How to Make Your Own Terrarium


Create your own miniature world full of lush and beautiful plants!  Terrariums are low maintenance and easy to make with just a few basic supplies. Start with a clear glass container, rocks, pebbles, charcoal, potting soil, plants, and other any other decorative or ornamental items you want to add.

Terrariums are usually made in a sealable glass container with soil and plants, and can be opened for maintenance. Closed terrariums creative a unique environment - the sealed glass container allows both heat and light to enter, creating a small water cycle for your plants. The moisture from the soil and the plants evaporates with the elevated temperature and condenses on the walls of the container, then falls back to the plants and soil.  This creates an ideal environment for growing plants with a constant supply of water.

Open glass containers can be used for terrariums, and are ideal for plants that prefer dry conditions, such as cacti and succulents.

How to Create a Terrarium

Choose a Container

Start with a clear glass open-top vase, jar, bowl, or any other interesting glass container you have lying around. Wash with hot soapy water and dry completely.


Fill the bottom of your container with ½” to 2” of rocks or pebbles to collect the water drainage.  The depth will depend on the size of your container. It's important to avoid standing water at the bottom to ensure your plants continue to thrive.


Next, spread a layer of activated charcoal. This will help reduce bacteria, fungi and odors, improving the quality of your mini world.


Add a layer of soil - enough to be able to accommodate the root ball of your plants. Use potting soil, or even better, cactus soil which has a higher content of sand and will provide better drainage. 


Mini tropicals are ideal for terrariums because they can tolerate high humidity. Cacti and succulents need dry conditions to survive and cannot be placed in an enclosed container. Instead, plant them in a container with a wide opening at the top for good air circulation. Now it's time to start planting! Dust excess soil off the roots, make a hole in the soil and place your plant inside.  Tamp down the soil firmly to hold it in place, and add more soil around the base of the plant if necessary.


Add a layer of sand, moss, and rocks, then finish off when any other decorative touches to enhance the look. Use your imagination and your own style to personalize!


Be sure not to overwater your plants as this will lead to decay. Don't water until it settles on the bottom - this is too much. Add just enough to wet the soil.

Terrarium Care

Keep an eye on your terrarium and water sparingly when the soil becomes dry. If you've used a closed lid and water is dripping down from the top, open the lid to let some evaporate. You may need to add more if it looks parched. You shouldn’t need to water very often.

When the plants start to grow too big for its space, pinch back the leaves to keep them small. You may need to replace plants from time to time. If leaves die or wilt, remove them from the terrarium immediately to maintain the health of the little eco system. 

Don’t place in direct sunlight. These are essentially little greenhouses and direct sunlight through the glass will trap heat and scorch the plants. Place in indirect light for best results.

For More Information

Art's Nursery sells all the supplies you need to make your own personal terrarium.  Come and visit us at to see our selection and talk to our knowledgeable staff. If you’re making a special trip, please call ahead to confirm availability: 604.882.1201.

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