How to Build a Terrarium?

How to Build a Terrarium?

If you're running out of places to put plants in your home, look no further than a terrarium. A terrarium will allow you to expand your plant collection without taking up so much space. Better yet, a terrarium provides unique conditions for tropical plants that your home may not usually be able to support. If you've wanted to learn how to build a terrarium, this blog is for you!

Getting Started

Before you begin building your terrarium, you need to decide if you want to show off a beautiful container or grow a particular type of plant. This decision is important because not every container will serve as a proper terrarium container for all plants. Some plants thrive off of humidity, and they will not survive if placed in an open terrarium. On the flip side, plants that love dry climates will not do well in a closed terrarium container. 

Another thing to consider before building out your terrarium is what the lighting is like in the spot you will be displaying your terrarium. Bright indirect natural lighting is preferable for most tropical plants. In contrast, some plants that prefer direct light may do better when placed under a grow light. 

Once you have figured out what type of container, plants, and lighting you will need for your terrarium build, it's time to assemble it!

Laying the foundation of a terrarium is not like filling a pot for a potted plant. There is terrain shaping to be done. You will need to lay down a base layer of pebbles and activated charcoal to help with excess moisture. (No one likes root rot.)

Next, you will use your desired planting medium (potting soil, peat, or bark) to begin laying out the landscape of your tiny garden.

Visual Interest

What makes terrariums unique is you can see all of the "underground" layers from the outside. You can take advantage of this situation and add visual interest to your terrarium by using different medium types as you're building your terrarium's landscape. 

For example, if you're creating a terrarium for succulents, you can use colorful sand to keep things interesting. Or, if you're working with tropical plants, the addition of moss can add texture and enhance the terrarium's humidity. Another thing we love about moss is you can arrange it so it looks like your terrarium has hills and valleys. 

Whatever you decide to use for your terrarium, make sure it fits the needs of the plants that will call that container home.

Tropical Plant Inspiration

Small-scale tropical plants work best in terrariums because of their size and love of humidity. Here are a few tropical options that work great in terrariums:

Variegated creeping fig (Ficus pumila Variegata)

Oakleaf fig (Ficus pumila quercifolia 

Pilea glauca 'Silver Sparkle'

String of turtles (Peperomia prostrata)

Emerald Ripple Peperomia (P. caperata)

Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera)

Friendship plant (Pilea Mollis)

Nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis)

Jewel orchids (Ludisia discolor, Macodes petola, and Ludachilus species)

You can find more plants that work well in close terrariums here.

Learn more about open terrarium plant options here.

Looking for more terrarium basics, check out this blog.