Weekend Project: Herb Terrariums

Early in our apartment hunting, we saw a first floor apartment. One of the perks was a backyard: it was messy, but nothing that a few good weekends of elbow grease couldn’t take care of. We didn’t end up applying for that space, but for the first few hours after we’d seen it, my head was filled with exciting things to do with our backyard. A vegetable garden, a picnic table, barbeques with friends every weekend!

I don’t have a backyard in my new place, but I do have a fair amount of windows and natural sunlight (you know you live in New York City when those are things you can’t take for granted). I also had two small fishbowls that weren’t being used, so I figured it was a good time to get some plants into our space.

Full disclosure: the fishbowls never purchased for fish. The beau and I had a brilliant idea several years back to make large quantities of sangria and frozen margaritas for ourselves. We did this a few times, and then got bored. Hence the pair of empty fishbowls collecting dust until they were unearthed again during our move.

Fishbowls? Check. A love of fresh herbs? Check. A trip to Lowe’s in the schedule for Saturday anyway? Check. It was time to make some herb terrariums.

I did some research first to make sure that I could plant herbs in vessels that didn’t drain, and found this helpful article on  Feels Like Home. I figured it was going to be pretty easy, and I was right. After getting the proper supplies at Lowe’s (and regretting my impulse somewhat as we trudged home with other heavy things as well as my potting soil), I went to work.


Supplies, assemble!


  • Fishbowls (or something else to plant in)
  • Potting soil
  • River rocks (the soil needs to be elevated so that it can drain properly into the rocks)
  • Coffee filters (or mesh, pantyhose, or something else to prevent the soil from spilling into the rocks)
  • Herbs (I chose basil, oregano, parsley and rosemary)

Step 1: Put a few inches of rocks into the bottom of your bowls.

Step 2: Lay out one coffee filter in each direction to create a buffer between the rocks and the to-be-added soil. Another porous material would be fine as well, I just happened to have coffee filters on hand. Yeah, they’re a little ugly, but you can’t really see them after everything is done.

Coffee filters are amazing.

Coffee filters are amazing.

Step 3: Add a few inches of soil, making sure you get all the way to the edges (you can shake gently from side to side to even things out).

Step 4: Add your seeds, spacing out as evenly as possible. For my fishbowl openings, I didn’t go too far to the sides with the seeds, because I don’t want any saplings trapped on the edges.

Step 5: Fill with another 1/2 inch of dirt, then water.

Step 6: Wait around a few weeks, and if you are lucky, you’ll get fresh herbs.

Finished terrariums.

Finished terrariums.

See? Easy. I called this a weekend project but it’s really about a ten-minute project. Also, I clearly need to work on my photo taking skills, I’ve got three different lightings even though the pictures were taken in the exact same spot. Sigh.

Bonus photo: It was gorgeous out on Saturday (finally!). I took a photo of the iconic Kentile Floors sign on my walk to Lowe’s. Clear blue skies above, not a cloud to be seen, it put a big goshdarn smile on my face.



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