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Plants for Bottle Gardens

By Carmel Perez Snyder ; Updated September 21, 2017
Use moisture-loving plants, such as bromeliads, in a bottle garden.
Red bromeliad image by paolanogueras from Fotolia.com

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.

Ficus Pumila or 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.

Lucky Bamboo

The ribbon-like leaves of lucky bamboo add interest to a bottle garden.
lucky bamboo image by BlueMiniu from Fotolia.com

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, but 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

Choose dwarf ferns for a bottle garden.
fern in flower-pot image by pershing from Fotolia.com

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

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 your 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.

Fittonia or Mosaic Plant

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 ideal for a small space. Fittonia produces small white flowers.

Nertera Granadensis or Coral Bead Plant

Nertera granadensis is also called the coral bead plant because of the bright orange berries it produces. 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.


About the Author


Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Texas. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist and writer for more than 13 years. Her work has appeared in newspapers across the country, the AARP Bulletin and eHow Garden Guides.