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Make a Terrarium

Make a Terrarium
6 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (79% score)
  1. Line the bottom of a glass jar with pebbles—one inch is usually adequate.
  2. Place a small piece of charcoal in the middle of the pebbles. The charcoal helps to keep the soil fresh.
  3. Add a few inches of potting soil to the layer of pebbles and charcoal.
  4. Gently place three or four small plants into the container. Make sure the plants are nestled together but not crowded or root bound. Sprinkle more soil to cover roots.
    NOTE: Most rooted houseplant cuttings work well; however succulents and cacti are NOT suited for terrariums.
  5. Arrange live moss around the plants. The moss adds visual appeal as well as lending support and anchorage for the plants.
  6. Add decorative pieces.
  7. Mist the terrarium and cover.
  8. Place you terrarium in an area with moderate light, making sure that the terrarium is not exposed to direct sunlight.

Terrarium Maintenance:

Open the lid of the terrarium and feel the soil every week or two. If the dirt is moist to the touch and condensation is built up in the terrarium, it’s fine. You will begin to notice rhizoid growth (mosses reproduce by rhizoids instead of seeds. The rhizoids resemble tiny reddish sprouts) from the moss and new growth on the plants. If the soil feel dry, mist until dew drops appear on the leaves of the plants and on the insides of the glass. Variations of moss may begin to grow on the inside of the glass, mimicking the rain forest eco-system. This tends to give the vessel an aged and timeless appeal. When this happens, you know your terrarium is thriving.


The plant soil should NEVER be wet or muddy or emit an unpleasant odor. If this happens you have over watered your terrarium. You may remedy this by re-potting the container with fresh soil. The scent of your terrarium should be consistent to the smell of a mossy forest; after all, that’s exactly what it is!

Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges.

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