Build Your Own Terrarium

By TamilNadu Agricultural University on 25 Apr 2016 | read

A terrarium is a collection of plants growing in a glass-enclosed container. A small garden in a glass container is easy to make and to care for Many different containers and plants can be used- whatever is available to you. In addition to plants, you can add rocks(stones), shells or pieces of bark to create miniature scenes. This indoor gardening activity can give pleasure to you and your family or friends. Also, a terrarium is a good idea for a gift.

How it works? 
The glass walls allow light to reach the plants and give protection from dust, drafts, and temperature changes. The plants usually used are ones that require a high amount of moisture. Therefore, the terrarium is set up to provide a highly humid atmosphere, which means that the air contains lots of water. It works in this way, Plants give off water from their leaves in the form of gaseous water vapor. When air in the container comes in contact with the cooler glass walls, the water vapor condenses, or becomes liquid. This water runs down the sides of the container and soaks into the soil on the bottom. The water is then available for the plants to take up through their roots. The water can be used over and over again, so you will rarely need to water your terrarium. To keep the humidity high, you should always have a lid on the container to prevent the water from escaping.Image title

You will need

Fertilizer (optional)
Drainage material
Tools for planting


You will need a glass container clear enough to see through. Cloudy or tinted glass reduces the amount of light the plant receives. Any size container will do, depending on the number of plants you are using. The container should have a removable cover to control moisture. A piece of glass or plastic can be used if your container does not have a lid. 

Fish bowls
Fish tanks or Aquarium
Candy Jars
Glass bowls
Brandy Snifter
Conical flask,
glass beakers or any transparent glass container can be used

Enough soil is needed to make a 1½-inch to 2-inch layer in the bottom of the container. Thesoil should be porous to allow good drainage. It should be slightly moist for planting. Equal parts of garden soil, sand, and peat moss(1:1:1). 

Drainage Material:
Since terrarium has no drainage holes as that of your out door pots, Provision must be made for the escape of excess water. A layer of moss on the bottom of the terrarium can serve as a drainage layer in very small containers. For large containers Broken pieces of clay flower pots or charcoal, or a layer of sand or fine gravel may be added before the moss layer

Use small plants that grow slowly. Plant should fill the container but not crowd it. You can collect plants from your garden, local nurseries etc.This only a Suggested list and not an exhaustive one,

Syngonium species
Sansevieria species
Bilbergia species
Aechmea species
Cryptanthus species
Selaginella (Creeping Moss, Peacock Fern, Spreading Clubmoss, Resurrection Plant)
Hedera helix (small-leaf varieties)
Pellionia (Watermelon Pellionia, Satin Pellionia)
Maranta species (Herringbone Plant, Rabbit's Tracks, Prayer Plant)
Peperomia species
Peperomia species
small ferns
Fitonia species (Snakeskin Plant, Little Snakeskin Plant, Nerve Plant, Little Nerve Plant, Painted Net Leaf, Silver Net Leaf)
Money plant (Pothos)
Prayer plant (Maranta bi-color)
Pilea (Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny, Aluminum Plant, Friendship Plant, Artillery Plant)
Helxinesoleirolii (Mind Your Own Business Plant, Baby's Tears)

Accessories (This adds beauty and variety)
Coloured pebbles
Small toys
Stones etc

After selecting a container, plan your terrarium layout. You can arrange plants in whatever design you wish. You may want to include small pebbles, some driftwood, or even stones to create interest, but don’t clutter your plan with too many ornaments; they will only ruin its natural look

Consider how the terrarium will be displayed. Viewed mainly from one side, plan to build toward theback of the container. Extra soil, moss, and larger plants can be placed toward the back, with smaller plants clustered toward the front. 

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Tools required:

Fork cum Rake

Care and maintenance:
Once your terrarium is planted with suitable plants, the aftercare part is easy, Water sparingly, Give it light- not direct sunlight, diffused or indirect light or near artificial light sources Pinch and prune whenever necessary