Create a terrarium and watch your garden-under-glass grow and thrive.

Materials Needed

  • clear glass or plastic container (kitchen canister, jar, fishbowl or tank, etc., and lid), clean and dry
  • pea gravel or polished rocks
  • activated charcoal
  • sphagnum moss
  • small, slow-growing plants that tolerate low light and have similar water needs (be sure the plants are healthy and showing no signs of disease)
  • potting soil (fresh bag to make sure it's sterile)
  • spoon, long-handled (if container has a small opening)

Step 1: Create the Garden Bed

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Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of pebbles to the bottom of the container for drainage.

Add a 1-1/2-inch layer of activated charcoal over the pebbles.

Add a 1-1/2-inch layer of sphagnum moss over the charcoal. This will help prevent soil from moving down between the pebbles.

Pre-moisten the potting soil till damp but not soggy, and add three to four inches to the bottom of the container. The amount you add will depend on the size of the container and the type and size of plants that you want to grow.


Step 2: Plant Your Terrarium

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Remove plants from their pots. Remove excess soil from around their roots, and cut away pot-bound roots. If a plant is too big for its place in the container — either in size or root mass — divide the plant at its roots, if necessary, to fit the size and scale of the container. Create a planting hole in the soil and place each plant where the leaves won't touch the glass; firm the soil around the base of each plant.

Step 3: Decorate Your Terrarium

Finish off your miniature garden with stones and decorative pieces as desired.

Lightly spray the foliage and inside of the glass to remove any soil particles.

Place in a bright spot indoors but out of direct sun, and leave the top on for a day or so until the leaves and glass dry. If the soil feels soggy, remove the top of the terrarium and let the excess moisture evaporate. Then put the lid back on the container.

14 Comments About this How To

  • Melody Hageman
    me and the kids enjoyed making this fun project. I blogged about the experience and have pictures of our terrariums -- http://testingtrendy123.blogspot.com/2012/10/terrariums-bringing-outside-in.html.

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Nancy
    @ Angus. I love airplants and the care is very minimal. They are also known as Tallandsia. I have several terrariums with them and they are unique and beautiful. On Ebay the cost is very reasonable. Can go a long time without watering or care. Happy planting.

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Liz
    I like your idea, Angus! We will try it with herbs!

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Jeanne Rife
    I have an 8x8 closed Victorian style terrarium in which I have been unable to keep plants alive. Now I know why! I hadn't established the proper base! I will definitely try again. I always feel a little bit sorry for the plants I buy.....

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • HGTVMallory
    Let us know how your new one turns out, Jeanne!

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Dottie Huttenloch Talbert-Burket
    this is a great idea I have cats and they eat all my other plants so this might work with a lid. thanks for the idea

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Tim Moses
    I made this when I was in Boy Scouts about 40 years ago. It's cool to watch it rain inside the unit!!

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Susan Craik
    I also did this as part of an after school science program I taught years ago, used large 5 gallon glass water containers, we did plant some herbs,peppermint is one I remember...grew for years and years

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • anonymous
    At Frazee Gardens we use brown natural coffee filters instead of a peat layer. In many round jars it fits perfectly, nearly invisible. A saucer or coaster can make a nice lid for jars, easy to loosen by wedging a toothpick under if the terrarium gets too damp to see the plants through the glass. Check the pebble layer; if it is dry, the terrarium might need water or a tighter lid to trap the moisture.

    Posted 2 years ago

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  • Pauline Gordon
    Thanks for this I have big aquarium which I am going to try with plants. Hope it will be ok

    Posted 1 month ago

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