How to Plant a Terrarium - Jar Terrariums

A terrarium is an easy and fun way to bring the beauty of nature inside your home-especially in the winter! Screw on the lid and this terrarium makes a great gift, too!

Terrariums aren't expensive and anyone can make them. And the best part is that you don't need a green thumb to care for them. If you follow the instructions for making one it is virtually a self-care garden.  They are perfect for children, your kitchen counter, and adding a bit of life to your coffee table.

Don't miss out on adding some whimsy to your terrariums! Head to your local garden center and look through the fairy garden supplies for accessories to add to your terrarium. For ours, I used colored pebbles and some fun fairy accessories.

Terrarium Materials:

Make one or make many!
➡️ (supplies are easily found at your local garden or home improvement store)

  • Mason jar (any size will do but I recommend a 2pint)
  • Succulent/Cacti Soil if using succulents or indoor soil if using mini ferns
  • Gravel
  • Activated charcoal (necessary if you want to close the lid. It keeps the bacteria in check.)
  • Assorted moss-optional
    -Sea glass mix, colored rocks, or shells-optional
  • 1 live succulent or mini fern ---or many, if you are wanting to make many terrariums :)

Terrarium DIY instructions:

  1. Start with a clean and clear glass jar or container. Your recycling bin most likely has a good option. Other fun options would be a fish bowl, coffee pot, pickle jar, and more.
  2. Cover the bottom of the jar with a layer of pebbles or gravel for drainage.
  3. Add a small layer of activated charcoal.
  4. Add a layer of moss to help the potting soil from staying out of the charcoal layer. This is optional. if you aren't too picky about the layered look you can skip this.
  5. Add a thick layer of potting soil. It is a good idea to get potting soil made for indoor plants if you can.
  6. Shake off the dirt that comes with the plants. Use a spoon or your hands to create the hole for your plants.
  7. Plant small ferns, succulents, or even cacti in your soil and pat it in gently. You want to keep about 1 plant per 1-inch diameter, if possible. A good resource for small plants for your terrarium is your local garden store fairy garden section. Generally, plant your largest plant first so you leave enough space for the smaller plants.
  8. Once you have your plants planted add additional moss, gravel, or decorative rocks to cover the soil.
  9. Finish with your small extra accessories, if you decide to use them.

Choosing your terrarium plants:

  • Larger terrariums are capable of handling some smaller houseplants and don't necessarily need the smaller terrarium plants.
  • Terrariums do best in indirect light. Choose plants that don't need direct sunlight and do best in lower lights.
  • Terrariums are humid, make sure the plant you choose loves humidity. If you REALLY love a particular plant that isn't fond of humidity (like cacti), choose to leave the lid off your terrarium and provide extra layers of gravel for drainage.
  • Your local garden store is the best resource for finding terrarium plants. Most likely they have an entire section specifically for terrariums. If not, simply and they will be happy to help!
Condensation collects on the inside of a jar terrarium

To care for your terrarium in a jar:

Keep the soil in your terrarium moist by gently spraying the soil with a water sprayer.
Keep condensation in check. Remove the lid of your jar when you see a heavy condensation in the jar. When the condensation has gone, replace the lid.
Keep the plants deadheaded, pruned, and leaves trimmed that are yellow or brown.
Don't fertilize the plants!

Tips & Questions:

Is a closed terrarium or open terrarium better?

Open terrariums have less problems with fungal diseases and bacteria because of the air circulation but require a bit more babysitting to keep them moist and adequately watered. Closed terrariums are easier to care for but can have problems with bacteria. However, the use of the activated charcoal layer I recommend you use dramatically decreases the risk of bacteria problems.

Using tweezers for making a mason jar terrarium

How to I get plants and soil into jars with narrow openings?

  • Chopsticks, tongs, or tweezers are your friend! Use them to help you get small plants and accessories into your jar. Try using a wooden spoon to press down the soil, a small spatula to move soil around, and even a muddler. Just dig into your kitchen tools for the right tool!
A diy terrarium in a jar.

It always makes my day when I can make terrariums. I find them utterly adorable, sweet, and easy to take care of. Plus terrariums are all SORTS of whimsy! Grab the supplies and make one for yourself. They also make fantastic gift ideas, birthday and wedding favors, and kid birthday party activities.

Use this same formula of layers to create your own diy terrariums from any container that is suitable. We had one from an old standing gumball machine that I adored (and then my kids put a caterpillar in it and that darn caterpillar ate everything --extra note, don't add bugs to your terrarium!).

11 thoughts on “How to Plant a Terrarium - Jar Terrariums”

  1. I love your tutorial. I organize one day getaways for women. We are heading out to the forest in the fall and will collect moss, etc. to make a terrarium. I'm wondering if it's important to clean the moss, etc. first to avoid mold and bugs. Did you have any problems with yours in this respect? Any input you have would be appreciated.


  2. sistah sunshine

    You are too cute! Love the quick ideas and tips, added commentary made me chuckle! Wish we could have seen more of the making of the project! (Change camera angle). Good luck with your videos! (Found this on pinterest btw)

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