A Guide on How to Make a Simple Terrarium

Want to create something unique and cute for your home? Terrariums are easy to make and add a bit of plant life to your indoor decor. 

All you need is a glass bowl or aquarium that is transparent and partially enclosed. Light needs to be able to enter the bowl while retaining moisture for the plants to survive inside. It’s like a teeny tiny living world!

Terrariums are fun for all ages and make a great rainy day craft or gift for a loved one. You can get as creative as you want to decorate, utilizing tons of little figurines to place inside your terrarium or accent it with fire glass or smooth river pebbles. The possibilities are endless!

We give you a basic guide on how to set up your first terrarium, but we’re warning you now- you might get addicted!

What you’ll need:

  • Glass container: for example, a jar or goldfish bowl will work perfectly
  • Fire glass, river pebbles, or gravel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Terrarium plants: air plants, succulents, button ferns, cacti, jade plant
  • Sterile potting mix
  • Sheet moss
  • Figurines and other decorative pieces

1. Prepare your glass container

Landscape Glass

Landscape Glass

You don’t need a special container for your terrarium. You can use anything from an old pickle jar to plastic Tupperware (although most people prefer the look of smooth glass).

You can make a closed terrarium, but the pent-up condensation increases the risk of plant fungus. That’s why we prefer an open container, like a fishbowl.

Go with any size you like. The wider the bowl, the more plants, and pebbles you can fit inside.

2. Add a drainage layer

Terrariums don’t have drainage holes on the bottom like typical planters, so you’ll need to create a drainage layer that doesn’t touch the plant roots.

Start with a layer of sheet moss that covers the bottom of the container. This material will soak up moisture. You can also add a layer of small garden pebbles for extra drayage if you have a deeper container.

Add a ¼- ½ inch layer of activated charcoal on top of the stones or sheet moss. This will help regulate drainage and get rid of odors.

3. Add your moss and soil layers

Take some more moss and layer it on top of the charcoal. On top of that, you’ll spoon out your potting soil. You don’t have to be stingy with the soil- add as much as you can, stopping where the plants can’t breach the opening of the container.

4. Make a plan

Now comes the fun part. You can move your tiny plants to their new home! Before you you start digging, make a plan for your terrarium design by arranging the plants around the container.

Once you’re satisfied, remove them from their temporary containers and plant them in the terrarium soil. If it’s difficult to place them inside such a small opening, you can use chopsticks or tweezers for more finesse.

5. Express yo’ self

Go wild with your teeny decor, whether you want to create a whimsical forest with colorful fire glass or a mermaid grotto with seashells. 

Once you’re finished, use a spray bottle filled with water to spritz away any dirt that clings to the container, and make sure to spritz the plants and soil so that the environment is damp, but not soaking wet.

6. Maintain your terrarium

Since terrariums hold in moisture, they don’t need a lot of maintenance. Pat the soil every couple of weeks to feel for dryness, and spritz it with water if so. Prune away any yellow leaves from the plants. Other than that- it’s a breeze!

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