How to Make a Closed Terrarium

Terrariums make gorgeous decor, but already made terrariums can be pricey. Creating your own terrarium is a fun activity to do on your own, with kids, or with a friend or partner! Closed terrariums are especially great for anyone interested in tropical plants but who struggles with keeping them humid enough.

What supplies do I need?

You only need a handful of supplies to make a closed terrarium - a glass container with a lid, pebbles, horticultural charcoal, moss, soil, and plants.

Step 1: Lidded Container

You can purchase a glass container with a lid for very cheap from any local thrift store

While you can certainly go all out on your terrarium if you want to, the supplies don’t need to be expensive. I got this glass container with a lid at a thrift store for $1. Thrift stores are great places to find cheap containers for terrariums or other plant.

Ideally your container should be glass. Be sure to clean it thoroughly before you start to avoid bacteria hurting your plants. And for this project, you’ll want to make sure the container has some sort of lid.

Step 2: Stones / Pebbles

Use stones or pebbles to add drainage to the bottom of your terrarium.

Next you’ll need need some sort of pebbles for the bottom layer of your terrarium. This allows for adequate drainage. The water will fall to the bottom of the container in the layer of rocks while it’s not being used by the plants. This prevents root rot and fungus or mold to grow on your foliage.

You can get as fancy or as basic as you want with this step. I already had these pebbles, and they’re meant for an aquarium. But you can use anything from really pretty polished stones to rocks from your yard.

Step 3: Horticultural Charcoal

Horticultural charcoal for plant terrariums is essential to keeping your closed terrarium healthy.

Next you’ll need a layer of horticultural charcoal to further improve drainage. Charcoal will absorb impurities to keep your terrarium healthy and free from mold, bacteria, and fungus.

While this is something you’ll likely have to purchase if you don’t already own it, I wouldn’t skip out on this step. It’s pretty cheap on Amazon, and having good drainage and keeping out mold is crucial to sustaining a terrarium.

Step 4: Moss

Using moss in your closed terrarium both adds extra drainage and adds color and creativity that you'll be able to see through the glass.

Adding moss to your terrarium has a duel purpose. It adds yet another layer of drainage to keep your terrarium healthy. It also adds some extra color and beauty to the layers that will be visible through the glass.

This pack of preserved moss was only $4.50 on Amazon and I have a ton left over. I really enjoy the different textures and colors that came in this pack. It’s great for bringing in some creativity to the process!

Step 5: Soil

Of course now you’ll need soil for your plants to grow in. A regular potting soil should work fine for most plants, although you can mix it with a well draining cactus soil or add perlite.

The amount of soil you need also depends on what you’re planting. Some plants have very shallow roots and wouldn’t need a ton of soil, while others have deep root systems. It also depends on your container and how you want it to look!

Step 6: Add Your Plants!

Small tropical plants to added to a closed terrarium

For a closed terrarium, you’ll want to choose plants that like high humidity. In my terrarium I added two begonias, a polka dot plant, and a frosty fern.

If you’re looking to make a terrarium with succulents or drier plants, you’ll want an open container.

Step 7: Add Water Watch it Grow

A closed glass terrarium with tropical plants

Use a mister to add some humidity to the terrarium. You can also add a small amount of water to start. Once you’ve added some moisture, you can close the lid and place your terrarium near sunlight!

When the terrarium has settled, you should see condensation at night and in the morning only. If there is constant condensation, you likely added too much water. Simply open the lid for a day or two to let some of the water evaporate.

Remember that while terrariums are generally self-sustaining, they can require some maintenance, especially if you’re still figuring out how to get things just right! Remove dead leaves, check for mold, and keep an eye on the moisture levels regularly.

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9 thoughts

      1. Lol well if you’re looking for something that doesn’t need to cared for much than maybe a terrarium is a good idea for you! Once you get it all set it up can mostly forget about it since the water recycles itself like rain in nature.


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