Do It Yourself Terrarium – A Step-By-Step Guide

Usually, you will look to go for a do it yourself terrarium if you are limited on space. You can place these mini gardens on your tables and counters or wherever you want them. They will allow you to perk up your indoor space pretty well. These gardens are fun and decorative, and you can conveniently look after them. They look so adorable that you can even gift them to someone.

This guide is for all those green thumbs out there who want to make the best available space. But what is this terrarium?

What’s a terrarium?

What is Terrarium

It’s a collection of small-sized decorative plants and flowers that are growing inside an enclosed environment. The containers in which you place your plants are usually transparent.

The container needs to have an opening that should be big enough for you to reach out to every plant inside. These can look unique, and in this guide, we will help you make these terrariums for your indoor space.

Do it yourself Terrarium Guide

Supplies you need:

●     Glass vessel

Glass vessels for Terrarium

You will require some glass vessels for this, and the good thing is there are different types of containers available for you to choose from. Just be sure that the container you want to use is transparent so you can see what’s going on inside.

●     Small-sized stone and pebbles

stone and pebbles fro terrarium

Small pebbles and stones will form the base of your do it yourself terrarium. They will drain the water for the roots of the plants to make sure to prevent any excess water from staying on the surface, causing rotting.

●     Activated charcoal

This is something that you won’t need much. You only have to lay a thin layer to keep the water fresh and prevent bacterial growth.

●     Potting soil

It will act as an integral component in your do it yourself terrarium. You can go for layering almost any kind of soil. But if you are planting special types of plants like succulents or cacti, special mixes are available.

●     Plants

Of course, you need plants too because it would only be a soil container for you without the greenery. You can go with your favorite plants but make sure to choose pint-sized ones only. We will guide you about this in a bit.

●     Small gardening tools

Having those small handy tools for gardening is a must for situating all your plants and other items in your do it yourself terrarium.

The Process

Charcoal powder for terrarium
  • You need to begin by covering the bottom of your do it yourself terrarium with at least a half-an-inch thick layer of those pebbles and stones. These pebbles and stones will work as drainage for your plants within your terrarium.
  • Now add a later if activated charcoal inside your terrarium, but make sure it’s very thin. This layer will keep your water fresh for the plants and fend off any bacterial development within your terrarium.
Potting soil for terrarium
  • The next step is to add some potting soil. You can use any mix for this purpose, but you can go with the specialized mixes if you are looking to grow succulents or cacti. This layer needs to be deep enough to make sure your plants’ roots stay inside it. It needs to be around 2.5-inch in thickness. You can alter the consistency of this layer based on the size of your container too.
  • The next step involves adding your plants. You can begin by going with your largest plant first. Take it out of its container, and don’t forget to prune the roots just like you do each time when repotting. After that, make a hole in your soil layer that is big enough to fit all the roots in. Nestle the plant within the soil by working from the back to the front if you do it yourself terrarium. There is no reasoning associated with the design of your terrarium. You can play around and have fun with your arrangement.
  • When you are done planting all your plants, finish the look by adding some more pebbles. You can also add some miniature trinkets or gnomes to give your terrarium a bit of a personality.

Best Do it yourself Terrarium Plants

DIY Terrarium Plants

Thinking about the best types of plants to choose from? When looking for plants that you can use in your do it yourself terrarium, you need to keep a few things in your mind.

You need to make sure the plants you choose to do it yourself terrarium are small in size. You don’t want them to touch the walls of your terrarium from the inside, or your container will look cramped up.

Be sure to go for the plants that can handle humidity very well. Because only such types of plants are going to thrive inside the container. If you are looking to go with cacti succulents, you can use a container with a small window in it. The idea is to provide them with an environment that mimics the natural one.

The best plants to go for are:

  • Assorted cacti
  • Assorted succulents
  • Air plants
  • Starfish plant
  • Moon Valley
  • Aloe
  • Baby’s tears
  • Friendship plant
  • Pothos
  • Moss
  • Ivy
  • Nerve plant
  • Prayer plant
  • Thyme
  • Sedum
  • Spider fern

Container Options

Container options for terrarium

So, what are different container options? Choosing the right kind of container is as essential as choosing the right type of plants to do it yourself terrarium. This is where you can get very creative with the style of your container.

The only real requirement you need to be careful about is that your container needs to be either made of plastic or glass. You may go for a covered container or an open one. There are no issues with the shapes of these containers as well.

You can even go for your salt shaker or a large container that you can place on your tabletop like a fishbowl. There are open and closed containers you can choose from. Open containers are great for sunlight-loving plants, while closed containers are better for humidity-loving plants. 

Open terrariums don’t come with a top that can allow water evaporation or airflow. These terrariums must be watered regularly, and you can place them in direct sunlight if you want.

On the other hand, a closed terrarium has a lid on it that can trap air and moisture inside it. These terrariums can last for a long time, and you won’t even have to open them.

Some can even last for decades without opening. This is because they can create their ecosystem within the containers. But you need to be careful, so don’t place them in direct sunlight.

Where Can I Find the Right Terrarium?

You might be asking what type of container you should go for? There are no hard and fast rules when choosing the container or finding the right one you can use.

You can pick any container available in your home. Just make sure it’s transparent and made of transparent glass or plastic.

However, if you don’t have any options available at your home, you can always visit your local shop and its home and decor section. But the better option for you is buying a used container.

For this, you need to visit flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales. These places are great for finding some of the best options for your do it yourself terrarium containers. These places are the best because they are not very expensive.

The shape of the container doesn’t need to be any specific either. You may go with a cylindrical beaker or a globe bowl.

Here are some do it yourself terrarium container ideas for you to explore.

  • Cloche
  • Bottle
  • Coffee carafe
  • Bowl
  • Jug
  • Jar
  • Glass
  • Cup
  • Lightbulb
  • Lantern
  • Lamp
  • Teapot
  • Tabletop greenhouse
  • Pepper or salt shaker
  • Pitcher

Maintenance of Your Do it yourself Terrarium

Maintenance for terrarium

You might be thinking, does it need any maintenance? Well, it’s not just about making your do it yourself terrarium. You need to take care of it as well. It’s a fragile little ecosystem that might not need much of your attention, but at times it does.

  • You need to check the soils and see if it’s dry or not. It’s dry, so you need to water it. Fully or partially terrariums tend to retain water. So, you will only have to check it around once in a while.
  • You also need to check your closed terrarium for any condensation signs. If there are some condensation signs, you need to take off the lid and allow some outer air to cover it entirely. After that, you can leave the lid off until you see the condensation disappearing. You will have to do this if you have accidentally or unknowingly added too much water.
  • You need to pull off those damaged or yellowing leaves and prune your plants properly if you see they are growing too fast.
  • Do not use any fertilizers as these fertilizers will make the plants grow too quickly to fit the space available.
  • Also, make sure you don’t use your glass cleaner inside your container. However, you can use it outside, especially if the container is closed.

Do it yourself Terrarium Tips

When you are done making your terrarium, you have to make sure you take proper care. Water and sunlight are both crucial for the overall success of your do it yourself terrarium.

  • Ensure that you lightly water the base of your terrarium every couple of weeks or whenever you see the soil is dried out.
  • You also need to place your terrarium in a spot with plenty of indirect but bright sunlight.
  • Make sure to use gloves when handling cacti because it’s a prickly plant.
  • Terrariums look great when you place them among a range of different house plants. You can also hang them if you want.
  • Both plastic and glass containers can be used for this purpose. Glass containers will be cheaper and plastic containers will be more durable.
  • Open containers work well for the plants that love the sun, while closed containers work better for humidity-loving plants.
  • You can use different types of containers available in your home and use them in different ways.
  • Go for slow-growing plants to prevent any overcrowding and make sure they are small enough and have ample space to grow without touching each other.
  • You can mist your terrarium daily with a spray bottle. And if you have an open terrarium, then you can weekly water the plants. Don’t overwater the plants, and the solid should remain barely most. If you have a closed terrarium, it might not need any watering, except a few times.
  • Prevent your plants from direct sunlight, or they will get cooked.
  • Carry on with the pruning and remove any dead foliage that might start causing rotting.


What kind of container is best suited for a do it yourself terrarium?

You don’t need to be very specific when it comes to choosing your container. You can go with any container as long as it is made of glass or plastic and is entirely transparent.

Is glass better than plastic?

The glass would be a better option for you to consider, especially if you don’t have a container made of BPA-free plastic, which can be harmful to the plants with UV radiation.

Can I make my terrariums without using charcoal?

You can make your do it yourself terrarium without activated charcoal, and it will function normally. It’s there to prevent any bacterial growth over time, and that’s precisely why it would be better for you to use it.

Can I go for sand in my terrarium?

Yes, you can use a layer of sand in your do it yourself terrarium. It would be more of a decorative element. You can hide the roots in your terrarium with sand too.

What should be right at the bottom of the terrarium?

A layer of small pebbles and stones need to be right at the bottom of your terrarium. They will drain water to reach the roots to ensure that excess water is not staying on top.


So, did you find anything complicated about it? A do it yourself terrarium looks marvelous when you do it right. But there is not much complication involved in the process as well. You need to have the right kind of container and tools to place your plants inside the container.

You don’t have to take care of your little garden either. Just water it in a timely fashion after looking that the solid isn’t bone dry. You can perk up any indoor space with these beautiful mini gardens with ease.

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