Before you get started learning how to make a terrarium, make sure you have all your terrarium plants and materials ready to use.  Pick out the glass container your want to use. Make sure that your container is clean before you start your project.  Clean your container with soap and water, then dry it before you begin.

Materials you need to make an open terrarium are:

  • River Gravel, Pea Gravel or Small Rocks
  • Ground charcoal
  • Glass Container or Clear Plastic Container
  • Potting Soil
  • Plants
  • Decorative rocks, shells or wood
  • Water and Mist Bottle

Terrarium containers do not have any drainage holes in the bottom.  You will need to create a false drainage by using river gravel, pea gravel or small rocks in the bottom of the container.  Depending on the size of your container, this layer should be about 1″ deep.

Next add a 1/2″ layer of ground charcoal on top of the gravel.  Charcoal helps keep your terrarium fresh and helps prevent any mold or bacteria from growing. Since charcoal is a bit messy, you may want to wear plastic gloves when you work with it.

Next you will add 2-3″ of potting soil.  Make sure you use only good quality, commercial potting soil which has been sterilized to kill any organisms in the soil which will help avoid insect and disease problems.  If you are planting cactus or succulents, you should cactus potting soil which has sand mixed in with it.  Use regular potting soil for your other plants.

Overall, the gravel, charcoal and soil should take up 1/3 of your container.

Add Your Terrarium Plants

Select small sized plants that require the same type of environment and care.  Never mix plants that prefer drought conditions with plants that need more water.  Make sure you put plants with different growing requirements together in the same terrarium.

Trim off any dead leaves or anything that might decay from the plants before placing them in the terrarium.  Try not to let the plants touch the container sides and leave room between the plants.

Start with the largest plant first.  Place the tallest plant in the back or center of the container.  Remove the plant from the pot and place it in your terrarium.  Gently make a small hole in the soil, place your plant in the hole and firmly cover the roots with the soil.

After all your plants are in place, plant some moss or some other type of ground cover.  You may want to add some decorative rock, wood or figurines to complete your terrarium garden.

Terrarium Tips

Water is the last thing to add to your terrarium.  Less is more.  Underwater or misting works best.  Remember that there is no drainage hole and you can always add a little more water later.

Do not place your terrarium in direct sunlight.  Regular day light is best.

Watch for any pests or sick leaves and remove them as soon as you can.

Above all, keep your terrarium container garden fresh and clean.  Now that you know how to make a terrarium, and how easy it is, you can get started on your next one.

Filed under: Terrarium Ideas