How to Make a Terrarium

Seven simple steps for creating your own little green world

A terrarium is a great way to bring some life to your desk.

A terrarium is a great way to bring some life to your desk.


Starting a terrarium is a great way to beat the winter blahs. Once established, terrariums require very little maintenance, because condensation from the plants recycles to keep them moist and healthy.

Here are some simple steps to make it happen:

1. Select a location with bright, indirect light—egress (basement) or east-facing (morning light) windows work well.

2. Place small, clean pebbles and rocks in the bottom of the container to a depth of about one to two inches.

3. Sprinkle a light layer of charcoal on top of the pebbles. (You can get aquarium charcoal from a pet supply store.)

4. Add a layer of sphagnum moss to prevent the soil from settling into the rocks.

5. Add sterile potting soil. (Avoid using soil from your garden or from open bags—both might harbor insects.) The soil will settle a bit, but don’t fill the terrarium too close to the top—especially if you want to close the lid.

6. Place your plants in the terrarium. Make sure they’re small cuttings of plants that won’t grow too large. Good choices: air plants, grasses, seedlings from small tropical plants and small ferns.

7. Mist the works, place the top on and enjoy!

(Note: Try misting once a week at first, and then scale back to once a month. An open terrarium will require more frequent watering.)

Beth Stetenfeld is a McFarland-based editor, writer, master naturalist and creator of the gardening blog



Madison Magazine April 2014 - April 2014 $19.95 for one year - Subscribe today