How To Make A Terrarium

June 8th, 2010 Comments Off

Finished terrarium

Here is the long awaited tutorial for making a terrarium.  Now, I’m not a garden expert or anything.  So please don’t take this as THE authority on terrariums.  If you want the in’s and out’s of a terrarium, click here.

This is my version and what I’ve come to know on how to make a nice looking and low maintenance terrarium.  Enjoy!

Basic material


  • a glass bowl or container (with or without a lid)
  • activated carbon (I got mine at a pet store in the fish section)
  • a fresh bag of potting soil (and sand if you’re planting cacti)
  • stones/gravel
  • small succulent or tropical plants (don’t mix them)



First, add the stones/gravel to the bottom of your container for drainage.  I added about 1 inch or so.


Activated carbon

Then I added some activated carbon.  I couldn’t find any at my local hardware/garden store so I went to the pet store knowing they have it since my husband has an aquarium. 

The activated carbon is for eliminating chemicals that may be toxic to plants in the closed terrarium.  Since I’m using an open bowl in this case, it’s not as crucial to have a lot of carbon.


Activated carbon closed

I did put about half inch’s worth of activated carbon in my closed terrariums. 



For succulent plants like cacti, you should mix half potting soil with half sand.  (I got the sand from my daughter’s sandbox.) 

For tropical plants, use just the potting soil.

Then layer about 2 to 3 inches on top of the activated carbon.



Then loosen the root of the plant gently and get rid of excess soil that came with the plant.

Dig a hole in the soil/sand mix in your container and plant your plant.  Then cover it up with the soil mix and gently tap the soil down.

NOTES: Make sure you don’t mix different types of plants together in the same container –  like cactus with African violet.  The plants should have the same level of light and water needs.


Finished terrarium

Spray some water into the bowl.  And feel free to decorate it with moss (live or dried), branches, birds, nests, rocks, mushrooms, gnomes, etc.

For succulent open terrariums, just water every couple of weeks.  For closed tropical terrariums, you don’t really have to worry about watering for a few months. 

You’re done!


Feel free to ask questions and comment with your experience of terrariums since I’m not a garden expert!


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