How to build a terrarium

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is a collection of small, plants growing in a contained environment which is usually a glass structure. Incredibly beautiful, terrariums are also low maintenance ways to bring greenery and life into your home or office.

They’re popular with those that don’t have a lot of green space to play with, such as those who live in apartments or within city centres. They’re also ideal for those who have allergies and can’t have a lot of indoor plants and flowers in their home.

Building a terrarium from scratch can be such a fun and rewarding way to spend an afternoon.

Supplies you’ll need for your terrarium

Before you start thinking about building your very own terrarium you’ll need to get your supplies! Here are the things you need:

  • Container (with or without a lid & preferably transparent so you can see all the wonders inside! We sell empty terrarium containers that you can buy.)
  • Soil (any potting soil will do but you can get special mixes for succulents & cacti)
  • Small stones (small stones or pebbles will act as a base for your terrarium to ensure excess water doesn’t accumulate in the soil)
  • Some small tools (just to make putting it all together that little bit easier!)
  • Plants (and finally the all important greenery! We’ve dedicated a section below to the best type of plants to include in your terrarium)

build a terrarium add soil

What plants are best for a terrarium?

Because your plants are going in a container it’s best not to get plants that are too big. But it’s fine to have a mix, such as moss and air plants. So long as they fit.

Some of the best plants for terrariums include:

  • Air plants
  • Ferns
  • Moss
  • Starfish plants
  • Nerve plants
  • Succulents
  • Cacti

If you’re opting for succulents and cacti in your terrarium it’s best to get a container without a lid as these types of plants don’t like conditions to be too humid! If your container does have a lid don’t worry, you’ll just have to periodically remove it when things get too steamy!

terrarium plants

How to make your terrarium

Now you’ve got all your terrarium supplies you’re ready to get started on actually making it! And it’s really quite simple. Here are the four steps to making your terrarium:

Step 1: Add your stones.

First you’ll need to cover the bottom of your terrarium with your small stones or pebbles. The bottom layer of small pebbles will act as drainage for your terrarium and should be around 1-1.5 inches thick.

Step 2: Add a layer of potting soil.

When adding your potting soil you’ll need to add enough so that it’s deep enough for your plants to root into it. We recommend a layer that’s about 2.5 inches. 

Step 3: Add your plants.

It’s best to begin with your larger plants so you can get them in place first. You’ll need to remove the plant from its container and prune the roots as you would do when repotting any plant. Before you place your plant in the terrarium dig a hole in the soil that’s big enough to accommodate the plant’s roots. Then you’re ready to tuck your plant in! Then you can add the smaller plants. Work from the back towards the front but feel free to really make it your own. There’s no real right or wrong when it’s your terrarium! Just have fun with it.

Please be careful when handling cacti! 

Step 4: Finishing touches

Once your plants are all in place and you’re happy with the arrangement add another layer of pebbles to finish off your terrarium. It will also help to keep the plants in place. Now is also the time to add some personality. If you want to add fairy lights or little trinkets you can do.

Then all that’s left to do is find the perfect spot in your home for your terrarium to live!