12 DIY Projects That Bring Nature Indoors

By Lauren Dunec Hoang, Houzz

Potted bulb centerpieces, fresh floral arrangements and botanically inspired wall hangings offer a welcome reminder on cold winter days that spring is just around the corner. Whether you’re snowed in or just hanging out indoors, here are a dozen ideas for DIY projects to get you started.

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Dana44Design, original photo on Houzz

1. Create a hanging window garden.

Pick up a few glass orbs — or better yet, repurpose Christmas ornaments — and fill each one with one or two air plants. Air plants, or Tillandsia, require no soil to survive but should be soaked weekly in water to keep moist. Hang a grouping in a window that receives bright, indirect light.

2. Make a miniature garden under glass.

Create a captivating terrarium with a mix of small potted houseplants, rocks and moss. The trick to getting a terrarium to thrive is to keep the environment moist without adding too much water that it becomes stagnant. Unlike most plant containers, terrariums have no drainage hole for excess water. To accommodate some excess water, layer the bottom of the terrarium container with stone pebbles, charcoal and a filter barrier, such as a landscape fabric, to prevent the soil from percolating down into the pebbles.

3. Coax paperwhites to bloom indoors.

One of the easiest ways to make your home instantly feel like spring is to force bulbs — get them to bloom early — indoors. Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are a great choice for early forcing since, unlike many other bulbs, such as tulips and crocus, they do not require hours of chilling to bloom.

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Susan Duane, original photo on Houzz

To get started, select a ceramic bowl, glass jar or other vessel that doesn’t have a hole at the bottom. Fill the bottom 3 to 4 inches of the container with pebbles and nestle a few paperwhite bulbs in place, with the tips facing up. Add more stones to secure the bulbs. Fill the container with water up to and touching the bottom of the bulbs. Move the container to a room with ample indirect light, and keep the water topped up. Roots, shoots and buds will soon begin to form. Paperwhites generally bloom six weeks after they are exposed to warmth and moisture.

4. Mount a staghorn fern.

The botanical equivalent of a pair of antlers mounted on the wall, staghorn ferns make beautiful wall accents. To re-create the look, fasten a staghorn fern to an untreated woodblock using fishing line and sphagnum moss.

Staghorn ferns (Platycerium) are epiphytes and In nature grow on tree trunks and branches in tropical and temperate rainforests. The ferns will grow best indoors in a place where they’ll receive bright light and where the mounting can be easily taken down for weekly watering.

Hang mounted ferns in unexpected places — such as above a bed for a jungle-like backdrop or in the bathroom, where they will appreciate moist air from the shower.

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Rizzoli New York, original photo on Houzz

5. Arrange a foraged bouquet.

While winter gardens can look bleak at first glance, there’s often more there than first meets the eye. Head out to the garden (or to your local florist) to bring some blooms and greenery indoors. In mild climates, citrus is at its peak in winter, and branches of kumquats look like jewels in bouquets. Early narcissus bulbs may be beginning to come up under trees. Pick them as buds and allow them to open indoors, filling rooms with a fresh, lemony fragrance.

6. Pot up bulbs for gifts.

If there’s anyone you forgot on your holiday list, now’s the time to make amends. Pick up already sprouting potted bulbs at the nursery and wrap them with simple brown paper and twine.

Hyacinths have a fresh scent and grow only about 12 inches tall, needing no staking to keep upright. Add a trio to your windowsill or give them away individually to friends.

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California Dreaming, original photo on Houzz

7. Try your knotting skills.

Macramé wall hangings and plant hangers have been popping up in design magazines and home stores for the past few years. These 1960s-style throwbacks are easier to recreate than they may look. Once you’ve mastered the basic straight knot, it’s easy to see that simple plant hangers such as these require only about a dozen knots to come together.

8. Tie up a kokedama.

Bring a bit of whimsy to your desk shelf or kitchen window with a Japanese string garden. What look like soil-less plants are in fact ferns, succulents and other houseplants that have their root balls wrapped in sphagnum moss and tied with string.

To make your own kokedama, start by spreading down a tarp and gathering your materials (houseplants, peat soil, cactus soil, clay mud, sphagnum moss, twine, water and clippers) in place. Strip the plant down to the root ball and then wrap the roots with a little damp sphagnum moss. Next, form a ball of moist soil. Use your thumb to poke a small hole into the center of the ball and slip in the plant roots. Wrap the exterior with sheets of moss, using the twine to hold them in place. Soak the ball weekly in water to keep the soil moist.

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Moodfeather, original photo on Houzz

9. Freshen up terra-cotta pots.

Give old pots new life with a coat of paint in a bright springlike hue of mint, pale blue, lavender or yellow. For a more glamorous look, spray the pot rims with gold or silver metallic paint, keeping much of the pot’s natural terra-cotta look. Add a delicate maidenhair fern or sturdy succulent and place by a sunny window.

10. Plant an old crate.

Turn an old fruit, milk or soda bottle crate into a potting vessel full of character. Start by lining the crate with landscape fabric to keep the soil from spilling out through the cracks in the wood when you water. Next, fill the crate with potting mix and tuck in a trio of culinary herbs or a collection of succulents. Keep the box by a sunny window or move outdoors in mild winter climates, watering the container outdoors as needed.

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Lauren Donaldson, original photo on Houzz

11. Make your own tool rack.

Get a jump-start on your garden organization by creating a simple wall-mounted tool rack out of a yardstick and a handful of screws and hooks.

Space the hooks according to the size of the tools or other accessories you wish to hang. Mount the yardstick to the inside of a garden shed door for easy access.

12. Frame botanical prints.

No dirt required for this nature-themed project. Select a set of your favorite botanical drawings — check old bookstores for prints or garden shops for calendars — and arrange them in a grouping that balances color and form. Frame them individually and hang as a group or in a windowpane frame for a fresh display.

Related: Browse Botanical Wall Art

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