How To Make Terrariums

How To Make Terrariums

A Step By Step Guide

How It's Made

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is, at its heart, simply an indoor garden. It is put together inside a container, normally glass. A terrarium usually contains soil, sand, rocks, plants, and decorations. When everything is together in a terrarium and it is healthy, it acts as a mini greenhouse that allows humidity-loving plants to thrive. Many people make and display terrariums for a multitude of reasons, but everyone can agree that they add a touch of greenery and freshness to any space!

The appeal of a terrarium is having a small ecosystem that is very easy to take care of. Most people opt for a terrarium instead of buying a large houseplant that needs a lot of maintenance. You can make a terrarium large or small enough to fill any container, so they can fit nicely in a small space or fill a big hole in your decor. In a way, it is a compromise between the ease of silk flower arrangements and the beauty and freshness of live potted plants.

Terrariums can easily contain a multitude of plants and decorations. You can select different plants and various decorative items to match the mood of any space. Unlike normal houseplants, they don’t need much TLC; they’re fine with very little water and artificial light!

There are two types of terrariums: open-air and closed. Both are very easy to make. You will need some supplies from your local plant nursery, home improvement store, or garden center. An important distinction: the closed container needs activated charcoal to keep it healthy, so be careful making closed terrariums. However, the open-air terrarium is what we will be covering today.

Why should we make terrariums?

Creating a terrarium from scratch is both simple and rewarding. You can easily customize something that represents you and your space, while getting the satisfaction of creating a home for your new plant friends. With the proper supplies placed in the right order, you can make it look like you’re a terrarium pro!

What do we need to make one?

Naturally for plants, we’re going to need some dirt. We’re just using some regular potting soil. A terrarium needs a filtration system, so we’re also going to grab several rocks, pebbles, and some sand. If you were going to make a closed terrarium, you would also need some activated charcoal to keep the air clean. Finally, we’ve got some mulch to help keep moisture in and to give it a more organic look.

What should we put in?

Next, let’s talk about the different plants you may want to use in your terrarium. We want plants that love humidity because the terrarium essentially becomes a mini-greenhouse. Succulents are the simplest choice: they are affordable, cute, small, and come in a lot of varieties so you’re sure to find something you like. They’re very easy to care for and work well with other plants. Moss is also a no-brainer: it helps keep the moisture in the jar and supports other life while giving everything a nice green feel. Finally, you can use other plants such as bigger cacti, ferns, ivy, or other small hardy plants that don’t need much care.

Here, we’ve got everything we need to make a terrarium. You should be able to find most everything you need at one of our Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium stores or your local lawn and garden center.

Our list of supplies:
  • Potting Soil
  • Play Sand
  • Small rocks and pebbles
  • Medium-size rocks
  • Succulents
  • Ivy (This is a Philodendron)
  • Assorted Mulch
  • Live Moss
  • A Molten Glass and Reclaimed Teak Vase

Ready to go?

Make sure you have a large, flat table or floor to work on your terrarium: you’ll be handling live plants and will need the space! Once you are ready to begin work on your terrarium, start by placing pebbles and small rocks in the bottom of the container. You can add as many different colors and sizes as you like, but be mindful; there’s lots to put in here!

Let's get started!

Next, add a layer of sand. The sand will help with the drainage down into the rocks. Once your sand is evenly distributed in your terrarium, you can begin adding your moss. Now here we used live moss, but you’re also welcome to use dried moss at this step. Either way, the moss will help keep too much water from seeping down into the sand, which will help the terrarium have the greenhouse effect we need.

After placing the moss, add some potting soil to tuck the moss into. If you’re using dried moss, just pour it on top and press it down firmly. For real moss, we used the potting soil to plant the moss, making sure we had some of the green showing through. That way, the moss can get sunlight so it can spread all through the terrarium. Now, this is the time to grab your plants!

Start by gently unpotting the plants and loosening the dirt around the root ball. Then, gently place the plant in your terrarium and bury the roots, making sure not to disturb your moss too much. You may need more soil here to make sure the roots are covered. Press gently but firmly to make sure the plant is anchored in the ground. Here, we’re using succulents which are small and hardy. These guys don’t need too much dirt, but they will fall over if we don’t plant them properly.

Once your plants are in there securely and in an arrangement that suits you, you can begin decorating! We’re using some mulch for an organic look, plus it has the added benefit of holding the moisture in the soil. You can also use rocks, ornamental figures, natural foliage such as pine cones, leaves, and sticks, or whatever you desire! This terrarium can be whatever you want it to be, whether for your own decor or if you’re customizing it for a loved one.

Finally, we’re going to lightly mist all the plants with water from a spray bottle. This helps get the dirt off their leaves as well as get some water in the soil so the plants can start doing their terrarium thing. Ta-da! You’ve finished your first terrarium! Be sure to post it on social media and tag us so we can see it!

What do we do next?

Okay, you’ve made your terrarium. Now what? While taking care of a terrarium is very simple, they still are living plants that do require a bit of loving care from time to time.

The most important thing with plants is always going to be water. An open terrarium will benefit from being watered every three to six weeks. You should always check the soil to see how much water your plants need. Avoid overwatering, because the wet environment may become a breeding ground for pests such as gnats.

Plants also need light, which can be hard to arrange. However, plants in terrariums generally are fine with some indirect artificial light. If your plant is in a glass vessel, it is actually recommended to keep your plants out of direct sunlight because it may burn your plant’s leaves.

What other terrariums are there?

Here’s some other great ideas for terrariums that we’ve done in the past. We used some of our Molten Glass and Reclaimed Teak Vases again, as well as our Triple Hanging Glass Balls for these. As you can see, sometimes we deviated a little by adding different plants or more sand. Try it out for yourself by changing up the amounts, using several different types or rocks and plants together, or placing it in a unique pot.

Let's get creative!

If you want to make a fascinating terrarium, try picking a one-of-a-kind vessel. Don’t be afraid to use something unique as your terrarium! Most terrariums are made of glass, but you can use any bowl or container you prefer. As you can see from the photos above, you can make a pretty piece of pottery or a wooden box into a gorgeous terrarium just as easily. The possibilities are endless!

Click here to see some great products we have in store that would make perfect terrariums.

Sarah Bee used one of our Molten Glass and Reclaimed Teak Vases to make her terrarium.

If you were able to make your own terrarium, please share it with us! You can share your photos on Instagram at @southeasternsalvage or on Twitter at @SESHomeEmporium

We hope you learned something from this blog, and remember to keep checking back to get the latest and greatest from our Home Blog!

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