Learn how to build a terrarium with this step-by-step guide. Find out how to choose the right container, layer materials for drainage, select the best plants, and provide maintenance and care. Bring the beauty of nature into your home or office with a customized terrarium.


Welcome to this guide on DIY projects, where we will explore how to build a terrarium. If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to bring a touch of nature into your home or office, a terrarium might be just what you need. Terrariums are self-contained ecosystems that require minimal maintenance and can be customized to fit your style and space. In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions on building a terrarium, tips for selecting the right plants, and ideas for creative designs. Let’s get started!

Short answer: Building a terrarium involves selecting the right container, layering materials for drainage, adding soil and plants, and providing the right conditions for their growth.

Choosing the Right Container

The first step in building a terrarium is selecting the right container. Glass containers with a wide opening, such as glass jars, bowls, or even brandy snifters, are ideal for creating a terrarium. These containers allow for easy viewing of the plants and provide ample space for the plants to grow.

When choosing a container, consider the size of the space where you plan to display the terrarium. Smaller containers are suitable for tabletops or desks, while larger containers can be used as a centerpiece on a dining table or as a focal point in a room. Additionally, consider the container’s style and shape to match your personal aesthetic.

Layering the Materials

Once you have chosen a container, it’s important to create proper drainage to prevent water accumulation and root rot. Layering the materials in the terrarium is essential for proper water flow.

1. Drainage Layer: Begin by adding a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the container. This layer will help promote drainage and prevent water from pooling at the bottom.

2. Charcoal Layer: On top of the drainage layer, add a thin layer of activated charcoal. The charcoal will help absorb any odors and keep the terrarium fresh.

3. Moss Layer: Adding a layer of moss on top of the charcoal is optional but can help prevent soil from seeping into the drainage layer and provide an additional barrier for moisture control.

4. Soil Layer: Next, add a layer of appropriate potting soil formulated for terrariums. This soil should be well-draining and provide essential nutrients for the plants’ growth. Select soil that retains moisture but doesn’t become waterlogged.

Selecting the Right Plants

Choosing the right plants is crucial for the success of your terrarium. Opt for plants that thrive in high humidity, low light conditions, and have compact growth habits suitable for limited space. Consider the specific requirements of the chosen plants, such as their need for direct or indirect light, watering frequency, and any other specific care instructions.

Mosses: Mosses are excellent choices for terrariums due to their ability to thrive in a high humidity environment. Look for species like Scottish moss or Irish moss, which are readily available and easy to grow.

Ferns: Ferns are another popular choice for terrariums. They have delicate, lacy foliage and can add a touch of elegance to your terrarium. Some fern varieties suitable for terrariums include maidenhair ferns, button ferns, and bird’s nest ferns.

Orchids: Orchids are stunning plants that can add a touch of exotic beauty to your terrarium. Look for miniature orchid varieties that can tolerate the high humidity conditions within the terrarium.

Begonias: Begonias are a diverse group of plants that come in various colors and patterns, making them excellent choices for adding visual interest to your terrarium. Choose small, compact varieties that can tolerate the high humidity.

Building the Terrarium

Now that you have chosen your container, layered the materials, and selected the right plants, it’s time to build your terrarium.

1. Arrange the Plants: Start by arranging the plants in the terrarium, considering their growth habits and aesthetic appeal. Place taller or larger plants towards the back or center of the terrarium, while smaller or trailing plants can be placed closer to the front or edges.

2. Plant the Plants: Dig small holes in the soil layer and gently place the plants into the holes. Ensure that the roots are covered with soil and gently press the soil around the base of the plants to secure them in place. Be careful not to overcrowd the terrarium, as plants need space to grow and breathe.

3. Add Final Touches: To complete your terrarium, add decorative elements such as rocks, pebbles, or miniature figurines. These additions can add visual interest and enhance the overall aesthetic of your terrarium.

Maintenance and Care

Once your terrarium is set up, it requires minimal maintenance and care. Here are some tips to keep your terrarium thriving:

1. Watering: Monitor the moisture levels in the soil and only water when the soil feels dry. Use a spray bottle or a watering can with a narrow spout to avoid overwatering. Be careful not to saturate the soil, as this can lead to root rot. Remember, terrariums are self-contained ecosystems and require less frequent watering than other potted plants.

2. Light: Place your terrarium in a spot with bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can cause overheating and damage the plants. Monitor the light conditions and adjust the placement of your terrarium accordingly. If necessary, supplement the light with artificial grow lights to ensure the plants receive adequate light for photosynthesis.

3. Pruning: Regularly inspect your terrarium for any dead or decaying plant parts and remove them promptly. This will help maintain the overall health and appearance of the terrarium. Pruning also prevents overcrowding and allows the plants to grow properly.

4. Cleaning: Keep your terrarium clean by removing any debris or dead leaves that may accumulate over time. Use a soft brush or damp cloth to wipe down the container and remove any dust or grime that may accumulate on the glass.


Building and maintaining a terrarium is a rewarding DIY project that brings a touch of nature into your home or office. By selecting the right container, layering the materials properly, choosing suitable plants, and providing the necessary care and maintenance, you can create a beautiful and thriving terrarium. Enjoy the process of building your own miniature ecosystem and watch your plants flourish!

Remember to always monitor the moisture levels, lighting conditions, and prune your plants as necessary to keep your terrarium healthy and vibrant.

Happy terrarium building!


Reference: ‘The 10 Best Terrarium Plants for Your Miniature Ecosystem’. (n.d.). Martha Stewart. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.marthastewart.com/best-terrarium-plants-7563241“>https://www.marthastewart.com/best-terrarium-plants-7563241](https://www.marthastewart.com/best-terrarium-plants-7563241)

Reference: ‘Choosing Terrarium Plants’. (n.d.). HGTV. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/choosing-terrarium-plants“>https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/choosing-terrarium-plants](https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/choosing-terrarium-plants)

Reference: ‘These 12 Terrarium Plants Will Look Adorable in Your Mini Garden’. (n.d.). Better Homes and Gardens. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/projects/top-plants-for-terrariums/“>https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/projects/top-plants-for-terrariums/](https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/projects/top-plants-for-terrariums/)

Reference: ‘Best plants for your terrarium: a comprehensive guide (2023)’. (n.d.). Plant Care for Beginners. Retrieved from <a href=”https://plantcareforbeginners.com/articles/terrarium-plants“>https://plantcareforbeginners.com/articles/terrarium-plants](https://plantcareforbeginners.com/articles/terrarium-plants)

Reference: ’25 Easy Terrarium Plants for Open or Closed Glass’. (n.d.). The Spruce. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.thespruce.com/great-terrarium-plants-847877“>https://www.thespruce.com/great-terrarium-plants-847877](https://www.thespruce.com/great-terrarium-plants-847877)

Reference: ‘How to Make a Terrarium – A Beginner’s Guide (Step-By-Step)’. (n.d.). Terrarium Tribe. Retrieved from <a href=”https://terrariumtribe.com/diy-terrarium-guide“>https://terrariumtribe.com/diy-terrarium-guide](https://terrariumtribe.com/diy-terrarium-guide)

Reference: ‘Terrarium Layers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building Success’. (n.d.). Terrarium Tribe. Retrieved from <a href=”https://terrariumtribe.com/terrarium-layers“>https://terrariumtribe.com/terrarium-layers](https://terrariumtribe.com/terrarium-layers)

Reference: ‘How to Make a Terrarium’. (n.d.). Architectural Digest. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-to-make-a-terrarium“>https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-to-make-a-terrarium](https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-to-make-a-terrarium)

Reference: ‘Easy Steps to Making Your Own Terrarium’. (n.d.). The Spruce. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-make-terrariums-848007“>https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-make-terrariums-848007](https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-make-terrariums-848007)

Reference: ‘Terrarium Care And Maintenance – Tips On Caring For A Terrarium’. (n.d.). Gardening Know How. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/terrarium-care-guide.htm“>https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/terrarium-care-guide.htm](https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/terrarium-care-guide.htm)

Reference: ‘A Complete Guide to Terrarium Maintenance | Vivarium Vibes’. (n.d.). Vivarium Vibes. Retrieved from <a href=”https://vivariumvibes.com/complete-guide-to-terrarium-maintenance/“>https://vivariumvibes.com/complete-guide-to-terrarium-maintenance/](https://vivariumvibes.com/complete-guide-to-terrarium-maintenance/)


In this blog post, we explored how to build a terrarium as a DIY project. We discussed the importance of choosing the right container, layering the materials for proper drainage, selecting suitable plants, and providing the necessary care and maintenance. By following the step-by-step instructions and considering the tips and ideas provided, you can create a beautiful and thriving terrarium that brings a touch of nature into your home or office. So, why not give it a try? Start building your own miniature ecosystem today and enjoy the benefits of a green and vibrant indoor environment.

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