Create Your Own Little World! How To Make A Terrarium

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What Is A Terrarium?

Terrariums are the ultimate, low-maintainance indoor garden. A terrarium is a transparent container designed to hold plants in controlled conditions. You are basically constructing your own mini environment! They add a natural, organic feel to your home, they are great for your health as they assist in removing nasty pollutants from the air, and they look incredible!

orchid terrarium

You Will Need…

  • A clear glass container
  • Various small plants – Mosses, succulents, cactuses, orchids, ferns are preferable.
  • Small rocks/pebbles/gravel
  • Black soil – preferably sterilised potting mix.
  • Activated charcoal
  • Sphagnum moss
  • A water spray bottle
  • A spoon and fork

terrarium construction

Step 1: Pick And Prepare Your Container

Terrariums can  be constructed in any clear glass container: e.g. fish bowls, jars, vases, bottles – be as creative as you like (so long as the container is transparent!) Peel off any price stickers, tags etc. and give your container a thorough wash in hot, soapy water (best to use eco-friendly soap). Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Create A Layer Of Pebbles/Gravel At The Bottom Of Your Container

This is the drainage base of your terrarium. A place for moisture to be stored and recycled.

hanging terrariums

Step 3: Place A Thin Layer Of Activated Charcoal Over The Pebbles/Gravel

Activated charcoal – when placed between the pebble and sphagnum moss layers of your terrarium, will prevent the soil from going sour. Activated charcoal is inexpensive and available at your local pet store or gardening specialist.

Step 4: Place A Thin Layer Of Sphagnum Moss Over The Activated Charcoal

This will act as a barrier between the soil and charcoal to avoid the two mixing and sifting down into the drainage area.

Step 5: Place A Layer Of Soil Over The Sphagnum Moss

Use black, sterilised potting mix – available from all gardening shops, Bunnings Warehouse etc.

light bulb terrarium

Step 6: Plant

Succulents, small cactuses, mosses, orchids, ferns are best as they don’t grow considerably after planting, are perennial and don’t require much care. Consider the size of your container when choosing what plants to use. Generally – smaller is better. Decant your plants from their pots, (very gently) shake off excess soil and trim any long roots with scissors. Dig a small hole (just deep enough to accommodate the roots of your plants) with a small spoon.


Step 7: Fill In The Gaps With A Layer Of Moss 

Some gardening stores sell moss by sections, however your own garden or local park is probably your best bet! Look in damp areas with limited sunlight. Use a fork to gently lever up the moss from the ground, tree, etc. Brush off any excess soil and spray thoroughly with water. Place the sections of moss around the plants.

fork and moss

Voila! You Have Created Your Own Little World!

Spray thoroughly with water – and continue to do so once or twice a week (depending on the temperature and the types of plants in your terrarium). Your terrarium will be happiest in a well-lit spot (several feet from a window). Avoid putting them in really dark rooms with lots of artificial light. Periodic turning will avoid the plants growing lop sided. Avoid fertilisers.

Additional Tips And Tricks…

  • Be as creative as you like!
  • Make a mini-terrarium in a small bottle or a lightbulb! Attach a string and hang from a shelf or on a wall.
  • Use a clear cake stand (with lid) to create a fascinating centrepiece.
  • Terrariums make creative and thoughtful gifts. Especially for people who are impossible to buy for!

string of terrariums


I do not own nor lay claim to any of the above images – all have been sourced from various Pinterest accounts.

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