light bulb

Do you still have some incandescent light bulbs hanging around? Once they burn out, give them new life (or is it light?) by repurposing them into do-it-yourself terrariums.

Pretty miniature light bulb terrariums draw your eye to them. The small space…the industrial bulb juxtaposed next to the softer nature elements…everything about it creates one captivating structure.

Mini terrariums typically house water-saving succulents, pebbles and any additional accompaniments you like, such as decorative moss, rocks or teeny tiny faux mushrooms or toy animals. They look particularly lovely beside a windowsill garden or lined up on a shelf.

Ready to get started, you crafty do-it-yourselfer? Get your miniature globe going with these easy instructions.

What plants to use

Your terrarium needs sun-loving plants that don’t mind a dry environment. Succulents, like cacti and jade, will thrive. Also try aloe, burro’s tail, echeveria, haworthia, sedum or tillandsia.

If you close off your terrarium with a wine cork (shown above) or other plug, succulents won’t survive. You’ll need to use different plants that don’t mind serious humidity, like miniature ferns, fittonia or wintergreen.

How to make it

First, you need to remove the electrical innards of your light bulb. Read up on how to get rid of a light bulb’s guts in this tutorial.

Once you clean out your bulb, add a layer of pebbles or sand to it. You don’t need much. A few tablespoons will do. Grab some from your front yard (or your neighbor’s). A makeshift funnel will help with this part.

Many miniature terrarium guides disagree on whether or not you should add potting soil to your light bulb terrarium. Because it locks in moisture, potting soil can cause your terrarium to mold (not exactly the matter you were looking to grow). However, others suggest it. If you think your terrarium requires some soil for the particular plant you chose, add a layer of succulent-specific potting soil.

Now, the fun part! Use long tweezers to insert your mini plants. Add preserved moss and any other tiny knickknacks you like. It may take a bit of poking around with tweezers or a chopstick to get them positioned nicely.

Finally, perch your newly jazzed up light bulb on a napkin ring or bottle cap to keep it from rolling all over the place. You could also stick two silicone bumpers on your bulb to do the same trick.

Some TLC

Keep your terrarium in indirect sunlight. Too much sunlight can burn your delicate plants. Spritz the inside of your little globe with water every week or two. You can absolutely let the sand dry out between waterings. Be sure to drain any excess water. That’s it! Sit back and enjoy your work.

Tired of your terrarium?

Don’t worry! If you get tired of your terrarium, you can in fact recycle light bulbs. Like aluminum and glass, the materials in light bulbs are highly valued. Recycle your bulb at a retailer that offers a take-back program or at a hazardous waste facility.

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image: joshleo