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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Build a Terrarium

I built a terrarium yesterday! I know it’s been only one day but this little enclosed jar of plants has made me very happy.

My indoor cats like to devour anything plant or flower related. They will even go so far as rip into a bag of potting soil if I allow it within their reach. So, this was the perfect project to bring a little of the outdoors inside!

First I gathered all the items needed to build a terrarium:
  • A glass jar with a lid (mine was about 8 inches high by 4 1/2 inches around)
  • Potting soil (a Miracle Gro soil is ideal so that your plants are continuously fed for a period of time)
  • Activated carbon (this can be found in a pet store where aquarium supplies are kept)

  • Sheet moss and pebbles (found in garden centers or craft stores)
  • A few mini plants (can also be found at garden centers - ask for the terrarium plants)

The two smaller plants on the right are Baby Jade. The bottom left plant is Sedum and the top left plant is an Artillery Fern (non-creeping).

Make sure to wash the container you plan to use in hot water. Dry it completely and then get ready for layers!

First put a thin layer of pebbles in the bottom for drainage.

Next, sprinkle some of the activated carbon over the pebbles. This charcoal will keep the closed environment's air filtered and fresh.

Next, put a thin layer of moss. This moss acts as a filter so the soil will not slip down through the other layers.

Soil is next! Here is a outside view of all the layers in the jar.

Now come those cute little plants! Make sure to remove them from their pots and gently shake most of the dirt off so that the roots are exposed.

After you have planted your miniature garden, take a clean paintbrush to gently brush any dirt from the plants or sides of the container. You can add seashells, marbles, or any other tiny decoration. I added a few stones.

Wow! You have a finished terrarium now! Before closing the jar, spritz your plants and soil with some water and then place it in an area that does not get direct sunlight. An enclosed terrarium is an ecosystem unto itself so it will need very little watering and moderate sun.

I think this will be a fun gardening craft to do with the girls! I think another trip to the local gardening center for some miniature African Violets and a couple small jars is on our agenda!


  1. Great job! I was searching yesterday for different terrariums and I like the size of your container! :)

  2. This is lovely, I've been thinking about making a terrarium recently and this fits the bill perfectly. I've not heard about adding the carbon so that's great.

    Be warned though that the sedum may well take over. I had some in the garden once and it took years to get rid of it.

  3. Lovely! I am planning to do this with some minor insects or other small creatures, do you have any suggestions!

  4. Thanks for all the comments! MeganSloan, I was lucky enough to find the jar I used for my terrarium at a yard sale! I will keep an eye on the sedium, Emma, and make sure to keep it trimmed. To Daniel, I'm new to terrarium building so haven't experimented with insects or small creatures yet. I did find this FAQ on terrariums that you may find informative, though.

  5. This is a really cool idea! Try as I might to save them, ALL of my plants have been devoured/destroyed by my roommate's cats. I'm attempting a move to rectify the situation (unfortunately, plant death is only one of many reasons to move out!), but I wish I would have thought of this like a year ago. It also looks like it would make a fantastic housewarming gift for my gardening-impaired friends. Thanks!

  6. Love this idea. Do you think I could do it in an old aquarium?


I appreciate you stopping by! Thank you for commenting! xo ~Olivia