How to Create a Terrarium

April 30 2017, 5:17pm

Leave it to walking by a florist to ignite an interest in arranging air plants. It took receiving my first terrarium to start a hobby in creating them.


Please someone, don't send me a levitating moss ball or I might... actually... no, back to the topic at hand!

As I've discovered, creating a terrarium is very easy. It requires a little planning and effort—mostly to acquire materials—but the results are well worth it.

Let's take a deeper look.

The Ingredient List

Like any good recipe, a great terrarium requires a few items. Here's what you'll need:

  • Container
  • Small pebbles (around 3/5ths of an inch to 1/2 in size)
  • Activated charcoal/carbon (I used this kind)
  • Succulent soil (any kind of Cactus soil also works. This is the bag I have).
  • Succulents
  • Trowel (a spoon also works)
  • Newspaper
  • Gardening gloves
  • Decorative sand or glass (optional)
  • Driftwood, moss, rocks (optional)

When acquiring a vessel for your terrarium, there are a few things you'll want to take into consideration:


First, how tall will the plants inside be when they are planted and how tall will they get? Roots can be trimmed, making planting a little easier, but if a plant is going to quickly grow out of its container, it might present another set of problems. Knowing more about your plants will help you decide upon a container that works well.

The other thing to consider is the overall shape of the container. Is it too skinny? Too thick? Too shallow? Choosing the plants you want can help greatly, but even then some bowls can be too extreme for awesome terrariums. Too skinny, for instance, and it might be hard to plant. Too shallow, and it might be difficult for plants to take root.

Materials Acquired

Once you have all the items you need, free up a nice open table space. Line the table with newspaper (as creating terrariums can get a little messy) and arrange all of your materials within reach of your container.

  1. Lay the pebbles first. You'll want to gently put 1 to 2 inches at the bottom of your container to help with drainage.

Pro tip: You can check this area to see if your terrarium needs more water. If it's dry then give your terrarium a drink.

  1. Once you've finished adding the rocks, add the activated charcoal. This layer helps with drainage and filtration. You should add just enough so that there is a thin layer on top of the pebbles.

  2. Time to place the soil in. A small trowel or even a spoon can help you with this step. You'll want enough soil so that the roots of your plants are covered.

Have any sand or small gravel designs you want to add in? You can insert these in as you're adding your soil. Place your layered design around the edges of a clear container so that they can be seen. Because only the outside is exposed, you just need to add material to the parts where the soil would touch the container. The rest can be filled in with soil or plants.

  1. When you're finished playing around with dirt, you're ready to add your plants. Take the plants out of their pots, break up the soil around the roots, cut roots where appropriate, dig a hole for the plants, and plant them. Make sure that holes created in this way are filled in and that a little more soil is added to gently pack in the plant and keep it from uprooting.

  2. Last but not least, add any decoration to your terrarium. Driftwood, moss, characters, and larger rocks are good items to further help bring your terrarium to life.


Follow the guidelines for your plants in terms of watering and sunlight exposure to ensure your terrarium grows well. Some containers might impact things like watering, but with a little flexibility and testing, you'll be well on your way to having something people will talk about.

Show off what you've created. Would love to see your creativity

PS: If you need any inspiration to get started, I've been curating a Pinterest board for terrariums.