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How to Make a Mini Terrarium: A Step By Step Guide

Terrariums are staples of any home with green thumbs. They’re simple and easy to create, making them a great DIY project for those looking to add some greenery to their home without breaking the bank. Creating your own terrarium is inexpensive, as most materials can be found at a local dollar store. They’re also relatively easy to make, requiring only a few tools and supplies. If you’re interested in learning how to make a mini terrarium, keep reading!

how to make a mini terrarium

What is a Terrarium?

A terrarium is a small container used to grow plants. A terrarium serves as a self-contained ecosystem, allowing you, among other things, to grow plants that require specific conditions that can’t be found in your garden. Terrariums are also great for those living in smaller spaces, such as dorm rooms or apartments, who would like to grow their own plants but don’t have a garden to do so. There are three types of terrarium you can create: Corner, Hanging, and Table-top. Their names say it all: corner terrariums are placed in the corner of a room, table-top terrariums are generally placed on a table (or other flat surfaces such as shelves), and hanging terrariums are hung from the ceiling. Of the three, hanging terrariums can be a little more invasive as they require drilling into the wall or ceiling to fix a hook for support.

Why Make a Terrarium?

Creating your own terrarium is a rewarding experience and the process allows you to better understand the plants and ecosystem within. Additionally, you’ll have an adorable decoration in your home that will add a touch of nature to your space. Terrariums also make great gifts: they’re easy to create and can be customized to fit any occasion, making them a very original (and eco-friendly) present idea. If you’re planning on making a terrarium as a gift, consider making a corner terrarium or a table-top terrarium, which are easier to place around the house. Among the reasons for choosing to make a terrarium for yourself are also the lack of a garden or the lack of an environment that allows for certain types of plants to grow; luckily, both problems can be solved with a mini terrarium.

Materials Needed to Make a Mini Terrarium

Container: you’ll need to find a container to create your mini terrarium. You can use any type of glass container you like, but you’ll want to find one that has a wide opening to make it easier to add and remove your soil.

Decorative rocks: these are used for drainage in your container but can also provide your terrarium with its character. When creating your mini terrarium, you’ll want to use decorative rocks that fit the style you imagine for your finished product. Quick tip: depending on the size of your mini terrarium, you might want to skip the decorative rocks altogether and start directly with the layer of gravel instead. If the terrarium is very small, you might not have the space to layer both rocks and gravel.

Gravel: this is used for the base of your mini terrarium, and can go as a second drainage level above your decorative rocks.

Activated charcoal: activated charcoal is used to remove odors from your mini terrarium, so it's a good idea to add it to your layers.

Sphagnum moss: this is used to line the bottom of your mini terrarium. Sphagnum moss is not mandatory, but it helps regulate humidity and adds more greenery to the terrarium. Check with your local garden it this type of moss goes well with the principal plants you plan on putting into your mini terrarium.

Potting soil: potting soil will be the growing medium in your mini terrarium.

Plants: of course, you'll need to add plants to your mini terrarium to complete it. A popular choice is succulents, but you can also choose to place other types of plants inside your terrarium, including flowering plants.

Step 1: Find the Right Place for Your Terrarium

Before you create your mini terrarium, you’ll want to find the right place for it in your home. When placing your mini terrarium, you’ll want to consider the lighting of the room, as well as the temperature of the room. If you’re creating a table-top terrarium, you might want to place it on a bookshelf or countertop, which are usually well-illuminated places. If you’re creating a hanging terrarium, place it near a window where it will get plenty of sunlight. If you’re creating a corner terrarium, light is usually even more of an issue: make sure the corner isn't behind a sofa or other pieces of furniture, as this would mean it won't get enough sunlight. If you’re creating a mini terrarium and want to add flowers to your container, you might want to place it on a bookshelf or countertop, away from direct sunlight. This will allow your flowers to thrive while keeping your mini ecosystem healthy.

Step 2: Find a Suitable Container

First, you’ll need to find a container to use as the base of your mini terrarium. There are a number of things to keep in mind while selecting your container:

  • Think of the space you have selected for your terrarium: containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Think of the look you're trying to achieve and select the one that you like the most, while, at the same time, selecting the one that fits your space most harmoniously.

  • Container material: the best material for your terrarium is glass, as it lets in light and lets you admire the plants within.

  • Open or closed? When creating a terrarium, a common questions is: should it be airtight? containers for terrariums may be open or closed. It depends on the types of plants you're looking to put inside. Plants that thrive in more humid environments will do great in a closed-lid terrarium, while other plants that prefer circulating air might suffer the excessive moisture that builds up in the confined space. If you choose to go for a closed container, a cork top lid is a great way to keep a minimum air circulation. So, whether you’re looking for a decorative container or a more rustic-looking old jam jar, remember to first think about the plants that you're going to put inside and, therefore, if the container need be left open or closed for the plants to thrive.

  • Leave enough space for the plants to grow: you’ll want to select a container that’s the right size for your mini terrarium. If the container is too small, it won’t allow for the plants to grow. If the container is too big, you won’t be able to see your plants.

  • Think about drainage: you’ll also want to select a container that has a shape that will allow for drainage. Drainage will be aided with stones and gravel, but the container must be of a shape that allows drainage to occur. A container with poor drainage will cause your mini terrarium to become waterlogged, which can be dangerous for your plants.

Step 3: Add Drainage And Decoration

Once you've selected your container, you’ll want to add decoration to the bottom of your terrarium. This first layer inside your terrarium can be anything from colorful rocks and marbles to small pieces of bark. When you're selecting what to put in, think of the style you're going for: is it monotone? Boho? Do you like vibrant, exotic colors? This will determine the type of decoration that will go into your new terrarium. Once you're done with the first layer, you’ll also want to add some type of gravel to the bottom of your container. This is purely used for drainage, but you can find decorative gravel at a local gardening store, as this, too, comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. After you have added your decorative rocks and gravel, you’ll want to add your activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is used to remove odours from your mini terrarium and you can find activated charcoal at most gardening stores. Activated charcoal is not strictly necessary, as a terrarium will function even without the charcoal layer.

Step 4: Add Your Soil

After you have added your decorative rocks, gravel, and activated charcoal, you’ll want to add your soil. Add a good quality soil to your mini terrarium. If you’re creating a corner or table-top terrarium and plan to add flowers, you’ll want to add a potting soil that has extra nutrients, as this will allow your flowers to grow and thrive. If, for example, you plan on adding plants with small root systems, you’ll want to add a potting soil that has sand, as this will allow for better drainage. Before you choose what type of soil to use, always think about the plants you're going to be placing in your mini terrarium.

Step 5: Add Your Plants

After you have added your soil, you’ll want to add your plants. Choose plants that have the same watering and environmental needs, as they will work best together. For example, don't place a flower with a succulent, as one requires much more water and humidity than the other. Place your biggest plant first, and the secondary, smaller plants to follow. For corner and table-top terrariums, you’ll want to use plants or flowers with small root systems. This will allow for better drainage and will prevent your plants from becoming waterlogged. If you’re creating a hanging terrarium, you’ll want to add plants with larger root systems. Instead, flowers are ideal for table-top terrariums, but they are not suitable for hanging terrariums.


Terrariums are great for those looking for a simple and easy DIY project, as they require only a few tools and supplies. Creating your own terrarium is inexpensive, and materials can be found at local stores. A mini terrarium is also a wonderful gift idea for those who love plants but do not have a lot of space in their home. Follow the above tips and you'll be able to successfully create and populate your own mini terrarium in no time.


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