Terrariums are the new in-thing for green-thumbs. Learn how to make these low-maintenance, indoor garden beauties.

Terrariums can be made in any clear glass or plastic container – from a kitchen jar to a glass casing. You can make one on a budget and with the kids. Below is a step-by-step guide to creating a terrarium.


You can use a fish bowl, pickle jar, or vase – as long as it is transparent and will allow light to pass through.

It must have a large enough opening to place the plant inside.

Clean the container from bacteria with boiling water, then make sure it is completely dry before planting.

Terrariums are grouped into two categories, by container –

Open lid: Monitor how much direct sunlight the terrarium is getting. Too much sun may burn the leaves.

Closed lid: An enclosed terrarium. Place the terrarium where it will receive light, but not direct sunlight – otherwise the plants will literally cook inside.


According to Better Homes and Gardens, there are some plants that are well-suited to growing inside a terrarium, including:

  • Moon Valley Friendship plant – Pilea involucrate
  • Variegated Spider fern – Arachnoides simplicior
  • Starfish plant – Cryptanthus bivittatus
  • Nerve plant – Fittonia verschaffeltii var.argyroneura
  • Variegata – Peperomia caperata
  • Golden Clubmoss – Selaginella kraussiana
  • Aquamarine – Pilea glauca
  • Air Plant – Tillandsia stricta
  • Minimus Aureus – Acorus gramineus
  • Black Mondo grass- Ophiopogon planiscapus
  • Asplenium Bulbiferum
  • Strawberry Begonia – Saxifraga stolonifera

With the right care, most plants can be grown inside a terrarium. Tropical and sub-tropical plants are ideal in the Australian climate.


A terrarium does not have drainage holes like a typical plant pot.

Firstly, add a layer of small pebbles to the bottom layer of the terrarium. This will help drainage, and prevent damage to the plant roots.

Cover the pebbles with charcoal. Charcoal will help keep the soil fresh, and it is purchasable from most local pet stores.

Then add a light layer of sphagnum moss over the charcoal. This will help keep the layers separate.

Buy good quality, commercial potting mix that has been sterilised. Slightly moisten the soil if it isn’t already, then place about 4cm on top of the moss. However, the amount of soil will depend on the size of your container and plant.


Once you have created your terrarium, it should need little maintenance.

Place your new terrarium in the shade for a week, then move to appropriate spot in sunlight. Choose a spot close to a window, dependant on the type of plant you have, and how much light it will need.

Water the soil enough to keep the top layer of soil barely moist. Closed terrariums should rarely need watering.


Too much sun – leaves wilting

Too little sun thin, weak stems begin growing. Leaves appear fragile.

Too dry – moss will become brown

Too much water – terrarium walls have more than 25% condensation.

Fertilising is not necessary until at least a year after planting.

Happy planting!

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