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An easy-to-make terrarium brings the outside in

An empty jelly jar makes a perfect container for tiny succulents.

This terrarium is an easy and fun way to upcycle an empty jelly jar or other large glass jar. (Kris Coronado)

Want to add a splash of green inside your home? Give a jelly jar a makeover by transforming it into an open terrarium for small succulent plants. Although a jar of strawberry preserves is used here, most glass jars 16 ounces or larger should work. You’ll soon start eyeing empty containers of salsa, olives and spaghetti sauce quite differently.

Adult’s help: Some

Hands-on time:
15 minutes

Overall time:
45 minutes


• empty 16 ounce (or larger) jelly jar

• dish soap

• scrubber sponge

• dish towel

• bucket

• 8 ounces of white vinegar

• half a cup of pebbles (each no bigger than a dime), rinsed and dried

• cereal spoon

• potting soil

• “hens and chicks” (sempervivum) succulent plant (available at garden centers, home improvement stores)

• a few small sticks or twigs, no longer than 2 inches

• measuring cup

• spray bottle filled with water at room temperature


Step 1: Remove the lid and wash the jelly jar with warm water and dish soap in the kitchen sink, using the sponge if needed. Peel off as much of the jar’s label as you can with your fingers, scrub with the sponge, then set aside. (You will probably have adhesive left on the jar. If not, dry the jar with the dish towel and go to Step 5.)

Step 2: Place the bucket in the sink. Squeeze a few squirts of dish soap into it, then measure and pour in the white vinegar.

Step 3: Place the jar, on its side, in the bucket. Then fill the bucket with hot water until the jar is covered by the soap, water and vinegar mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Remove the jar and scrub off any remaining bits of label and residue with the sponge. Rinse the bottle inside and out with warm water, then dry with the dish towel.

Step 5: Place the jar on its side on a table and hold in place with one hand while filling the bottom with most of the pebbles, until they’re about one inch high. Save a few interesting ones for decoration later.

Step 6: Use the spoon to scoop potting soil on top of the rock layer, about one inch high, until the jar looks almost half full.

Step 7: Loosen the roots of three small (about one-inch-wide) succulent rosettes from their potting container with your fingers before gently lifting them out. Carefully press each into the soil inside your jar. (You can use the spoon’s handle to carefully scoot one toward the end of the jar, and then push it down.)

Step 8: Add a few pebbles and twigs to decorate the top of your miniature garden, using the spoon handle to move things around if needed.

Step 9: Use the spray bottle to squirt a small amount of water inside the jar. Display it in a safe spot indoors with plenty of sunlight. Water with the spray bottle as needed when soil has dried completely (about once or twice a week).

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