The Perfect Guide to Make A Terrarium
Posted by Shu Wen Saturday 8 Dec 2018
Terrarium is back on trend! This plant has come a long way with a long history way back in the Victorian era when a plant collector named Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward accidentally raised a fern spore into a plant under glass. He was amazed by it and expand the concept from there. These small little greens are perfect for those who love to garden and yet hope to have plants with less maintenance, space-saving and pretty.

What you need to know about terrarium

Terrarium are plants that grown in a sealed glass containers for decorative purposes. In other words, terrarium are like an aquarium but for plants. These plants are like mini greenhouse that grow in a unique environment where the sealed glass helps in filtering the sunlight that gives the consistent warmth needed. When it is sealed, the moisture in the terrarium is sustained and recycled through evaporation, ensuring the plants get the substantial moisture needed which makes them a low-maintenance plant. However, excess moisture has to be removed by opening the lid once every week for the completely sealed terrarium.

Why are they trending?

These terrariums are all the rage for some reasons. First of all, they are absolutely pretty and cute in their mini size that allows to be displayed on desk, countertops and any indoor space like home and office, certainly space saving.

Their aesthetic look adds a perfect touch to any interiors both modern and minimalist styles.

They can self-sustain and requires low maintenance which is perfect for those who does not have green fingers and for those who wish to bring in some natural beauty and greeneries to their home and office.

Step 1:
Open or closed terrarium?

There are open and closed terrariums depending on the types of plants you used in them. Some plants grow well in moist condition while some requires constant air flow.

For open terrarium
- Succulents, Cacti and Air plant because they love dry surroundings that offer continuous airflow

- the terrarium do not have a lid

Closed terrarium
- Ferns and moss

- They thrive in moist and humid conditions. Some moss is submerged into water as well.

Open mouth glass
- Carnivorous plants like venus flytrap, pitcher pants, sundew plants

- Most of the carnivorous plants enjoy moist and humid surroundings. With the small opening, it enables them to obtain some sunlight and easy access to food.

TIPS: When choosing the type of plant, the ideal ones are plants that has slow growth rate. If you wish to have a mixture of plant types, make sure you pick the ones with same watering needs.

As you select the container, make sure that your plant size fits in them. You can totally go creative with anything you have at home from unused teapots to glass containers. Make sure they are transparent and enables your beautiful plants to see through.

Step 2:
How to make them

Materials you need:

Each layer serves its purpose to ensure a healthy growing environment for the plants.

- Pebbles or small stones: Serve as the base of your terrarium for water drainage of the roots. This helps to ensure that the soil does not contain excess water and prevent rotting. In other words, it helps to keep your plant healthier and live longer.

- Activated charcoal: A thin layer of activated charcoal helps to fend off bacteria and mold. It also helps to filter the air and keeps things fresh in the closed environment.

- Potting Soil - This is a vital layer for your terrarium. Different types of plant prefers different types of soil. If you are going for cacti or succulents, look for special mixes for them as they don't do well in overly moist soil.

- Plants - pick your favourite kind of plant.

- Small gardening tools / herbs snip


1. Once you have gathered all the materials, start with the first layer which is the pebbles or small rocks. Add them to about half to one inch.

2. Add the next layer of charcoal for about half to an inch.

3. Then, add the final layer of potting soil (the thickest layer). You would need a substantial thickness of soil for the plants to root into it. Add about 2 to 2 and a half inch of soil. (depending on the roots of your plant, you can add more if needed)

4. Add your plant. Brush off the soil of your plant as you remove them from the container. Then nestle it into hole that you have created. Ensure that the hole is big enough to fit the roots. Then, lightly pack the soil.

TIPS: Start with the bigger size plant and then work towards the smaller ones. Give each plant some space and ensure that they are not in contact with each other or the glass.

5. Finally you can jazz it up with decorative items like figurines, stones or small pebbles.

Step 3:

Care and Maintenance

The essentials in maintaining your terrarium is water and sunlight.


For open terrarium:

- Since they are opened, their soil dries up faster which require more frequent watering about once a week or when the leaves are dropping.

For closed terrarium:

- As it is closed, it provides constant moisture and requires watering only every fortnight or every month. Let it breathe by opening the lid every couple of weeks (for circulation).


- Direct sunlight
- Indirect sunlight
- Artificial light

For open terrarium:

Cacti and succulent love lots of sunlight (about 4-6 hours). So feel free to expose them with direct sunlight.

For closed terrarium:

It would be ideal to place your closed terrarium in space with indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight as the glass will intensify the sun rays and burn your plant.

Artificial light

If your plants are placed in areas that do not provide sufficient sunlight or maybe during the winter months, artificial light provides the extra little help. Artificial lights are not a necessity but it helps to add the correct amount of lighting that keeps your plant as healthy as possible and look vibrant with natural colours.

When buying artificial lights, these are the factors you will need to consider

- how bright is the light
- how many watt does the light consumes (you definitely do not want to get high electricity bills at the end of the month!)
- what is the colour temperature
- how much heat does the light radiates (if it emits too much heat, you would need to spend more on buying a cooling ventilation. Or another way is by placing the light further away from the plant but this would reduce the amount of light. Therefore, it is best to make sure the light does not product too much heat before purchasing it)

- LED grow lights
- Fluorescent grow lights
- LED bulbs

For the terrarium in smaller container, in a few months or so, you might need to revamp or give it a little haircut. The glass might get misty or filmed with a green goo. Or your plant has overgrown and having dead foliage. So here are a few simple steps for you to keep them looking like since the very first time.

- If the glass gets misty
Open the lid and allow the excess moisture or mist to clear. Leave it open until the mist has cleared and clean up the condensation. But be aware of your plants as long exposure to dry air might cause them to wilt.

- The plant is overgrown
Give them a prune. Prune the dead foliage or overgrown plant to prevent rotting. If the pruning does not help, it still gets messy. Try transferring them to another bigger container and replace them with a slower-growing or smaller plant.

- Your plant is leaning towards one side
Try rotating your plant every few days so that your plant will not grow lopsided towards the light.

So hope this guide will help you make your own or if you plan to sell one! Get creative with the container and the finishing touches for a unique touch.