Garden BlogIndoor Plants Blog6 Steps to a great Terrarium

January 26, 2021

6 Steps to a great Terrarium.

Terrariums are an eye-catching way to bring greenery into your home.


Terrariums make great decor pieces as they are beautiful, low maintenance and can improve the air quality in your home. Choosing your terrarium glass and determining where it will go in your home will help you decide as to which plants are right for your terrarium. Most commonly is the open terrarium. They make plant maintenance and upkeep easy and are good for cacti and succulents or fast growing tropical plants. It is important to know that different species of plants cannot always be in a terrarium together. While cacti and succulents can be planted together and ferns and tropical plants together, they cannot thrive together. Each require different amounts of light, water and soil. You’ll want a basic or water retaining potting mix for the tropical plants and cactus soil for the cacti and succulents.


Tropical plants like ferns or pilea work need moisture retaining potting soil because they prefer humid conditions. This makes them capable of being planted in terrariums with small openings and enclosed terrariums.

Cacti and succulents need dry sandy soil so it is best to use an open terrarium that will retain less humidity as they prefer little water and drier environments.

Tillandsia’s also known as air plants are best for open wide mouth and hanging terrariums as they will need regular misting and an airflow. Air plants need no soil so they are great for simple and decorative terrariums.


Step by Step layering for planted Terrariums

Step one: Drainage layer. A drainage layer is to ensure excess water doesn’t stay in the soil causing the plants roots to rot over time. In most terrariums a minimum of two inches of pebbles and half and inch of charcoal is a sufficient drainage layer. Don’t be surprised if you see roots grow down into the drainage layer as your plant grows.

Step two: Filtering layer. Adding 1/2 and inch of charcoal can help prevent bacterial growth and mold from developing in the terrarium. For decorative purposes sphagnum moss can help prevent your soil from falling down through the drainage layer. Be cautious when using moss in higher humidity terrariums it can result in mold growth.

Step three: Potting Soil. After your drainage layers are in next is to use the proper potting soil for your plants. Succulents and Cacti need a cactus soil blend. They have a higher sand content making drainage better as these plants prefer dry breathable soil around their roots. While a basic potting mix works for most other tropical plants.

Step four: Choosing the right spot for each plant. If you choose multiple plants to go in your terrarium there are a few things to consider, for instance how tall they may grow. Take time to make sure you are happy with your placement before unpotting your plants take care to ensure that the leaves of your plants are not touching the sides of the terrarium.

Step five: Planting can be difficult in small spaces like terrariums. Carefully remove your plants from the pots making sure to keep the roots intact placing them in their chosen spots. Be sure you have the right tools to help you properly plant. Terrarium tools like spoons, small shovels and tongs can be used to help with proper placement and push down the soil in between your plants. Be careful to not leave any gaps or air holes when planting as it can encourage root rot and bacterial growth.
Step six: Adding a decorative top layer to the planted layer. Have fun with this step this is what makes terrarium special. Sand, pebbles or orchid bark. Shells, sticks and dried mosses or miniature figurines can all be incorporated, creating that home décor piece you will love forever.

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