How To Make A Terrarium

These mini gardens are the perfect way to add some green into your life. They are easy to make and look brilliant in. You might have everything you need at home, but if not you can get the perfect kit here. This page contains a quick guide, with a more detailed guide below.

You'll Need

  • A glass bowl, vase or any container
  • Gravel and/or Sand
  • Soil
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Other decorations (wood, shells, rocks)
  • Plants - Cacti, succulents, moss
  • A spoon or mini trowel


Step by Step Guide (Quick Version)

  1. Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your container
  2. Cover this with your activated charcoal
  3. Add your soil, then make spaces for your plants.
  4. Carefully remove the plant from the pot, shaking off most of the soil from the roots.
  5. Place your plant into the space and pack in soil around it. Repeat for the other plants
  6. If needed, use a spoon to add the remaining gravel and carefully place your decorations.


Cacti are spikey! Use gloves or cactus tongs to remove from the pot and place in your terrarium

Watering. Its essential not to give the terrarium too much water. As it has no drainage holes, and limited airflow, it will stay damp for some time and your plants will not need much water.

Research. Plants have different watering requirements, try to use plants that live in the same environment. 


Terrariums can be broadly categorised into 3; Desert, Tropical and Woodland: 

You'll want to base your category on the plants you are using, which should be based on light and whether the terrarium is open or closed - desert style terrariums will only work in an open vessel.

Desert: Cacti, hawthornias, lithops and succulents work together well. Combine this with some small gravel or sand and you have a mini desert! Make sure to give this very little water and use well draining soil or you risk root rot.

Tropical: Certain cacti and ferns can be mixed here, just make sure they have the same watering requirements.

Woodland: Ferns, mosses look great. Some wood, cushion moss and rounded stones really complete this look.


Detailed Guide

Terrarium Container

Give it a wash first to ensure there is nothing on the surface that might damage your plants. Have a think about the layout of your terrarium, whether you will have any layers and if you'd like any topography inside.

Rocks, Gravel & Drainange

A layer of gravel allows drainage of water in the soil to prevent overwatering. With most plants, especially cacti, standing water will kill your plant. You'll need at least 2 cm of rocks at the bottom for adequate drainange, but this can be increased depending on the container size.

Activated Charcoal

This looks exactly like regular charcoal and is produced for a variety of reasons. For terrariums, you'll need horticultural grade. This helps to reduce bacteria, fungi and odors. It has also been shown to improve growth for certain plants.

Terrarium Soil & Potting Mixes

A good quality, well draining soil is best for terrariums. If needed, perlite or horticultural grit can be added to increase drainage. Fill the terrarium with enough space for your plant's roots, then use your hands or a trowel to make a spaces to fit your plants in.

Terrarium Plants

Carefully remove your plants from their pots, gently loosen the soil to free the roots. Place the plant into the space you've created and add a bit more soil to pack it in. Repeat for all other plants.

Terrarium Moss

If you are using moss, this can be simply placed on the surface of the soil.

Finishing It Off

Add your remaining gravel or sand around the plants and moss, you may need to use a spoon to get good coverage of the gravel.

Terrarium Accessories

Place any accessories on top, ornaments, shells, pinecones and rocks are all fantastic terrarium pieces.


A small brush is great to remove any soil, give the terrarium some water (not too much!) and place on a sunny windowsill.

For inspiration, terrarium kits and terrariums, look no further than