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Repurposing an Old Coffee Jar into a Terrarium
Repurposing an Old Coffee Jar into a Terrarium

Repurposing an Old Coffee Jar into a Terrarium

Terrariums are like miniature gardens enclosed in glass, offering a convenient and charming way to bring a bit of nature indoors. The allure of these little ecosystems lies not only in their aesthetic appeal but also in the tranquility they bring to our often busy lives. 

Add a DIY element to this, and you have a fun and rewarding project that repurposes everyday items, like old coffee jars, into something beautifully functional.

Why Use an Old Coffee Jar?

coffee jar terrarium

An old coffee jar makes an excellent terrarium due to several of its inherent features. 

Firstly, its size is often ideal for housing a small collection of small plants. 

Secondly, the clear glass allows you to observe the growth and change of your mini ecosystem while letting the necessary light reach your plants. 

Finally, the lid can be used to create a closed environment that mimics the natural water cycle, ideal for creating high-humidity terrariums.

By upcycling a coffee jar into a terrarium, you’re engaging in sustainable practices that help reduce waste and promote a circular economy, adding another layer of satisfaction to your DIY endeavor.

Materials Needed for a Coffee Jar Terrarium

supplies needed to build a terrarium including tools

Creating a terrarium from an old coffee jar doesn’t require many materials and many of these you may already have on hand. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Coffee Jar
  • Small Stones or Pebbles
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Potting Soil
  • Tools (Long tweezers or chopsticks)

A spray bottle is also useful for watering your plants without over-saturating the soil.

Possible Plants For Your Coffee-Jar Terrarium

A coffee jar’s relatively small size and potential for high humidity makes it perfect for certain types of plants. Here are a few options:


up close photo of moss on a forest floor

There are various types of mosses that thrive in the humid environment of a closed coffee jar terrarium. They are easy to care for and make a great lush green carpet that covers the soil surface. Examples include sheet moss and cushion moss.


fern plant

Small ferns like the maidenhair fern or the button fern are excellent choices for a coffee jar terrarium due to their love for humid environments and their compact size.

Air Plants

Air Plant (Tillandsia Species) row of different plants

If you’d rather leave your coffee jar terrarium open, air plants such as Tillandsia would be a perfect fit. They don’t require soil and draw their needed nutrients from the air. Their unique shapes and forms can add a fascinating aesthetic to your terrarium.


succulents for terrariums

Another choice for an open coffee jar terrarium would be small succulents. They thrive in well-drained soil and don’t require much water. Some suitable options include haworthias and echeverias. Remember, succulents need plenty of light, so place your terrarium near a well-lit window but out of direct sunlight.


fittonia vein plant

Also known as nerve plant, fittonia adds a pop of color to your terrarium with its veined leaves in pink or white. It’s a low-growing plant that thrives in humid, low-light conditions, making it a suitable choice for a coffee jar terrarium.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Terrarium

Clean the Jar: Begin by thoroughly cleaning the coffee jar. This means washing it out with warm soapy water and drying it completely to ensure a sterile environment. Any lingering coffee smell can be removed by swishing a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water around the inside of the jar.

Create a Drainage Layer: Add a layer of small stones or pebbles at the bottom of the jar. Aim for a depth of around one inch. This serves as a drainage layer, providing a place for excess water to go, which prevents the plant roots from sitting in water and potentially rotting.

Add Activated Charcoal: On top of the stones, add a thin layer of activated charcoal (around half an inch). The activated charcoal helps to keep the water fresh and prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria, which can be especially crucial in a closed terrarium environment.

Add Potting Soil: Next, add a layer of potting soil. The thickness of this layer will depend on the size of your plants’ root systems. Aim for a depth that allows them to spread out comfortably. As a general rule, three to four inches is a good depth.

Plant Your Selection: Make small holes in the soil and gently place your plants in them, carefully firming the soil around the roots. Remember to consider how your plants will grow and spread, and leave sufficient space between them.

Decorate: This is where you can let your creativity shine. Add decorative items like miniature figurines, shells, or even a small piece of driftwood. These additions can really personalize your terrarium and make it truly unique.

Care for Your Terrarium: After setting up, give your terrarium a light watering. If your jar has a lid, now is the time to close it. The water cycle within your sealed jar will self-regulate, but keep an eye on it during the first few days and adjust as needed. Place the terrarium in a location that receives bright, indirect light, and enjoy watching your miniature ecosystem thrive!

In Conclusion…

Transforming an old coffee jar into a vibrant terrarium is not only a sustainable way to repurpose everyday household items, but it also allows you to cultivate your very own miniature ecosystem. 

By choosing suitable plants and providing them with the right care, your coffee jar terrarium can thrive and offer you a beautiful and serene slice of nature in your own home. 

So go ahead, breathe new life into that old coffee jar, and embark on this exciting indoor gardening adventure!