Forest in a jar

Forest in a jar for beginners

Forest in a jar has recently become an interior design hit. Some compositions in florists arouse admiration while reaching dizzying prices. The idea itself is very simple, and properly made should be almost self-sufficient, only needing a little watering and airing.

In this post you will find instructions and tips on how to make a forest in a jar in a beginner version. For this purpose, I used a glass jar with a hole, so the plants are more like in a pot than in a closed jar. They do not require such a balanced composition and will forgive some errors.

I made 4 compositions referring to the seasons. Spring with violets, summer with succulents and shells, autumn with colorful plants and winter with poinsettia and holly.

Forest in a jar in 4 versions: spring, summer, autumn and winter

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  • Jar with a hole – I bought in the Polish online store, you should look for in one in your country
  • Substrate – it’s possible to buy a starter kit, again look in online store. Such sets have everything you need: drainage, activated carbon, soil, sands, gravel and rocks. I bought the XXL set and it was enough for 4 spheres. I have some gravel and rocks left.
  • Plants – I bought in all my plants at the DIY store, and more precisely at Obi (popular in Europe). Remember to combine plants with similar needs.
  • Spatula or spoon
  • Brush – very useful for cleaning plants and glass from the soil
Supplies for forest in a jar

Substrate preparation

To prepare the substrate in 4 spheres I used the following supplies from the starter kit:

  • 1 liter of drainage – volcanic lava
  • 1 kg of gravel
  • 50 g activated carbon
  • 3 liters of soil enriched with fertilizers

I had to take the initial step because I bought glass spheres. To make it stable, I cut a hole in a piece of sponge that came as a transport protection.

Begin with stabilizing the sphere


The drainage layer is important because there is no water leak in the glass jar. A permeable layer is made so that the roots do not stand in the water. For drainage, you can use popular expanded clay or volcanic lava, which apparently has better properties than expanded clay.

After spilling a layer of lava it seemed too little, so I added one more layer of drainage in the form of gravel.

What for activated carbon in the forest in a jar?

Activated carbon is another layer after drainage. I was bothered by the question what it is used for. Well, its task, as in all sorts of filters, is to absorb harmful chemicals (for more information, see Wikipedia). Especially in closed jars its function is extremely important. In the case of open vessels, it is not necessary, but I added some (a little more and more evenly than you can see in the picture).

Third layer out of active charcoal

The last layer is a soil mix. The layer must be at least equal to the height of the root ball of your plants. Prepare the holes for the plants.

The forth layer is the soil


It is important that all plants in one pot have similar requirements. I decided on 4 sets of plants:

  • Violets with ivy
  • Succulents
  • Ficus Benjamin and croton
  • Poinsettia with holly

When planting it’s better to start with the plants at the back. Some of my plants were too tall for my spheres, so I cut them so that they fit freely.

Planting in a jar
Planting in a jar


The final step is to add a layer of decorative gravel, rocks and reindeer lichen. You can read more about scratching on the Wikipedia .

I only used some lichen for my violet composition.

Forest in a jar or in a sphere

Summer beach composition

In winter, the beach aura seems very distant, but it is a good solution for those who forget about regular watering. To decorate the beach sphere I used white pebble, sand (everything was in the starter set) and shells that we collected on a beach during holidays.

Forest in a jar with rocks

It was supposed to be the autumn version, but it didn’t fully worked. Although colorful croton leaves are associated with Polish autumn. To decorate this sphere I used colorful river gravel and plum slate (everything was included in the starter kit).

Forest in a jar in winter edition

In the winter version I used poinsettias and holly. I planned to use a small cypress, but it turned out to be too high for my sphere. I decorated with white pebbles, pine cones and cinnamon bark.

This is the end, I hope that I encouraged you to make such a decoration yourself. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me via the post commentary or email at

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You can find more DIY decoration ideas in our decorations section.

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