4 Tips For Making a DIY Terrarium Garden - Backyard Boss
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4 Tips For Making a DIY Terrarium Garden

Terrariums are a fun way to bring nature’s beauty into your home. You can make your own unique terrarium by arranging plants and decorations that you adore to create a miniature ecosystem.

Once your terrarium plants become established, they won’t require much watering or extra upkeep. With proper care, your terrarium will flourish and provide you with a beautiful, low-maintenance display of plants. Read on to discover the best tips and tricks for making a DIY terrarium garden.

Find the Right Container

Mini succulent garden in glass terrarium
Image credits: Dzina Belskaya via Shutterstock

The first step for making a terrarium is choosing your container. Use a sturdy container made of easy-to-clean materials, such as glass or plastic. It must be transparent so that light can reach the plants.

The container’s size will depend on the size of the plants you want to put in it. Make sure to choose something large enough to accommodate the plants and allow for extra growth. Using a container with a wide opening is also beneficial, as this will make it easier to add plants, decorations, and water when necessary.

Create a Healthy Terrarium Environment

Setting yourself up for success from the beginning is essential to keep your terrarium healthy and thriving. It’s helpful to make a plan before you get started as some plants are better suited for terrariums than others. Choose small and slow-growing plants, and ensure they have similar light and water requirements. Popular options include cacti, air plants, and even ferns and mosses.

Most terrarium plants grow best in bright, indirect light but make sure to do research on your specific plants so you can provide the correct care. Place the terrarium in a location with plenty of natural light. However, keep it out of direct sunshine, which can overheat the terrarium. With that being said, there are different terrarium options to consider.

Open vs Closed Terrariums

terrariums on wooden table
Image credits: Kuqoo via Pixabay

The main difference between open and closed terrariums is that a closed terrarium creates its own ecosystem, while an open terrarium relies on the room’s ambient humidity. When choosing between the two, consider the types of plants you want to use and their moisture needs. Also, think about how much maintenance you’re willing to do, as closed terrariums generally require less care than open terrariums.

Closed terrariums are best for plants that need high humidity, like ferns and mosses. Open terrariums work well for plants that prefer dryer conditions, such as succulents and cacti.

Drainage and Watering

Watering a Terrarium
Image credits: Svitlana Hulko via Shutterstock

Since terrariums are small, living environments, it’s crucial to provide adequate drainage. Otherwise, the soil gets oversaturated, and you might have issues with root rot and other plant diseases.

Begin by placing a 2-inch layer of gravel or small rocks in the bottom of the container. Next, spread a thin layer of activated charcoal on top of the gravel, which helps prevent harmful bacterial and fungal growth.

Most terrariums will only need to get watered occasionally. In a closed terrarium, moisture from the plants and soil gets trapped inside, creating a humid environment. As a general rule, open terrariums should get approximately 1 tablespoon of water per week. In contrast, closed terrariums may only need to get watered every few months. If you notice condensation on the plants or glass, halt watering for a little. In contrast if the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water.

You also have the option to mist your plants. This is especially proper for air plants as they soak up moisture through their foliage.


Terrariums on a table
Image credits: cottonbro studio via Pexels

The best type of terrarium soil depends on the plants you use. In general, the soil should be loose and well-draining but also able to hold onto some moisture.

A planting mix that includes a combination of potting soil, perlite, and coconut coir or peat moss works well for most plants. You can also use a soil mix specifically formulated for terrariums or try making your own potting soil.

Arrange Your Terrarium Plants

Plants in a closed terrarium
Image credits: Huy Phan via Pexels

When choosing your plants, be sure to select species that have similar moisture and light requirements. Doing so will help ensure that all the plants in your terrarium thrive. Also, look for plants that will fit comfortably in the space and won’t grow too large for the size and shape of your container.

Place the tallest plants in the center or back, with smaller plants in front and on the sides. You can also create a sense of depth by situating plants at different levels. This arrangement creates a natural, layered look and helps ensure that all the plants receive adequate light. Use a variety of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors to create a dynamic and visually appealing display.

When planting, leave enough space between the plants to allow for proper growth. Overcrowding can lead to poor plant health and make the terrarium look cluttered.

Keep Your Plants Happy

Terrariums on a windowsill
Image credits: Kitty Terwolbeck via Openverse

Although terrariums are usually low-maintenance, they still need a bit of routine care. Remove dead or yellowing leaves to help prevent the spread of disease and to keep the terrarium looking tidy. Also, keep the container walls clean, as build-up or cloudiness blocks light.

Prune the plants as needed to control their size and shape, promote new growth, and keep everything looking neat. Since terrarium plants should grow relatively slow, fertilizer isn’t necessary.

Lastly, keep an eye out for pests like mealybugs or aphids. If you notice insect activity, treat them promptly with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Several treatments might be necessary to eliminate the problem.

Don’t Stop Beleafing!

Creating and caring for a terrarium is a fun and creative hobby that people of all ages and experience levels can enjoy. Terrariums are also an excellent educational tool, helping to teach people about plant care and the principles of ecology. Overall, making a plant terrarium is a rewarding and enjoyable experience that brings beauty and life to any space.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about making a DIY terrarium garden? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!