How To Make A Terrarium

Terrariums are living plant environments which become almost entirely self sufficient by mimicking the structures of the natural world. In order to make a working terrarium, you will need to build layers of substrate which drain and filter water. This water will then evaporate in sunlight, catch under the glass ceiling of your terrarium (like clouds) and fall back into the earth to begin the cycle once again.

You can find your materials at most garden stores or nurseries.

You will need:

Small stones (no larger than 3-5mm diameter)
Sphagnum moss
Horticultural charcoal
Soil (a sandy and porous variety, such as seed raising or a cactus mix with little to no organic material)
Moss or a moisture loving plant such as Fittonia, Baby's Tears or Selaginella

1. Place a sprinkle of stones as your first layer, just enough to cover the floor of the terrarium. This layer acts as drainage.
2. Place a layer of pre-soaked sphagnum moss over the stones. Press down to compact and flatten. Less is more!
3. Sprinkle horticultural charcoal over the sphagnum moss, just enough so you can no longer see the moss.
4. Create your final layer with soil, enough to reach the top of the “bowl” of the terrarium.
5. Place your plant or moss in the soil. If you are using a plant the roots should be beneath the soil. If you are using moss you can simply place it atop the soil.
6. Spray generously with water, but don't drown your plant - they will quickly rot if there is too much water. Damp, not drowned.


Your terrarium will thrive in a wash of indirect sunlight. A good rule of thumb is to ensure the terrarium can “see” the sky but not the sun - as direct sun will burn the plant. Once a month, spray the inside of your terrarium generously with water. Other than this, you will not need to water your terrarium and it will create its own ecosystem within.