My son asked me how to make a terrarium the other day. I had a decent answer off the top of my head but I did the research to confirm best practices.
Terrariums are really nice to look at and give you a miniature garden in an indoor space where it might not be practical to have other plants. They are great for urban condominimium dwellers.
You can even hang a terrarium from the ceiling if you want and the good news is that they’re really easy to make and we’ll show you how in our guide to how to make your own terrarium.
What Do I Need To Make A Terrarium?
You need very little to make a terrarium and the project is super easy to carry out – it shouldn’t take much more than half an hour.
You will need certain things though and these include:
- A glass container for your terrarium – you can pick anything you like as long as it’s big enough to accommodate your plants. Unleash your imagination.
- Activated charcoal – this is there to keep bacteria to a minimum.
- Gardening tools – the smaller the better. The more you have the easier this is to carry out.
- Plants – you have to have plants or it’s not a terrarium (more on this in a moment)
- Potting soil – this is the best way to keep your plants healthy and happy.
- Some pebbles – pebbles act as the drainage system in the terrarium and they decorate and protect the soil.
What Plants Should I Put In My Terrarium?
You don’t need to put too much thought into the plants and you can go with anything with the proviso that it’s small enough to live in your chosen vessel and that it enjoys humidity because it will get humid in there.
Good plants include Air Plants, Moon Valley, Nerve Plants, any kind of cactus and any kind of succulent.
Pick the plants then pick the vessel for the terrarium and the rest is super easy from there on in.
The Project: How To Make Your Own Terrarium
Cover The Bottom Of The Container In Pebbles
You need to put about a 1 and ½” of pebbles on the bottom of the container, this provides adequate drainage inside the terrarium.
Sprinkle With Activated Charcoal
You don’t need a ton of activated charcoal just a light dusting to ensure that bacteria are kept to a minimum and that the water stays as fresh as possible.
Top Up With Potting Soil
We recommend potting soil for this because it stays moist more easily than other forms of soil. If you intend to plant cacti or succulents, you may want to investigate a particular mix for this as they can be quite sensitive but other than that – any potting soil mix available commercially ought to be find for this.
A layer of about 2”-2 ½” is about right. Gauge this by how much space will be left in the terrarium once the soil is in – you want room to add your plants, right?
Put The Plants Inside
This bit is pretty easy as long as you follow a simple routine:
- Plant the plants in reverse order of size. So start with the biggest and finish with the smallest, this makes planting easiest.
- Remove a plant from the container it is in and then clean up the roots as you would if you were to repot it.
- Make a hole in the soil big enough to accommodate the roots of your plant.
- Then nestle the plant in the space in the soil above it and then move on to your next plant.
If you are planting a cactus, you probably want to wear some gloves while you do this as it can get quite prickly without.
Finish Things Off With More Pebbles
Pebbles are your friend and the way to make your terrarium look like a professional effort from a garden center is to top all the empty space with some more pebbles. You can also pop in some ornaments if you want (yes, even a garden gnome if you must).
How To Care For Your Terrarium
Taking care of a terrarium is really about ensuring that it gets enough water and that it gets enough sunlight.
So make sure to put it somewhere that it can soak up rays for a lot of the day but somewhere that it gets those rays indirectly so that it doesn’t get too hot.
You also want to check the soil every couple of weeks and add more water if it feels at all dry, if you notice that the soil is visibly drying out before the usual check – top it up with water anyway, your plants won’t live without water.
For additional inspiration to bring your living space “alive” check out our guide to vertical gardening and out picks for the best indoor trees.