DIY Project: How to Make a Terrarium

Updated: Nov. 29, 2021

No room for a garden? Want to keep a piece of the outdoors on your table or desk? Learn how to make a terrarium in a few easy steps.

Would you like to create your own miniature, self-contained garden? A terrarium is a great way to do just that. They are easy to create and make a beautiful addition to your home decor. Here’s how to make a terrarium.

TerrariumNoelle Johnson

Terrariums are a great way to express your creativity. From the type of container to the plants you select, the possibilities are almost endless. If you are a fan of miniature fairy gardens, then terrariums are right up your alley.

terrarium craft bookVia

I was given the opportunity to review Timber Press’ book Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds  by Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant. I must admit that I was amazed at the many different types of terrariums they had created. The book is full of illustrations and step-by-step directions on how to build a terrarium. (I gave this book to my mother, who loves growing indoor plants. She was inspired to create four beautiful terrariums. She made the beautiful terrarium for me that you see in this post).

Terrariums are quite easy to make.  To create your own, you will need a clear glass container, activated charcoal, pebbles, potting soil, sand your favorite plant(s) and a some other elements (seashells, moss, stones, figurines, etc) for decoration.

Psst—we’re hopping with excitement over this adorable bunny succulent.

terrariumNoelle Johnson

You can use many different types of containers, from an old goldfish bowl, a vase or even a glass serving bowl. For me, I like the clean lines of this clear glass container. It is easiest to select a container that has a wide enough mouth so you can add the elements of your terrarium. Whether your container has a lid or not, is up to you and the type of terrarium plant you use. Succulent plants do best without a lid, while lush, green plants prefer one.

Check out 12 mini planters to suit any decorating style.

How to Make a Terrarium

1. Place small pebbles at the bottom for drainage and then add a layer of activated charcoal, which will absorb odors and keep your terrarium fresh.

2. Now it’s time to add potting soil. If you are planting succulents or cacti, mix your potting soil with sand. A funnel can help with adding soil.  Use a spoon to help you to move your soil where you want.

how to make a terrariumNoelle Johnson

Build up the layers using your choice of potting soil, sand, colored pebbles, etc. I like how they look when you layer them.

3. Add your favorite small, slow-growing plant. Now comes the fun part. What you include in your terrarium is up to you.  Let your imagination help you create a miniature world.  Succulents and cacti are great for uncovered terrariums. Choices for covered terrariums include ferns, baby’s tears, variegated spider fern, nerve plant or black mondo grass. Don’t over plant….you want to leave room for adding other elements to your ‘miniature world’.

Because I like succulents, my terrarium has a jade plant.

terrariumNoelle Johnson

4. Add elements such as sea shells, colored beach glass, stones, an artificial bird’s nest, or a little figurine. My terrarium has faux quail eggs and a couple pieces of wood.

how to make a terrariumNoelle Johnson

Chopsticks work great for placing small things in your terrarium.

5. Place your terrarium in an area that gets indirect sunlight. Too much sunlight can burn the plants in your terrarium.

6. Uncovered terrariums need very little water – maybe a tablespoon 1 to 2 times a week. Covered terrariums should need little to no water.

That’s it! Now that you know how to build a terrarium, you can make as many as you like in any style that suits you. Enjoy the miniature worlds you create!

Note: Terrarium plants won’t last forever—they often outgrow their small space. It’s normal to have to replace them at least once a year. At that time, you can create different look for your terrarium or simply replace with the same plant. The choice is yours.

Next, learn how to turn a birdbath into a planter for a mini fairy garden.