Do Try This At Home | Jamjar Terrariums

Bring a little bit of nature inside during lockdown - make a tiny garden in a jar.

Welcome back to Do Try This At Home - our series of super-fun weekly science activities.

Our building is closed right now, but that doesn't mean we can't do some science at home.


Richard age 28 asked us:


At home!

Who for


What do you reckon? If you put a plant or two in a jar, will they stay alive?

Let's find out!


You will need

  • A jar - big ones like sauce jars work well
  • Mud and plants - you can collect them from outside. More about this later
  • Some small stones
  • Plastic to separate the mud from the stones

Finding plants

So you've got a jamjar but where are you going to get plants from?

Plants grow everywhere! Have a look in your garden or in a park and you'll see plenty of tiny plants growing.

To collect my plants, I went to visit the blue plaque of the Bristol botanist Adolph Liepner, who set up the Bristol Botanic Gardens.

Here's a picture of some of the plants I chose.

Choosing your plants

If you are going to keep the lid on your terrarium like I did, then it will be quite humid in your terrarium.

Try and choose plants which like humidity:

  • plant with flowers won't survive in a jar with a lid
  • ferns, mosses and leafy plants are normally good choices
  • try and chose a mixture of plants

And don't forget to be considerate to others and nature:

  • only take what you need
  • don't take plants if you think someone has planted them
  • make sure you obey local laws about distancing, and don't stop if people need to get past


Add the small stones to the bottom of your jar. This is to give the plants drainage so their roots don't stay wet.

Use your jar to draw a circle onto the plastic. Cut the circle out.

Poke some holes through the plastic using a pin so the water can go through.

(Be careful and ask and adult for help if you need!)

Put the plastic circle into the jar above the stones.

Put some mud in your jar.

Make sure you have enough for the roots to grow. A couple of inches at least!

It helps to add a bit of water now so the soil is just moist.

Add your plants!

I used the end of a paintbrush to poke my plants into the soil.

You might need to add a bit more water, but don't add too much. Plants aren't good swimmers.

What's next?

After a few days, check back on your plants. Are any looking healthier than others?

You shouldn't need to add any more water if you keep the lid on.

What do you think about Richard's question?

"Can you grow a plant in a sealed environment indefinitely?"


Share your Creation

I hope you enjoy looking at your terrarium.

I'd love to see some examples. If you like, you can share your photos with us on:

facebook | twitter | instagram

And if you enjoyed making a terrarium, why not try the others in this series?


Top image credit: Lisa Whiting


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