The water plants in this beautiful indoor water garden are gorgeous! With fuzzy rosette leaves floating above the surface, and dark feathery roots showcased below the water, this is a new and fun way to showcase plants.
This indoor water garden is sure to get conversation started. An indoor water garden adds a touch of whimsy, especially thanks to the peek-a-boo view below the surface. Follow along with these instructions to make an easy tabletop indoor water garden in a vase, with a few friends (aka ceramic fish!) thrown in for company!
The Best Water Plants
Choosing the best water plants is essential to making this project work. There are a number of requirements for the right plant, mainly that the water plant should not require soil to grow.
For this project, you want the plants that float on top of the water (called “floaters”), rather than seaweed-type plants that stay nestled in the ground.
Some floating plants, such as frogbit (Limnobium spongia), look like large clusters of tiny leaves that cover the surface of the water. In a glass water garden like this one, I prefer to use large floaters with long, graceful roots such as water lettuce (Pistia stratiote) or water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).
I particularly love that an indoor water garden like this one allows you to see the roots of the plant. So much of the magic of plants lay in the roots, and we rarely (if ever!) get to see them. Here’s your chance to peel back the veil and take a look.
Use Ceramic Fish in Your Indoor Water Garden
You’ll notice in the images that there appear to be two fish within the water garden. Before you head to the pet store…they’re fake! These are ceramic fish, not real bettas.
While I have seen projects with goldfish or bettas, a vase is too small and the plants at the top actually limit the oxygen available to the fish. Read more about the safety of betta fish in plant vases here.
How to Make a DIY Indoor Water Garden
- One large, cylindrical, footed glass vase
- Colored aquarium rocks
- Ceramic fish
- Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) – you can also find this in your local garden center
Start with a tall, cylindrical vase for this project. Wash it with soap and water, rinse well, and dry it to ensure that there are no unseen bacteria or fungus that can grow and taint your water garden.
Add a layer of colored pebbles on the bottom of the vase. I chose a bright color, but you can choose any type of rocks or pebbles that suit your space.
Fill the vase with water and let stand for 24 hours to allow the chlorine in the water to evaporate. The chlorine may cause the leaves of the plants to yellow, so it’s best to let it stay out overnight.
Alternatively, use collected rainwater for your garden and you can plant it right away!
You can add a couple of ceramic fish to the bottom of the vase, but again, I caution you against adding real fish.
Caring For Your Tabletop Indoor Water Garden
Care for plants that grow in the water is certainly different than typical soil-based plants, but you’ll also be surprised at how similar they are as well.
An indoor water garden like this doesn’t require much care. I mean, you certainly don’t have to water it! Well, you may have to top off the water now and then, and change the water (remember to let the water sit in a container for 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate) if it becomes murky, but overall this indoor water garden is virtually maintenance-free.
Pond plants are meant to be kept in an outdoor environment. In my experience, they last quite a long time in an indoor garden, but eventually, they will need to be replaced.
However, if your practiced green thumb allows the plants to thrive so much that they multiply, you can move them to your outside pond or even make up another indoor water garden to give away as a gift.
Help! My Water Plants are Turning Yellow!
I’ve gotten a few comments over the years since this post was originally published. Some people have said their water plants have turned yellow.
If this happens, it’s likely to do with the amount of light they are getting. If you have yellowing edges, I’d recommend trimming them back a bit and moving the plant to somewhere less bright.
Water plants like the shade, so I caution you against sitting this indoor water garden in a sunny windowsill. Instead, show it off on your desk, in a bookshelf, or even in a bathroom.
There you have it! As you can see, this indoor water garden is a beautiful way to add an unusual decor piece to virtually any space! Enjoy!
More Creative Indoor Plant Projects:
Indoor Water Garden
- 1 set ceramic fish
- Start with a tall, cylindrical vase for this project. Make sure it is washed well to avoid bacterial growth.
- Add a layer of colored pebbles on the bottom of the vase.
- Optional: add ceramic fish to the bottom on top of the pebbles.
- Fill the vase with water and let stand for 24 hours to allow the chlorine in the water to evaporate.
- Add your water plant to the top