How to Make a Radiant Terrarium Lamp [DIY Guide]

A terrarium lamp is a wonderfully creative blend of art, nature, and good old-fashioned practicality.

Seriously, what better way to put your reading lamp to use than to feed your terrarium plants along with your mind?

Not to mention the fact that it’s surprisingly easy to create a DIY lamp terrarium for yourself.

In this guide, we’ll shine a light on the key supplies and methods you’ll need to transform a terrarium into a bright and beautiful piece of homeware.

Let’s shine!

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Terrarium Lamp 101: Things to Consider

Before we dive in headfirst, there are a few things we need to ensure for this project to work.

  • Safety stuff – This one’s a bit of a no-brainer… The light system (electric) and the closed terrarium (water) cannot come into contact. The light will be connected to the terrarium lid, not situated within the terrarium itself. 
  • Stability – It needs to be stable. If your lamp knocks over, your beautiful creation will be ruined (not to mention the whole electricity and water thing). So, we need to consider the weight of the piece and how securely the elements are attached to each other.
Closed terrarium lamp with fittonia and cream lampshade
This beautiful terrarium lamp by is steady and grounded.
  • Accessibility – The “self-sustaining terrarium” is a bit of a holy grail. While I’ve had terrariums that could eventually be left without interference, they’re most certainly going to need some tweaking initially. You need to be able to get to it relatively easily to remove dropped leaves or add the occasional spray of water.

So, with those things in mind, let’s look at what you’ll need…

Lamp & Terrarium Supplies – What You’ll Need

1 | Glass Container With a Wide Base

Ideally, choose a shorter piece with thicker glass over a taller flimsier piece. You’re adding the light fixtures to the top, so we want to keep the weight of the build low.

Cylinder glass terrarium with orchids, fern and moss
Cylindrical glassware like this will look great if you choose a circular lampshade.

TJ Maxx and Ikea are great places to search – you can often find big vases for super cheap. 

2 | Cork Lid

Of course, you’ll need a terrarium lid; for this build in particular, getting the right material is very important. 

For most of my terrariums, I choose acrylic lids over cork; they look like glass, so the aesthetic is cleaner. But, acrylic lids sit on top of the glass unsecured, and cork can both wedge in tightly and still be removed easily, making it the preferable choice for this project.

Terrarium with cork lid and materials laid out on table
When you have your glassware, measure the opening and grab a cork lid to fit. They’re really easy to get in whatever size you need.

Make sure it fits snugly and securely.

👉 Shop cork terrarium lids on Etsy.

3 | Bottle Lamp Kit

A bottle lamp kit is a logistical lifesaver.

It takes the terrarium lamp from a heavy-duty DIY challenge to an accessible project. And luckily, they’re reasonably cheap too!

As the name suggests, they’re specifically made for turning a bottle into a lamp, but with a little adapting, we can translate it to the terrarium scene. (Of course, you could always build a bottle terrarium too!)

Hands placing lamp fixture onto bottle
We’ll attach this to your terrarium lid instead of a bottle. (Image credit: ilikethatlamp on Etsy). 

👉 Shop bottle lamp kits on Etsy and Amazon.

Just be sure you get an electrical bottle lamp kit, not a torch wick one – they’re both sold as  “bottle lamp kits.”

4 | Appropriate Bulb

Many of the kits don’t come with a bulb, so if yours doesn’t, get yourself down to the store and grab one.

I highly recommend choosing a warm-toned bulb over a cool-toned bulb; this advice is completely unrelated to the project, but trust me, it’s better. 

5 | Lampshade of Your Liking

Make your terrarium lamp yours with your own lampshade. It’s a great opportunity to tie it into the room with appropriate colors and patterns.

That said, the terrarium is the main event, so more classic designs look great too. 

Purple begonia and lime green fern in terrarium
Why not choose a lampshade that matches the color of a terrarium plant you’re using to tie the look together? 

6 | Tools

You’re gonna need:

  • Drill
  • Glue-gun
  • Spray bottle
Spraying water into terrarium
A spray bottle is essential – it’s important to add water to your terrarium evenly and lightly. If your terrarium is overwatered, it’s hard to recover.
  • Any other terrarium tools you’d like (my must-haves are aquascaping tweezers and an angled paintbrush)

7 | Terrarium Materials

As with any terrarium build, a good quality substrate is a must and a drainage layer is highly recommended.

Sometimes I make my own terrarium substrate mix, but most often, I like to make my life easier and use a pre-made quality tropical mix. 

👉 This variation on the classic ABG mix by EZ Botanicals on Etsy is an ideal substrate choice.

For drainage, leca, aquarium gravel, or pebbles all work great.

8 | Terrarium Rock

This is the secret sauce of the recipe; there are two vital reasons you need a terrarium rock in your life:

  1. It is great for creating dynamic visuals. Not using hardscape in your terrarium is like wearing a cute outfit without accessorizing it.
  2. It will add weight to keep things bottom-heavy and stable.
Seiryu stone in terrarium with sloped substrate around
A nice – and heavy – pick is Seiryu stone. I like anchoring mine into the substrate to create an interesting landscape (and keep it secure). 

9 | Terrarium Plants

Last but not least…

It’s a good idea to choose hardy tropical plants and mosses for a build like this because it’s a lot trickier to say exactly how your terrarium will do.

Depending on the dimensions of your container, how often you have the light on, and the situation within the room, it can be more challenging to get the balance of light and heat spot on.

Better safe than sorry. Why not try Ficus pumila, Pothos, FittoniaSyngonium, or Pilea glauca

Ficus pumila in closed terrarium
Ficus pumila gets my vote for the hardiest terrarium plant. There’s no stopping it!

👉 Check out my full guide to the easiest, most forgiving terrarium plants.

How to Make a DIY Lamp Terrarium: Step by Step

I find it helpful to break this project into four sections:

  1. The lamp part.
  2. The connecting the lamp to the lid part.
  3. The terrarium part.
  4. The finishing touches.

And we’re going to do it in that order. Let’s go.

1 | The Lamp Part

First things first, get your bottle lamp kit and follow the assembly instructions. Honestly, they’ll be much more helpful than me here!

Bottle lamp fixture in hands
When it’s assembled, it should look similar to this. (Image credit: ilikethatlamp on Etsy).

The top bit is where you’ll fit the bulb and lampshade, and the bottom bit (called the adaptor) is made to fit the bottleneck. That’s the part we’ll be connecting to the terrarium lid.

2 | The Connecting Lamp to Lid Part

Start by making sure that your cork lid fits securely onto your glassware.

Then, grab a pencil and tape measure and mark the center to guide where you’re going to drill. 

Choose a “flat drill bit” or “spade drill bit” (same thing, different names – they’re made for drilling holes) around the same size as your adaptor but slightly smaller.

Flat drill bits 
It should look something like this. (Image credit: UNIQUEJEWELSHUB on Etsy).

You can always make the hole bigger, but you can’t make the hole smaller.

Drill the hole and check the fitting with the adaptor. Drill more/ with a different size drill bit if necessary. 

Once the adaptor fits nicely in the cork terrarium lid, grab your glue gun and secure it into place.

3 | The Terrarium Part

Phew! We’re back in my comfort zone! 😂

Now it’s time to create your masterpiece. Head to our full beginner’s guide for how to make a terrarium from the ground up (and how to take care of it when it’s finished too). 

Closed terrarium with syngonium and peperomia
In that post, Dan will walk you through every step of the process.

4 | The Finishing Touches

Pop your lid onto your terrarium, attach your bulb and lampshade, and plug it into the wall with all the pride of the village celebrity switching on the Christmas lights!

Closed terrarium lamp with white lampshade
Tada! (Image credit: RiverRocksTerrariums on Etsy).

Find the perfect place in your home to show it off forever. 

Light it Up!

I hope you adore your terrarium lamp. We’d love to see it – share it and tag us on Instagram (@terrariumtribe)!

If you’re already on the hunt for your next DIY masterpiece – why not try a hanging terrarium

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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Radiant Terrarium Lamp [DIY Guide]”

  1. Very nice, thank 🙏 you. Another thing you can do is add an LED plant light. A lot of them shine upwards, so I made a small wire frame, placed a round mirror facing down and placed it just inside the top lip of my lampshade. I can place it in any room with a timer to turn on the plant light. 🪴, Cassy

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