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Making a Terrarium

Terrariums are miniaturized plan habitats which have decorative value, as well as being useful in growing plants that require higher humidity than that of the average home environment. Almost any glass container can be turned into a terrarium, from a brandy snifter to a large fish tank. While they can be closed or open, closed terrariums will require periodic venting to remove excess moisture.


  • Horticultural charcoal
  • Drainage material: perlite, aquarium gravel, marble chips, etc.
  • Soil mix: a mixture of potting soil, coarse sand, and peat moss, or a packaged mix like Pro-mix
  • Plants: small-leaved, slow-growing plants work best; see recommendations below


  1. Cover the entire bottom of container with horticultural charcoal. The depth depends on size of container an average of 1/8" to 1/4"
  2. Add a layer of drainage material to protect plant roots from collected water. Again, depth depends on container size.
  3. Add at least a 2" layer of soil mix, more if container is deep enough.
  4. Remove plants from their ports and gently loosen the root ball - do not remove all to the soil.
  5. Scoop out a small depression in the soil layer and place plant's root ball into it. Smooth soil around the root ball keeping the original planting depth.
  6. The initial watering should be done by misting heavily. This will settle the soil around the roots, and will also clean the leaves and terrarium walls.


In an open terrarium, water whenever the soil feels dry when you press your fingers lightly into the soil.

A closed terrarium needs watering only when you fail to get any condensation on the glass at regular intervals. If condensation builds up enough to case water running down the glass, remove the lid for several hours to let the terrarium dry partially.

If plants become overgrown, use scissors or small pruners to clip them back to a reasonable size.

Feeding is required only when plants show signs associated with nutrient deficiencies, such as chlorotic or look yellow or lack new growth.

Recommended Plants:

  • Any small fern Club moss (Selaginella)
  • African violet Baby tears
  • Fittonia Parlor Palm
  • Small-leaved ivy Tillandsias
  • Creeping fig Venus Fly-trap
  • Aralias Any small carnivorous plants