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How to Make Your Own Terrarium

building a terrarium

Terrariums are a great, low-cost way to add greenery to your home. And if you choose the right plants, you can get away with forgetting to water them once in a while, making this the perfect greenery for those without a green thumb!

In this article you’ll learn how to make your own terrarium, how to choose the right soil and plants for your terrarium and how to maintain your terrarium for years to come.

Materials needed to build a terrarium

There are plenty of beautiful terrariums for purchase but your indoor garden can look just as beautiful in a large clean glass jar, vase or even an old fish tank! Take a peek in the back of your kitchen cupboards, you might just find that you have the perfect vessel already.

For a medium-sized terrarium, you’ll also need:

  • 3-4 handfuls of inexpensive pebbles (for drainage)
  • One small bag of succulent or cactus potting soil
  • One small bag of charcoal
  • One bag of decorative rocks or pebbles

You can pick these up online or at your local garden store.

You’ll also need a spoon and if you’re choosing cactus plants, have a small brush to hand and a few sheets of paper towels.

How to choose the right plants for your terrarium

The best plants for your terrarium are those that are drought-tolerant like succulents and cacti. If you have a green-fingered friend, it’s a good idea to ask if they might have cuttings of their plants that you could use. Succulents root themselves very easily which makes them great for sharing.

If not, choose small 2” cacti and succulents from your local garden store, these shouldn’t set you back more than $3 or $4. You’ll want to plan for around 1 plant per inch of container diameter. There is a general rule in garden design that odd numbers look better grouped together so go for 3, 5 or 7 plants for best results.

NOTE ON CACTI: When you are planting cacti, wrap them in a layer or two of paper towel to protect your fingers from prickly prickles! If you get soil stuck onto the spines of the plant, use a small brush to remove it.

How to build a terrarium

  1.  Start by making sure that your container is clean and dry. Then add a layer of pebbles to cover the base of the container.
  2. Add a layer of charcoal on top of the pebbles. This will protect your terrarium from smelling if the soil gets too damp and humid.
  3. Next add a layer of soil using your spoon. This layer will need to be at least 2 inches deep to allow your plants to root down. Be sure to use succulent or cactus soil which is mixed with sand and pumice to aid drainage.
  4. Gather you plants and start by removing the largest from its container and dust any excess soil from the roots. Use the end of your spoon to make a hole in the soil big enough for the roots to fit and pop your plant inside. You can continue using your spoon to compact the soil around the plant to make sure that it is comfortably nestled in there.
  5. Continue planting your other plants in the same way, working from largest to smallest until you are happy with the design.
  6. Finally, add a layer of decorative pebbles around each of the plants to cover the soil completely.
  7. Stand back and admire your handy-work. You made your own terrarium!

Tips for maintaining your terrarium

Your terrarium will be happiest in bright indirect sunlight. In a north-facing window or near an east facing window is best.

Knowing when to water your terrarium can be a conundrum so let the leaves tell you when it's time by allowing them to pucker slightly. You can also pop your finger into the soil every few weeks, when it feels almost completely dry, it’s time to give your plants a drink. Water sparingly around the base of each plant using a watering can or a spray bottle.

You can occasionally mist your terrarium to create humidity if you want to - your plants will appreciate the extra TLC but it’s not an essential part of looking after your indoor garden.

And that’s it! We’d love to see how your terrarium turns out, share your project with us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #InvestInYourLifestyle

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