How to build a terrarium? The most common question that usually comes in people mind. A terrarium is a container for indoor gardening that houses plants. It is often built of glass that is either completely or partially enclosed to let light and heat in while keeping moisture in check. The Latin words “terra” (earth) and “arium” (location or container) are combined to get the English word “terrarium”. A terrarium can be used for a variety of things. They might be produced solely for aesthetic purposes, for scientific research, or for plant reproduction. With just a few simple, inexpensive materials—including a variety of glass jars that make stunning DIY terrarium vessels you can set up a basic terrarium in an hour or two. The cute little terrarium plants are often only a few bucks each. Read on to find out how to make or buy a terrarium, as well as how to pick and care for the plants, if you’re interested in making one.

Plants Suitable for Terrariums:

Larger houseplants can be accommodated in larger terrariums, but avoid species that grow quickly or have huge leaves that may obstruct the light needed by the smaller plants. Look for plants that do well in low to medium light when selecting terrarium plants. Choose a variety of leaf sizes, textures, and colors for visual appeal. Choose plants that won’t mind the terrarium’s naturally damp atmosphere. Avoid growing succulents and cacti in terrariums that are completely enclosed; these plants thrive in open containers that are filled with potting soil that contains a lot of gritty sand.

Some examples of plants that thrive in terrariums are shown below:

  • African violet
  • Pothos (Commonly known as Devil’s Vine)
  • Polka dot plant
  • Small ferns
  • Lucky bamboo
  • Nerve plant
  • Prayer plant
  • Club moss
  • Creeping fig

Required Tools and Materials:


  • Garden trowel or a large spoon.               
  • Scissors or little garden snips for pruning plant roots.
  • Aerosol cane.


  • Glass container with or without a top and no drainage holes.
  • Crushed stone or sparkling aquarium gravel.
  • Charcoal that has been activated.
  • Container plants.
  • Clean potting soil.
  • Blanket moss.
  • Aesthetic components.

Steps to Build a Terrarium:

You should need to follow different steps to build a terrarium.

1. Container Selection:

Half the fun of creating a terrarium is selecting the container and plants. You may purchase a variety of specialist terrarium containers, including some that cost hundreds of dollars and resemble little Victorian greenhouses or conservatories. However, you can make a terrarium with nearly any transparent (glass or plastic) container with a wide opening (with or without a lid). Aquariums, goldfish bowls, Wardian cases, cold frames, bell jars, tureens, apothecary jars, cloches, mason jars, glass cookie jars, and even sizable brandy snifters are examples of containers that work well. You can insert your hand into a container with a wide aperture to add drainage material, soil, plants, and ornamental components.

2. Plant Selection:

The majority of garden centers have miniature plants for terrariums, sometimes right next to the accessories for fairy gardens. Select terrarium plants that can fit in your container and have a variety of foliage heights and forms, ideally without touching the terrarium’s sides.

3. Addition of Drainage Layers:

You will need to make a drainage layer because the terrarium container lacks drainage holes, which will prevent water from getting near the plant roots.

i. Start by adding a 2-inch layer of crushed stone or gravel to the terrarium’s base. A deeper layer of drainage stones is needed for a tall, narrow terrarium than for a wide, shallow one.

ii. Activated charcoal should then be spread on top of the stones in a 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer using a large spoon or trowel to aid drainage and eliminate any odors.

4. Addition of Moss and Potting Mix:

To prevent the potting soil from blending with the stones and charcoal, add a layer of sheet moss next. The moss gives your terrarium additional visual interest.

i. Add a thin layer of moist, sterile potting soil on top of the moss using a large spoon or small trowel. Use potting soil without fertilizer added; terrarium plants don’t require additional fertilizer.

ii. At least a few inches of potting mix should be added. In order for the plants to fit inside the container with room to grow but without hitting the top of a closed terrarium, it is important to keep the soil level low enough.

5. Plant Preparation:

Choose the layout of your terrarium before you start planting. Select the locations for your tall and short plants, as well as the mounds and dips you’ll make in the soil to create fascinating contours.

i. Plants should be taken out of their nursery pots.

ii. Tease apart the roots of a plant if it is rootbound.

iii. Trim some of the longer roots with a pair of small garden shears.

iv. When growing plants in the limits of a terrarium, root pruning, which involves removing certain roots, will slow a plant’s growth.

6. Remove any damaged or yellowed leaves:

i. Clear the plants of any extra soil that remains.

ii. Dig a hole for each plant using a long spoon or your fingers.

iii. Place each plant in its hole, then use a soft patting motion to remove any air pockets and firmly anchor each one in the potting medium.

7. Decorate the Terrarium:

Place miniature figurines, shells, colorful stones, or other creative embellishments within the terrarium if you’d like to embellish it.

8. Watering Terrarium Plants:

i. To water the plants so they are damp but not drenched, use a spray bottle or a small watering can with a rose attachment on its nozzle.

ii. You can use newspaper or a paper towel to wipe away any remaining dirt from the glass surfaces of your container after using the spray bottle to remove it.

9. Maintaining Terrarium:

The majority of terrariums will thrive in an area with plenty of filtered light, but not in direct sunlight, which can heat up the terrarium and bake the plants inside. South-facing windows that receive a little shade can be perfect. Artificial grow lights will help your plants flourish if you don’t have enough naturally filtered sunlight, such as if your home is surrounded by trees that provide shade. Because LED and fluorescent artificial lighting typically don’t generate much heat, your plants can receive all the light they require to grow.

Terrarium maintenance is simple. Every few weeks, carry out these three actions:

i. Check the soil’s moisture content by feeling the surface. Terrariums that are partially or completely enclosed keep their water much longer than the majority of potted houseplants.

ii. Check for condensation in a closed terrarium. To improve ventilation, remove the top once a month at the very least. As soon as the condensation stops, leave the top off. If you added too much water, remove the terrarium top as well.

iii. If plants are getting too big for the container, cut them back to a smaller size and remove any yellowing or broken leaves.

iv. In a terrarium, never fertilize the plants. Through the organic decomposition of the potting soil, terrariums provide their own nutrients.

If you are thinking of having these unique terrariums or need any consulting about landscape, you can contact DUA Landscape.


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