15th December 2015

Terrarium blog post 2016

How to make a terrarium

In Episode 3 of Kirstie's Handmade Christmas was taught by the connoisseur of terrariums, Isabelle Palmer of The Balcony Gardener how to bring the outdoors in. Why not give it a try at home?

What you need:                                                                                          

Glass cases

Carbon mixture  (available in aquatic shops)


Soil (house plant compost)

Moss – sheet moss or mound moss, or both


Mini trowel

Mini fork

Long handled scissors

Watering can

Stick (a chop stick will do)

Spray bottle, to water

Features/ decorations – pebbles/ branches/ mini objects/ dolls house furniture/ tank ornaments (Ideas are little trees, snow effect spray, and little woodland animals such as rabbits or reindeer)

The process:

Add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of the vessel.  This will allow water to settle at the bottom and provide your terrarium with drainage.

Cover the pebbles with a layer of activated carbon and clay. The carbon can be bought in aquatic shops and purifies the water in your terrarium, while the clay absorbs any excess water and prevents it from going mouldy.

Next add a layer of soil (enough to allow the roots of your plants to grow) on top of the carbon and clay. Smooth out the compost and using a trowel or your finger make a well or wells for your plants. 

Now that your foundations are laid, you can let your imagination run wild. Position your desired plants. It might be useful to use a long handled pair of tweezers or fork to do this. Ferns, Baby tears and Peperomia are great plants to start with.

Add a little more soil around the top and sides then gently pat down around the base of the plants so they are snugly in position.

Next add your accessories – such as moss, more pebbles or bog wood which can be bought at most aquatic centres. You can use sheet moss to cover a large area, or mound moss to create a hill/ forest effect.

Give your terrarium a spritz of water using the spray bottle to get it started. It’s best to use the spray to protect the delicate plants. Spray enough to ensure its moist but not to saturate it.

If you wish you can add small objects such as mini animals, Christmas ornaments, crystals or you anything you want to make your terrarium more exciting

Once you’re happy with your arrangement, use a brush to clean any stray specks of potting mix and ensure your terrarium is clean.

You can experiment with different plants and containers to make terrariums in all shapes and sizes.