You Will Need:
- Glass containers without lids
- Gravel, pebbles, marbles or stones
- Terrarium plants
- Sterile potting mix
- Moss (optional)
- Decorative elements (optional)
For your terrarium, look for a jar or container with a mouth wide enough for your hand to fit through easily. While it is possible to use something with a small opening, it is much easier to add plants if your container has a wider mouth.
If you are using a larger container, you will have a greater choice of types and size plants you can use as well as the option of fitting in decorative elements, such as shells, figurines or ornaments.
Selecting Your Plants
When choosing terrarium plants, make sure they are small enough to fit in your container, preferably without touching the sides or crowding. You'll also want to buy plants that don’t mind a humid environment.
The following are very popular and have proven to be some of the best terrarium plants:
- Artillery Fern
- Aluminum Plant
- Polka Dot Plant or Hypoestes
- Button Fern
- Creeping Fig or Ficus Primula
Your container will not have drainage holes in the bottom so you’ll want to create a place for extra water to go that keeps it away from your plants’ roots.
Put at least 2” layer of stones in the bottom, for more shallow containers, you can get away with 1" of stones or pebbles.
With a large spoon or small shovel, add sterile potting mix on top of your stones or pebbles. Add as much potting mix as you can - at least a couple of inches. You will want to make sure your plants will fit into your terrarium, so you might have to hold your plants up to measure as you add soil.
At this point it’s important to think about the design of your terrarium. You probably want to put your tallest plant in back, or in the middle. You can also contour your soil so that it mounds and sinks to create depth and texture.
Remove your plants from their pots. You may find that they are root bound, in which case you will want to tease the roots apart, even cutting some off. By cutting off some of the roots, called root pruning, you will also retard your plant’s growth, which is usually a good thing when growing plants in the confines of a terrarium. You'll also want to take off any excess soil as well.
Some plants can be separated by gently pulling them apart. If you’re not sure, look at the base of the plant; there may be several small plants grouped tightly together even though it just looks like one plant. This can come in handy if the plant looks too big once you've tried it out in your terrarium.
Using a large spoon, or your fingers, dig a hole in the potting mix. Place your plant in the hole and gently pat the soil around it, making sure it is level and the roots are sufficiently covered.
Once your plants are in place, you may want to create a trail of pebbles, some decorative moss, or even a little garden gnome. This is the part where you get creative, and make your terrarium unique to your taste.
Just ensure that your decorative items do not overwhelm the plants, or do not block them too much from growth or light.
Caring For Your Terrarium
Using a spray bottle or watering can, water your terrarium. You don’t want it to be soaking wet, just damp. You can also use the spray bottle to clean off any dirt that has clung to the glass sides of your container.
Never use glass cleaner on the inside of a planted terrarium, as it could make your plants sick and they may die.
Caring for your terrarium is easy. Check every couple of weeks to see if your terrarium needs water. Feel the soil to see if it is dry and add water if it is.
Pull off any leaves that show signs of yellowing or damage and prune plants if they grow too large.
Don’t fertilize your terrarium because you don’t want to encourage growth.
And last but not least, enjoy your terrarium! Place it any room where you need a fresh reminder of nature.