The first step of making a terrarium is to gather your supplies. If you have not done this yet, check out Step 1 that outlines the materials you will need:
How to Make a Terrarium – Step 1, Collecting Your Materials
Making Your Terrarium
Now that you have collected everything you will need, assembling your terrarium is the easy part!
- Clean your container thoroughly to remove any bacteria
- Add drainage material. Since your terrarium has a closed bottom and doesn’t allow drainage, it’s important to keep standing water away from your plants roots. Add a layer of gravel, at least an inch or two thick.
- On top of the gravel, sprinkle a layer of Charcoal. The charcoal will keep your soil fresh and will prevent odors.
- Next you can add a layer of spaghnum moss or a piece of screen to keep the potting soil from mixing down into your rocks. This is optional but it does look nice.
- Add your potting soil. Your container will determine how much soil you can include, but you will need at least a couple inches.
- Arrange your plants. Do this outside of the container first as it is much easier to move them arround until you find the arrangement you like best.
- As you take each plant out of its pot try to gently tease the roots apart, removing some of the excess soil. You may find that they are root bound (the roots ran out of room so they are tightly coiled around the bottom of the pot) in which case you will want to trim off some of the extra roots. Pruning the roots can be beneficial as it may slow the plant’s growth, but if you prune too severely you could do serious damage to the plant; try not to remove more than 1/3 of the roots to be safe.
- Plant your terrarium, starting with your largest plant. Make a hole for each plant, place your plant in the hole and then scoop the potting soil back over the roots, patting it down gently.
- After all of the plants are in place, add moss around your plants to complete the look. Now you can also add decorations if desired. For inspiration check out our gallery of great terrarium decorations.
- Once your terrarium looks just like you want, water it. Use a gentle stream of water from a sink spray hose or a spray bottle. Don’t soak it; you want it to be damp, not sopping wet. This is also a good opportunity to spray the sides and wipe off any dirt that stuck during planting.
Maintain Your Terrarium
Check on your terrarium once a week. If the soil feels dry, water it until it is damp. If you have a closed terrarium watch for excess moisture gathering on the glass; remove the top and air it out until the humidity drops.
After a few weeks of monitoring, you will know how often to water your terrarium and you may be able to ignore it for weeks at a time. Just make sure to inspect your plants on a regular basis and remove any dead or yellowing leaves. When plants grow too large you can prune them back or replace them with a smaller plant.