Plants for Bottle Gardens

Gardening in a bottle is an option for growing moisture-loving plants, which thrive in the microclimate you create. Choose slow-growing plants that will not outgrow the container too soon. Avoid cacti and succulents because they prefer dry climates.

Coral Bead Plant

The coral bead plant (Nertera granadensis) produces bright orange berries. The small plant is often used as ground cover and is a good contrast to the green foliage of other plants in a bottle garden. It grows well in porous soil.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is often sold as an aquarium plant or grown in water and rocks, but it grows best in soil. The yellowish-green or pale-green leaves look like ribbons and add interest to a bottle garden or terrarium. It grows slowly, so trim back if it starts getting too tall. Long thin tweezers and scissors can be used for trimming if the bottle has a small opening.

Dwarf Crested Soft Shield Fern

The bluish gray-green leaves of the dwarf crested soft-shield fern grow on divided fronds. The fronds grow upright, and can grow up to 12 inches, but in a contained environment, the fern grows more slowly and stays smaller. The evergreen fern grows well in the moist environment of a bottle garden.

Tillandsia Caput-Medusae

Caput-medusae is perennial bromeliad also called an "air plant" because it does not grow in soil. Put a small piece of driftwood in the glass bottle and attach the plant to the wood with glue to keep it in place. Caput-medusae has rosettes of pale green leaves. It produces slender spikes with tube-like blue flowers with red interior petals. The humidity of a bottle garden is ideal for the bromeliad.


Mosaic plant, or Fittonia, has large green leaves, accented with white or pink veins. The plant thrives in bottle gardens because it loves humidity. It also is short and grows close to the ground, making it suitable for a small space. Fittonia produces small white flowers.

Creeping Fig

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) grows much smaller than other varieties of the fig species. It is used mostly as ground cover, but grows well in a miniature garden setting. Its small, dark-green leaves grow on long, slender stems that can grow long if left unchecked. In a bottle garden, the vine will need to be cut back once a month to keep it from taking over the garden, so it's best to use these in a bottle garden that has an opening to allow trimming.

Keywords: miniature garden, dwarf fern, terrarium plants, bottle garden planting

About this Author

Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Florida. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Amarillo Globe-News, and eHow.