How to Make Ice Lanterns

What pulls us out into the garden and gets our creative juices flowing in the dreary wintertime? Ice lanterns. They’re remarkably beautiful, fun to make, and even offer a way to repurpose floral holiday arrangement materials from indoors and out. 

Admittedly, they are only easy to make once you have all the right steps. It took us quite a few tries to iron out the details, but now that we have, you can benefit! Follow the steps below to make your own outdoor decor. 

Impress guests, wildlife, or just yourself.

Gather Materials

A group of assorted materials. Including plastic containers, hot water, rocks, and bits of plants.
  • Hot water (not boiling, just noticably warm)
  • Plenty of rocks (including flat ones)
  • Two types of flexible plastic containers:
    • Larger containers that will serve as the base of the lantern – all-purpose food storage, yogurt, and cottage cheese containers work great
    • Smaller containers (need to fit inside the large ones above) that will serve as the spot you put the candle – use the bottoms of soda bottles or coffee creamer containers, or yogurt or baby food cups

The Process

1. Put a flat rock at the bottom of the big container. This makes a layer of ice at the bottom, so it’s more like a bowl and not just a tube.

2. Place the smaller container on top of the rock and fill with rocks to weigh it down. Now fill the big container with hot water. 

3. Add all of the foliage and flowers you’d like to the water. Tip: The more you add, the more that will stay at the bottom.

4. Place in the freezer or outdoors if the temperatures are below freezing. Wait until the ice solidifies, at least a day. 

5. Remove from the freezer and fill the inner container with hot water to release it easily.

6. Place the container upside down in a sink and run some hot water over the bottom. This releases the lantern from the container.

Enjoy!

Find the perfect spot to display your ice lantern, perhaps in the snow at the corner of a garden bed, your front porch steps, or at the edge of a walkway. Pop a short candle in, light it, and watch it glow. No matter what your end result is, take pride in it! 

  • Take photos! They’ll be fun to look back at in the summertime, when warmth and color have almost pushed winter out of your mind.
  • If you plan to make more, note which plants gave the best effect against the candlelight and which didn’t quite make your heart flutter. (We love the intricate spirea heads and the papery hydrangea petals.)
  • Share the photos with your gardening friends. They might be inspired to make one too. Every creation is delightfully different!

If you have any garden projects you’d like us to write an in depth how-to on, tell us about it below or send us a message.

Written by
Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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3 Responses

  1. I live in the MS Delta but I will be making these this winter. I’m thinking Nandina (heavenly bamboo-how perfect), berries and leaves, boxwood, hydrangeas, pine.

    1. Ooh that sounds like an absolutely lovely display! It’s always nice to have a plan heading into winter.

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