Stop Killing Indoor Plants (Create a Self-Sustaining Ecosphere Instead)

As much as I try to keep my houseplants alive , I am not a natural plant mom. If you are just as incompetent, but still want to keep a piece of nature in your home, let me introduce you: a magnificent ecosphere.

Your days of science fair may be long gone, but as shown Tag #ecosphere on TikTok, these small self-contained worlds can be a great alternative to the care of potted plants. Aside from their visual appeal, the biggest benefit of creating your own ecosphere is that it supports itself. Once you seal it, you don’t have to worry about mess or maintenance. Throw in a few tiny creatures (read: snails!) That like to keep themselves apart, and you’ve level-up your houseplant game at no extra cost to you.

There are many ecospheres that you can purchase off the shelf, but below we introduce you to a simple manual method of using materials from your local environment. So get a few kids (preferably your own) or go on a solo science adventure, creating an ecosphere for your home today.

What is the ecosphere?

The ecosphere is, in fact, a closed ecological system (like the Earth), but on a much smaller scale. For our purposes, this is a self-contained, self-sustaining mini-world that you can keep in a jar on your desk.

You can learn how they work here , but all you need to know is that when properly set up, the native plants, sediments and animals of the ecosphere provide everything the environment needs to survive. They don’t need feeding, filtration, or anything other than sunlight, and they can last for several years.

Ecospheres are also in vogue. Throughout the year, I’ve received targeted ads for closed ecosystems that you can buy and ship directly to your home, but personally I’m more interested in the DIY sense of accomplishment – creating your own. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed aesthetic, there is no shortage of ecospheres for online shopping (especially on sites like Etsy).

(Quick) Guide to Creating Your Own Ecosphere

To create the best ecosphere possible, I recommend referring to video examples (like this one ) or detailed blog posts ( like this one ) for step-by-step tips. For now, here’s a quick overview of what’s in store for us.

What do you need

Building your own ecosphere is relatively cheap and easy. Once you find a natural source of water near your home, you will need other materials.

  • Transparent sealed container. Masonry jars, empty glass bottles, or even Christmas decorations are popular choices. You want to be able to observe life within your ecosphere, so choosing the right container is an important first step.
  • A large bowl, spoon, or ladle for pouring water into a clear container.
  • A suction device like turkey to collect organic material for your ecosystem.
  • A small net for collecting small creatures such as snails (optional, but highly recommended).

What will you do

  • Visit a local creek, stream, or vegetation pond. Think of creating your ecosphere as a slice of an already thriving environment. You need to collect materials that already exist together, so get everything from one place.
  • Add water, sediment, and soil to the container.
  • Add some plants from the water source to the container.
  • Go hunting small snails or small crustaceans (they can hide in the water under leaves).
  • Close it up and plant your ecosphere in a sunny location.
  • Sit back and watch life bloom right in front of your eyes.

Recent reminders

Your ecosphere will be very cloudy at first, but after a couple of days it will subside. Algae tend to grow and take root in soil and added rocks, but keep in mind that larger animals and insects will not survive in a closed ecosystem like this. Finally, all your ecosphere needs outside the jar is some sunlight, preferably indirect sunlight.


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