How to Make a Creative Terrarium

  • Tiny worlds under glass

    Tiny worlds under glass

    With the right ingredients, you can make a terrarium that remains fresh long after you’ve closed the lid on the scene. Click or tap ahead for instructions.

  • Step 1: Gather materials

    Step 1: Gather materials

    Before getting started on your tiny terrarium, you’ll need:

    • One clear glass container with an opening large enough to insert plants
    • Clean ½- to  ¾-inch pebbles
    • Dried sphagnum moss
    • A dowel for tamping
    • Moistened potting soil
    • A wooden spoon
    • Terrarium plants such as ferns, mini-philodendrons and palm seedlings
    • Oversize tweezers • Lichen, stones, driftwood, shells, bits of nature
    • Figurines (let your fantasy flow!)
    • Turkey baster or small measuring cup 

  • Step Two: Create a base

    Step 2: Create a base

    Insert a 1- to 2- inch layer (depending on the size of the glassware) of pebbles into the base of the container. 

  • Step three: Moisten

    Step 3: Moisten

    Fully moisten the sphagnum moss in a bowl and wring out the excess water. 

  • Step four: Insert sphagnum

    Step 4: Insert sphagnum

    Insert a thin layer of sphagnum moss into the container and tamp it down with a dowel. 

  • Step five: Spoon in soil

    Step 5: Spoon in soil

    Spoon 1 inch of moistened soil into the container, tamping it down.

  • Step 6: Place plants

    Step 6: Place plants

    Unpot one of your mini plants, and massage the roots to loosen them before inserting the plant into the container with a pair of tweezers. Carefully place it firmly into the soil and repeat with additional plants to create the greenery. Don’t crowd the plants; leave some room between each one for them to grow. 

  • Step 7: Add soil

    Step 7: Add soil

    Add soil to fill in gaps and tamp it to fully firm the plants in place.

  • Step 8: Create a scene

    Step 8: Create a scene

    With tweezers, insert lichen, stones, twigs and natural objects as well as figurines to create a scene. 

  • Slide 9: Seal the deal

    Step 9: Seal the deal

    Using a turkey baster or small measuring cup, add water to the terrarium until the soil is moist (but not soggy) and seal it with the stopper or lid. (You can also leave the terrarium open, but you’ll need to mist it more frequently.)

    Put your terrarium where it will get enough light to satisfy the plants’ needs, but keep it out of direct sun, which will overheat the garden. Check moisture levels periodically, and mist if your terrarium needs water. Plants should not dry out, but they also shouldn’t be overwatered. If spots of mold or mildew appear, your garden has too much moisture; remove or partially open the lid for two or three days to improve air circulation.