longevity of this project depends on the type of plants used in the terrarium.  But in general, the wine bottle terrarium can last one year before it needs to be replanted.  Also there is not additional watering of this terrarium if the cork is put on tight.

Additional embellishments can be added to the bottle to add character and personal charm.  These embellishments can include copper wire strung with beads, a painted finish or glass etching on the neck of the bottle, and even a decorative stand that is used to hold a wine bottle.

Wine bottle terrariums are a creative and stylish way of repurposing those old wine bottles that fill the recycling bin. The only limit to this project is your own imagination, and time. But remember that this terrarium is simply a microclimate of the world around you and can be as simple or as complex as you would like it.  So enjoy your own fantasy world in a bottle.


Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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