How To Make Glass Container Terrariums

An open terrarium.
An open terrarium. | Source

Terrariums In Vogue Again

Terrariums have made a comeback. They bring nature into your home. Their creation adds a complete ecosystem to any room. Terrariums were extremely popular in the Victorian era and, as anything vintage is in, terrariums are again rising in popularity. Anyone, green thumb or not, can create a beautiful work of living art in under two hours. Have trouble remembering to water your plant? A terrarium is the perfect plant companion for you. Open or closed, terrariums require little maintenance as the mini water cycle which occurs even in an open terrarium will mean much less watering for your plants. Terrariums can be created large or small. Your choice of container will determine the size and complexity of the plant ecosystem you create.

Materials for a simple glass container terrarium.
Materials for a simple glass container terrarium. | Source

Materials For Making a Terrarium

  • glass container with or without a lid, small or large
  • small plants of varying textures and colors
  • gravel, stone or beach glass pieces (enough to cover the bottom of your container 2 inches deep)
  • activated charcoal or orchid mix containing charcoal
  • sterile potting soil without fertilizer added (you do not want these plants growing large quickly)
  • large spoon

Steps For Making An Open Terrarium

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Two inches of washed gravel.About 1/2 inch of orchid mix with activated charcoal placed on top of the gravel.Two to four inches of sterile potting soil placed on top of the orchid mix.  Make sure the plants will sit for the most part within your glass vessel.After making a hole for the plants, place each plant in one at a time making sure the roots of each plant are completely covered.The completed open terrarium.
Two inches of washed gravel.
Two inches of washed gravel. | Source
About 1/2 inch of orchid mix with activated charcoal placed on top of the gravel.
About 1/2 inch of orchid mix with activated charcoal placed on top of the gravel. | Source
Two to four inches of sterile potting soil placed on top of the orchid mix.  Make sure the plants will sit for the most part within your glass vessel.
Two to four inches of sterile potting soil placed on top of the orchid mix. Make sure the plants will sit for the most part within your glass vessel. | Source
After making a hole for the plants, place each plant in one at a time making sure the roots of each plant are completely covered.
After making a hole for the plants, place each plant in one at a time making sure the roots of each plant are completely covered. | Source
The completed open terrarium.
The completed open terrarium. | Source

Instructions For Making A Glass Container Terrarium

  1. Choose your container, either one with a lid or an open container.
  2. Carefully put two inches of gravel or stone in the bottom of the glass container. Place the gravel with a large spoon so as to not crack or chip the glass.
  3. Place about ½ inch of activated or horticultural charcoal or orchid mix containing horticultural charcoal on top of the gravel. This mixture will keep your container sweet smelling by preventing bacterial growth.
  4. Place two or three inches of sterile potting soil over the orchid mix. Tap the soil firmly to remove air pockets.
  5. Create a planting hole for the first plant making sure the roots will fit in easily. Don't worry if you dig into the orchid mix and gravel a bit.
  6. Trim your plant if necessary and place it into the hole. Making sure all roots are covered, tap the soil down firmly.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for all plants to be included in your terrarium.
  8. Water generously, making sure that the soil is damp but not sopping wet.
  9. Place in an area that receives low to medium sunlight - an east facing, north, north-east or north-west location is best.
  10. If your terrarium is a closed one, keep a careful watch on it for a day or two. If it is in a continual state of condensation, or mold appears, take off the lid for a while to release excess moisture.
  11. Enjoy the serenity of your creation!

Choosing Plants For A Terrarium

The plants you choose should have the following three characteristics:

  1. They should prefer high humidity.
  2. They should remain small or grow slowly.
  3. They should prefer a low to medium light source.

If you choose plants that grow faster than expected, don't worry. Any plant which grows too tall or wide can be trimmed when necessary. As it is a growing ecosystem, plant trimming will be necessary once in a while to keep your terrarium looking good.

Plants Suitable For An Open Or Closed Terrarium

Easy
Selaginella mosses
ferns
More Difficult
Rhizomatous begonias (miniature)
Members of the African violet family such as chiritas, African violets, streptocarpus, episcias
Ivies (miniature)
Muehlenbeckia complexa – maidenhair vine
Croton
Pothos
Cracaena
Lucky Bamboo
Prayer Plant
Creeping Fig
Polka Dot Plant
Fittonia
Pilea
Peperomia
Baby's Tears
Ficus Primula
Podocarpus
Tillandsias — air plants
Even an open terrarium will act as a miniature ecosystem having a working water cycle in miniature.  As it is an open system it will need more frequent watering than a closed terrarium.
Even an open terrarium will act as a miniature ecosystem having a working water cycle in miniature. As it is an open system it will need more frequent watering than a closed terrarium. | Source

Glass Container Terrariums For Home, Gifts And School

Glass container terrariums make wonderful additions to your home décor. They make beautiful centerpieces or accents in all but the most brightly lit areas. After trying a few for yourself, make one as a gift. They will make a lasting and cherished tribute to a friend or relative on their special day or for someone who needs cheering. Any classroom would benefit from a terrarium or two. They are an excellent means of teaching ecosystem principles to children from primary to high school. Especially in a closed terrarium, this mini ecosystem provides an excellent demonstration of the water cycle.

Hunt out those forgotten glass containers. Clean them well and hunting in your local supermarket or local greenhouse buy some interesting miniature plants and try your hand at the art of making a terrarium.

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Comments 27 comments

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

I like how you explain the purpose of each step, for instance, you make it clear about the reason why we don't want to have fertilizer in the soil mix. It all makes sense, but had you not mentioned it, I would have been the one to buy the soil with fertilizer thinking it was better - not realizing how critical soil without fertilizer was to the balance of the environment. Excellent instructions and pictures for a wonderful project.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thank you so much MarleneB. I hope you get a chance to create a terrarium yourself. I love the beauty and feeling of serenity they bring!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Theresa, thank you for this hub. Years ago I made a terrarium in a watercooler glass container -- it turned out beautiful and I so enjoyed it. I have since forgotten how to construct and care for a terrarium. Now I can once again have a beautiful and mystical garden in my home with your instructions. Thanks for the reminder.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

My pleasure Phyllis, I am so happy I inspired you to try this out again. There are so many more choices of container available and no longer at exhorbitant prices. Good luck!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Thanks, Teresa. I have a large, round vase that slopes in to a narrow top opening -- I think it would be perfect for a terrarium.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California

Fantastic information for new Terrarium builders. These have always fascinated me. My Grandmother would have a few around her house at all times. But, I never completely understood the " ecosystem" that drives the survival of these tiny environments. Love it! Great pictures too. Sharing for sure!

HubHugs


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

I remember doing this as a kid, but I didn't remember how. Thanks for the clear instructions. With this technique I might be able to have some plants in my home that actually survive!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Phyllis I would love to see a picture when you are done. So glad you found my hub useful!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub, K9. I love plants and I'm enjoying the two I've made so far. I'm working on a complementary lesson plan using terrariums to teach about the water cycle!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Doc, even us brown thumbed individuals can make a terrarium. I hope you give it a try! Your grand kids might enjoy making one with you.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

This looks so easy and I have just the vase to be able to do this with. Thank you for sharing these ideas.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

You are so very welcome Rosemay. They are a joy to create!


LetitiaFT profile image

LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

I love this. I have seen that terrariums are back "in", and saw the perfect jar for one the other day, but was pretty sure there were tricks to it and didn't get it. Here you've explained those tricks and I'm looking forward to trying it. Thanks.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

LetitiaFT I'm so glad you found the instructions helpful. Terrariums of all kinds are a delight. Good luck with yours!


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

I have always thought these terrariums were so pretty.. thank you for sharing such wonderful instructions. I saw a few the other day made with lightbulbs! I may have to give this a try. Thank you again for sharing... Voting up!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I saw the same and thought they would make a beautiful recycled material craft. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Jamie!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What a great Hub! Great pictures and step by step instructions.

It is only with great effort that I am restraining myself from jumping in the car and going to buy terrarium supplies and plants. Guess I should be responsible and go grade papers, but its not nearly as much fun as thinking about terrariums. Sharing.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks so much Theresa. You made my day. Maybe a terrarium to brighten your work space would make marking papers more fun!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I was totally thinking, "Christmas Gifts" as I was reading this. I love this idea and hadn't thought of it before. I'm bookmarking so that I'll be able to refer back to this when I'm making my presents. :D Voted up/tweeted/pinned.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I was thinking the same Cyndi. I am scoping out our thrift stores for interesting containers to use. Thanks so much for the share!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What a good idea! A terrarium in my office at the university. :)


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I know plants inspire me Theresa!!!!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

What a great idea! I was thinking of making a terrarium for my living room but I did not know how to do it. Thanks for your step by step hub. I will be looking forward to make this. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

What a great idea! I was thinking of making a terrarium for my living room but I did not know how to do it. Thanks for your step by step hub. I will be looking forward to make this. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

ThanksThelma I wish you luck with your project. I'm sure it will be a beautiful addition to your living room.


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

This is a stellar instructional hub. I love anything to do with growing things. When I was a young girl I made my first Terrarium through my 4H club and have been enjoying them ever since.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

shiningirisheyes, thank you so much for the high praise. I'm so glad you found it useful. Terrariums are so very beautiful. I am enjoying the creativity they inspire!

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