Get Your Hands Dirty! (building a terrarium)

final plants_April 13, 2015

final plants_April 13, 2015It’s my favorite time of year! This past weekend the entire downtown or our cute little city was transformed into a garden extravaganza! Vendors from all over the state come annually for this huge flower and garden festival and I just get so excited! I go up and down the streets looking at all the beautiful plants and every year I purchase new “friends” for the garden.

This year I happened upon a booth with terrariums. I was in awe at how beautiful they were and thought, “I want to make one of those!” A couple booths down, I found a vendor who was selling miniature sized plants intended for terrariums. I made a selection of ferns and other adorable plants and set off to get my hands dirty, giddy with the excitement of building my own indoor garden.

Building a terrarium took a little bit of research, and I had to purchase some supplies, but overall it was very easy and would be super fun to do with kids. Really, any glass container (even a mason jar) can be used to create these mini greenhouses. Now that I have the supplies too, I intend to make more as gifts! I am no expert, by any means, and I am sure I have plenty more to learn, but I want to share with you how easy, fun, and rewarding this indoor gardening project is!


glass container, gravel, activated charcoal, potting soil, perlite (optional), small terrarium plants

glass container, gravel, activated charcoal, potting soil, perlite (optional), small terrarium plants

  • A glass container or terrarium (I purchased mine at IKEA and had to super glue the house to the bottom tray)
  • Gravel (I bought inexpensive fish aquarium gravel)
  • Activated charcoal/ carbon (also purchased in the fish aquarium section)
  • Potting soil
  • Perlite (optional)
  • An assortment of plants (I made a tropical plant terrarium, but you can make a succulent terrarium with cactus soil instead)

Step One:

Make sure your glass container is clean, you don’t want any bacteria to be in there to cause your plants to potentially get sick.

Layer in a 1/2″-2″ of gravel. This will keep the roots from getting too much water.

gravel_April 13, 2015

add a 1/2″-2″ layer of gravel to the bottom of your container


Step Two:

Sprinkle a layer of activated charcoal/ carbon on top of the gravel. Activated charcoal acts as a filter and odorizer. It will help with the “earthy” smell (which I actually like).

activated carbon_April 13, 2015

sprinkle in a layer of activated charcoal on top of the gravel


Step Three:

I chose to mix in some perlite with my potting soil because it allows the soil to be oxygenated, moist, and provides drainage as well. This is an optional step. Layer in enough soil into your container so that you  can cover the roots of your little plant friends.

Arrange your plants in whatever way makes sense according to the way the plants grow (tall, bushy, ground cover, etc).

arranging terrarium_April 13, 2015

arrange your plants in a way that makes sense for growth



Step Four:

Sprinkle in some water, clean the glass, and watch all of your little plant friends thrive as they say, “thank you!” for giving them a happy new home!

finished terrarium. the plants are so happy!

finished terrarium. the plants are so happy!

To maintain your terrarium, you will need to water occasionally. Check on your plants and soil moisture level every week, but because you have created a humid environment, you want to make sure not to over water so that your plants don’t get root-rot. Also, keep your terrarium in indirect light; too much light can cause your plants to sunburn or overheat and get sad. If you see condensation inside the terrarium, open the lid to allow the moisture and gasses to evaporate before closing again. As your plants continue to grow, you will need to “pinch back” or trim leaves to keep the plants small. Enjoy! 😉

*If you plan to do this project with children, take the opportunity to discuss what an eco-system is and learn about the water cycle.

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blog portrait_thumbnail3hi! i’m trish, and welcome to my cozy home on the internet. i am an artist, art teacher, life-long-learner, and lover of life. there is not much i don’t love. some of my many favorites include creating with my hands, the color green, birds, smiling, and outdoor adventures. some of my not so favorite things include spiders, bell peppers, and math. (more...)

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