DIY Terrariums with Terrain

UPDATE: This post originally ran on April 17th 2012, but with summer coming to an end we wanted to remind everyone of this easy and beautiful way to bring some nature into your home – they’ll cheer you right up as the weather gets colder outside!

Terrariums are one of my favorite ways to add a little outdoor life to the home. The best thing about them is how easy they are to make – and once you know how, it becomes addicting. Trust me – you’ll want to make hundreds, experimenting with different types of plants, flowers, colors, shapes, textures…they’re so much fun! This Sunday I had the opportunity to attend a terrarium workshop at Terrain, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Not only was it a great way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon, I also learned a lot about these sweet little plants and how to keep them healthy. And of course, I documented the whole thing so I could share the tutorial here on the blog!

What you need:

– Your terrarium of choice. A completely enclosed terrarium requires little or no watering. If it is an open terrarium, you may have to water once a week or on a monthly basis. Enclosed terrariums are best for plants that require a moist environment – they keep the water in, and you’ll typically see condensation on the inside of the glass. I used a round glass vase that has a large opening, because I made a terrarium that is drier and doesn’t need much water.

– Your plants of choice. Terrain has a whole section of terrarium plants that you can pick and choose from – but you must stick with using either succulents or moisture-loving plants – you should not mix the two, because they require different environments (succulents can live in a dry environment).

– Planting materials: rocks, charcoal and soil

After examining the selection of plants I decided to go with succulents – I loved the colors of the plant above, and the little mini cacti!

Step One: Add your base layer – this can be rocks, gravel, pebbles or course sand. This layer is for drainage, and depending on the size of your container, you will want to spread at least 1” of drainage material evenly across the entire bottom of your terrarium.

Step Two: On top of the drainage layer, add a thin layer of activated charcoal (aquarium filter charcoal). This layer will help clean the air of the fumes caused when the organic materials begin to decompose.

Step Three: Add soil – all purpose houseplant potting soil is fine. You can play around with this layer to add depth and contour to your landscape with different levels of soil. Make sure you have enough soil that when you put in your plants their roots are fully surrounded by soil and not extending to the charcoal/gravel layer.

Step Four: Now you can add your plants! Think about how you want to arrange them first, and then dig little holes in the soil to place them. Pack in the soil tightly around them.

Step Five: Once your plants are in, you can add finishing touches like larger rocks and stones, moss, sticks, you name it!

I love my little terrarium! Since I used succulents, it requires lots of sun and doesn’t need much water – just a light spritz here and there.  Thank you so much for the workshop Terrain! For added inspiration, here are some other awesome terrariums people made on Sunday:

A larger terrarium like this one allows for more room to play around with plants!

Photos by Julia.

Stay up to date with Terrain happenings and sign up for their emails here.

Check out more of our DIY projects.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

I love these! Such a great project and will liven up the garden. :)

Come check out the Fresh Fruit and Chocolate Mint I had for Easter.


11 years ago

I love this…but, I know nothing about plants, so I am a little confused on what types of plants to have in it…also, are you supposed to cover it completely after you fill it? hmm…awesome idea though

11 years ago

thank you so much fp julia :)

11 years ago

Great blog. Terrariums are great for those who own reptiles as pets. When I hear terrarium, I think of living reptiles and snakes. Aqua-rium for fish. Terra-rium for reptiles.

Rhonda Mills
11 years ago

Mother nature loves this

11 years ago

Any tips on where to find cool glass vessels?

11 years ago


You can get glass vessels at Jo-Ann’s, Michaels, Christmas Tree Shop and even Goodwill thrift store.

11 years ago

Hi Julia,

Nice blog you have here, especially the photos you put on here are really inspiring! You don’t find that a lot on the web. I might create on of my own terrariums soon, think it’s a really cool idea! Btw, I also found this site on the web, provided me with lots of info, might be useful for other people too :)

11 years ago

What is the pink flowering plant called that you put in there? It is beautiful. where did you get it? I went to fredmeyer, home depot, and lowes and never saw anything like it. Thank you for the post! I made one once I saw your pictures and tutorial. ;)

11 years ago

it’s a calandiva. sub species of the kalanchoe ( from madagascar)

11 years ago

Most terrarium plants can be found in a nursery’s indoor/home section, though big box stores won’t have as good selection or quality plant material. For cute, small starters, I’ve used etsy before but I always recommend supporting your local nursery or floral shop before going online. You can see your plants when you choose them and can ask questions to knowledgeable staff who might give you some great tips that you won’t hear elsewhere. Also, there are some great terrarium books out there including “The New Terrarium”, “Terrarium Craft”, or even “The Unexpected Houseplant”. I hope this helps some people!

11 years ago

I really like this!!!! I am going to make it my business to try this!!!

11 years ago is the place to go online if you’re looking to create a diy terrarium. You can buy modern hanging glass versions or go old school with vintage brass/glass ones. And you can buy plants, moss and rocks for your terrarium there as well. Etsy is also a great place to find neat little miniature knick-knacks to liven up a terrarium. You can populate your new terrarium with tiny animals, toadstools, gnomes and tiny houses found in their miniature ceramics listings (

10 years ago

I think this is among the most important information for me.

And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is really nice : D.
Good job, cheers

10 years ago

Could I use a 55gal. fish tank what kind of plants should I replace the hood lites woth plant lites can I add sum little

It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time

Danny Hofmann
9 years ago

Julia, thank you for the VERY simple step by step instruction you shared along with the pictures. I learned more in your quick little guide than I did with 2 terrarium books I checked out at the library. I’ve been collecting terrarium materials for the past year ie.. Glass containers, stones, sea shells etc but just hasn’t put much together. You’ve inspired me to get down and dirty and start assembly:) Thank you!!

What’s up, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing data, that’s really excellent, keep up

9 years ago

Generally I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up
very compelled me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me.
Thank you, very nice article.

9 years ago

I find great glass vessels at the dollar store.

9 years ago


Where do you get activated charcoal? Is it the same as the one they put in fish tanks?

Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this
board and I in finding It truly useful & it helped me out much.
I am hoping to present something back and aid others like you helped me.

Excellent way of telling, and pleasant post to take information concerning my presentation subject matter,
which i am going to deliver in university.

9 years ago

Thanks for the inspiring post! It’s just about the end of the year again, so I’ve decided that it’s time to get a head start on a new terrarium for this year! I think I’m going to go with a desert theme, planted with succulents and cacti, something to remind me that things can be warm and toasty even in the middle of winter! Cheers!