Steps to Building a Terrarium


Gather Supplies

  • A clear glass or plastic jar with a lid.

  • Sand (or small pebbles) and dirt for the base layer.

  • Small humidity loving plants, see if your local greenhouse carries plants in 2 inch pots. Or experiment with small plants from your yard.

  • Live moss, often you can find this in your yard as well.

  • Spoon and brush to help get materials in place.

  • Decorations such as little figurines, sea shells, neat rocks, pinecones.

Begin with Base Layer

The base layer is there to provide visual interest not drainage. The jar does not have holes or any way to get rid of excess water. We want to keep the top on the container to create a little ecosystem. I like to tell people if they water their terrarium they are making the “swamp of death,” not something that I recommend.

Look at your container and visually or with a chalk maker or piece of sticky note where the bottom third of the jar would be. Your terrarium will have a nice balance if you keep the sand and soil layer to the bottom 1/3 of the container.

Use the spoon to place alternating colors of sand and/or pebbles. The materials that touch the sides of the container is what you will see when done, so look at the sides to see how your layers are coming. About halfway to your mark you made add your soil. I recommend soil that is slightly damp.



Time to Add Some Green

Make sure you plant has been watered recently so that it is damp going in.

Squeeze the side of the pot to loose and tug plant to remove from pot. Use your figures around the roots to loosen and remove excess soil.

Use your spoon to make a hole in the soil for your plant(s). Wiggle the base of the plant down into the hole and if the plant goes into the sand some too that is fine. Push the soil up around the plant to make sure the roots are covered.

Moss it Up

I love moss, it’s green, soft and often looks like a blanket of tiny ferns. It is really easy to use, simply rip a chunk of it to the size you want and set it on top of the soil.

That said, it is not necessary to survival of your terrarium, moss is simply a decoration. So if you don’t have any or are not a fan of moss not to worry, your terrarium will be amazing.



Let’s Decorate

Miniscaping your tiny world is such a fun time to watch your terrarium really come together. Maybe you have fairies or dinosaurs and you add different elements to bring that scene to life. Or maybe you use only natural elements so terrarium could be a little peaceful slice of forest for your desk. HO scale railroad figurines are fun to make scenes with tiny people. There is endless possibilities, have fun with them!