Crafts Crafts

Making Terrariums

One of Jim’s Christmas gifts this year was homemade terrariums. He loves indoor plants, but isn’t always very good at taking proper care of them. Terrariums are nice because, if they are enclosed (with a lid or have a glass cloche over them) they create their own moisture and pretty much take care of themselves.

First I started at my favorite store, Home Goods. There I found some great containers – even these really big ones – for less than $20 each. Then I headed to the local gardening center and found a great assortment of smaller terrarium-suited plants, like ferns and orchids, live moss and other moisture-loving flowers. I also bought some small pebbles that I washed carefully in a colander, charcoal (not the kind you use in your grill, but the horticultural kind you’ll find at a gardening center), and some good-quality potting soil.

Wash your containers and dry them out carefully and assemble all of your “ingredients” on a large work area.

Start with a layer of the horticultural charcoal at the base of the container. The charcoal is pretty dusty, so pour it into the container as carefully as you can. You only need a thin layer of this. With your hands smooth out the charcoal so it is evenly distributed at the base of the container. Then add a slightly thicker layer of the washed pebbles, and again smooth them out to an even layer with your hands.

Then, again being careful to try and keep it off the sides of the container, place a thicker layer of the potting soil over the charcoal and pebble layers. Smooth out with your hands to form an even layer.

Now it’s time to create your terrariums. I found even some of the tiny plants that I bought had to be split into two or even three sections to have them properly fit into the containers and still allow room for other plants, so don’t be afraid to divide plants up. When you have adequately filled and arranged everything to your liking carefully fill around the plants with more potting soil. I added live moss to cover the soil around the plants. This can be done by just tearing the moss into the sizes you need to work it in around the plants and fitting it together like a jigsaw puzzle. Then water, but be careful not to overwater and flood the container.

Using a spray bottle filled with water I washed down the sides of the containers to get rid of any residue from the charcoal, pebbles or dirt. Now one container I got was a little too small for the height of the plants, so that one had to remain ‘lidless’, but I like the combination of lids and no lids.

I’d also bought a really beautiful orchid that was too tall or large for any of the containers I had, so off to Home Goods I went again and found the perfect one. This one did not have a lid either, but the size and shape were perfect.

Assemble all your "ingredients" before starting.

These were a pretty simple project that are doing really well in his office. The orchid, over 2 months later, still looks amazing. The lidded containers create this moist, humid environment and are thriving. The two with no lids are thriving too. If you’ve got a plant lover in your life, think about this for the next gift-giving occasion.


  1. Can I pay you to make one or two of these for me? I kill orchids, but a lidded one might have a chance in the house.

    • I’d be happy to make one for you. I actually think the orchid prefers it’s non-lidded environment. And I am not kidding when I say I potted this thing around December 15th and I saw it last week and it still looks amazing.

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