Even I can grow plants!

by Deb on March 11, 2011


At least I got them to sprout quickly, and given my completely black thumb this is an achievement.

If you’re about the same vintage I am you’ll remember that when plastic cool drink bottles came out they used to have a plastic cap on the base.  With a bit of patience you could work it off, flip the rest of the bottle upside down, cut off the spout and put it together to make a terrarium.  It takes a little bit more fiddling now, but it can still be done.



Bottle, seeds and scissors

  • Large plastic bottle
  • Scissors
  • Heavy duty tape, duct tape aka MacGuyver tape works well.
  • Soil or potting mix
  • Seeds
  • Water


  1. cutting

    Cut the bottom off the bottle. We used a stanley trimmer to get it started. This is actually the hardest step.

  2. soil

    Fill the bottom with soil or potting mix.

  3. seeds

    Plant your seeds following the directions.

  4. watering

    Water but don't soak them - remember there is no drainage in a terrarium and you don't want them getting soggy!

  5. terrarium

    Carefully tape the top of the bottle back on and put it in a nice sunny place.

What Happens

After a while you’ll get lots of condensation around the top of the bottle. You’ve created a miniature version of the water cycle by stopping the water escaping.  The girls have been fascinated by this and the big girl understood it pretty well.


The water gathers on the top of the bottle and runs down.

And after a few days, we got little shoots!  Given my usual gardening success this is very exciting.


One of the seeds sprouting. It's difficult to take photos through water covered plastic.

There is actually a large sprout in there, but that’s just a random seed from the soil.  Which would be an interesting experiment – what plants would sprout from your garden? We have all sorts of things blowing around here.

Ironically, I think the terrarium has actually been dryer than the rest of the garden.  The main use of the bottle has been to stop everything being washed away.  It would work really well somewhere sunny indoors, and be good for starting seedlings that need a bit of cosseting as well as for people like me – a sealed system I don’t touch is definitely my way of growing plants!  Plus it’s nice for kids to see the whole growing process and how the water cycles around without having to put too much effort into keeping them alive.  I know there are times when that effort is the point, but sometimes it’s fun to just watch.

This is well within the capabilities of a preschooler, and even the toddler did the planting.  Have a go 🙂

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

cathy@nurturestore March 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Great idea – I think it’s so exciting for children (and grownups !!) to see the first signs of their seed sprouting. Thanks for sharing this project with our Play Academy. Did you see we’re running a Sunflower Challenge too? http://nurturestore.co.uk/sunflower-club


Glowless March 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Very cool! I remember doing these at school but at home we never did anything so fancy – just cotton wool and the end of a carrot sitting on the window sill!


Marita March 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

That does look like fun. Most of our sensory garden died and I’m thinking of giving straw bale gardening a try. Might be able to get our plants started in terrariums, which the girls would really enjoy.
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Kelly B March 17, 2011 at 7:43 am

I’m a SHOCKING gardner. But I have felt challenged lately to do at least something gardeny with the kids. This might be just the thing!
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