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Share to PinterestHow to Build a Terrarium in a Few Simple Steps
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Can You Build Your Own Terrarium? Here's How!

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestHow to Build a Terrarium in a Few Simple Steps

The houseplant trend is huge right now. If your brown thumb has long had you banned from the plant shop but you love the look of luscious, leafy decor, consider a terrarium instead. Terrariums are a fun, low-maintenance way to add greenery and personality to your home. Make a terrarium yourself with just a few easy-to-find supplies, and customize it to suit your tastes.


Choose your base

The first step in creating your own terrarium is choosing your base. Select a glass container with an opening large enough for your hand to fit through. It is possible to create terrariums with smaller openings, but you may need to use tweezers or other tools to put the items inside. Always make sure your container has been washed and dried before you begin.

Share to Pinteresthands making succulent terrarium
mixetto / Getty Images


Add rocks

Share to Pinterestrocks for terrarium drainage

Terrariums need drainage to prevent the plant roots from rotting or getting too soft. Place rocks in the bottom of your container to allow the water to drain out of the soil. River rocks and aquarium pebbles are two common choices and give you a chance to customize the look of your terrarium.


Add a moss layer

Place sphagnum moss in water and wring out the excess. Spread it across the top of your rocks and tamp it down a bit to press it in place — this will help keep the soil separate from the rocks. Keep in mind that the wider your container is, the thicker your layer of rock and moss should be. Smaller containers need a thinner layer.

Share to Pinterestcorked bottle terrariums
@jansmartino / Getty Images


Add soil

Share to Pinterestair plant terrarium

Now that you've selected the right soil for your plants, its time to add it to your terrarium. Spread a layer thicker than the rock layer over the sphagnum moss. For added interest, the soil does not have to be perfectly flat. You can get creative with this part as long as there's enough soil depth at each point for your chosen plants.


Select your plants

What type of terrarium do you want? The plants you house in your terrarium will determine the type of soil you need. Some common plants for terrariums are spiderwort, golden club moss, starfish plants, and nerve plant. The internet is overflowing with other suggestions. A peat mix soil is best for mosses, while a potting mix with moisture-control will work for most other plants.

Share to Pinterestbuilding a terrarium
Hasret Sonmez / Getty Images


Add your plants

Once your soil layer is in place, you can add your chosen greenery. Plant these as you would in a regular pot. Dig an appropriate-sized hole, position the roots and cover with soil. If you pick your plants from the great outdoors, you may want to use a natural pestiside to ensure they didn't bring any pests with them.

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mixetto / Getty Images


Add water

After getting your plants in place, give them a drink to prevent shock. The sphagnum moss and bottom rock layer will allow the water to drain into the bottom, but it's still important not to overwater. Allow for full absorption and draining. Going forward, mist your terrarium every two weeks to a month to keep it hydrated and beautiful.

Share to Pinterestair plant flamingo terrarium
akeeris / Getty Images


Sealed terrariums

Creating a terrarium in a sealed container is slightly different than making an open one. Place pebbles or rocks in the bottom, but place a layer of activated charcoal over it instead of the sphagnum moss. This charcoal layer beneath the soil acts as a filter that purifies the air in your terrarium. Be sure not to place a closed terrarium in direct sun, as the temperature inside the container will be hotter than an open-air terrarium.

Share to Pinterestglass terrarium with ferns
Samathi / Getty Images


Dry terrarium

If the idea of soil and watering still seems like too much work, you could opt for a dry terrarium. Fill the container of your choice with rocks, pebbles, and sand of various types and colors. You can add crystals, seashells, or an air plant to the top layer. Be sure to keep your air plant out of direct sunlight and soak it in water for two or three hours every two weeks.

Share to Pinterestcactus and succulent glass terrarium
hamikus / Getty Images


Get creative

Share to Pinterestbe creative with the contents of your terrarium

When you understand the basics of making a terrarium you can feel free to make something that feels personal and unique to you and your home. Think about the theme you want to portray, and add small figurines or personal mementos. As long as the items you use are waterproof, you can get as creative as you like.


Choosing between plastic and glass containers

Share to PinterestCactus plant in the round bottle of glass hanging on for decoration

When starting your terrarium journey, the decision between plastic and glass containers can significantly influence the look and health of your mini ecosystem. Glass, with its clarity and aesthetic appeal, allows for ample sunlight penetration, vital for your plants' growth. However, if you're looking for durability and a lightweight option, especially if kids are around, plastic containers can be a practical choice. Remember, the material you choose sets the stage for your terrarium's success.


Creative container ideas

Share to PinterestThe Stages Of Making Terrarium

Don't limit your terrarium to traditional containers; the beauty of creating your own is the freedom to get inventive. That old kitchen jar gathering dust in your cupboard or even a vintage light bulb can transform into a new home for your plants. Each container offers a unique landscape to design within, encouraging a creative flair that makes each terrarium a personal piece of living art.


Using activated charcoal for freshness

Share to PinterestPieces of Activated Charcoal a Wonderful Substance with Many Uses

To ensure your terrarium remains a fresh, thriving environment, incorporating a thin layer of activated charcoal between the pebbles and soil is key. This powerhouse material acts as a natural filter, warding off bacteria and keeping the water within your ecosystem clean. Not only does it help in preventing unpleasant odors, but it also contributes to the overall health of your mini garden.


Layering techniques for aesthetics and health

Share to PinterestPrism glass terrarium with green succulents in mini ecosystem

The art of layering your terrarium goes beyond mere functionality; it's about creating a visually appealing miniature landscape that also promotes plant health. Start with a base layer of pebbles for drainage, followed by activated charcoal to purify the environment, then a generous layer of soil. Each layer serves a purpose, ensuring your plants have the perfect foundation to flourish, all while adding an attractive cross-section view of nature's substrates.


Pruning and cleaning

Share to PinterestGirl gardener standing in gloves pruning dry branches at the flower standing in the winter garden overgrown with greenery

Just like any garden, a terrarium needs regular maintenance to stay lush and clean. Pruning overgrown plants not only helps in maintaining the aesthetic appeal but also ensures that all plants have enough space to thrive. Cleaning the glass, both inside and out, keeps your terrarium looking pristine, enhancing the visibility of your carefully curated miniature world. A little upkeep goes a long way in preserving the enchantment of your terrarium.



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