Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Make: a terranium

I have been obsessively collecting beautiful pictures of terrariums on Pinterest for a while now. They are so tiny and pretty and I finally got round to making one. After lots of research on the internet it seems you need a few key things:

  • gravel/small stones - I used those tiny pebbles you can buy from an aquarium shop
  • horticultural charcoal to keep the terrarium clean and fresh - I couldn't find this so a few places again referred me to the type used in fish tanks, and I bought a bag of this
  • compost: I managed to find one specifically for cactus and succulents at my local garden centre, but normal compost will do
  • cactus, succulents, plants that can survive somewhere dry and will not grow too big
  • pretty pebbles and accessories like tiny beasts
  • a glass bowl or vase

Bear in mind you want the top level of the compost to fill the bowl to about 2/3 giving your plants room so they mostly sit inside the bowl. First up carefully put in a layer of pebbles, mine were about an inch deep. Then add a thin layer of the charcoal just to cover the pebbles, carefully because if you mix up the layers, it can look a bit of a mess.

Give your plants a bit of a water before you put them in the terrarium as you will want to leave them a few days to settle before watering them again. Take them out of their pots and fiddle around with placement, experiment with what looks best and think about where you want to put any rocks etc and how these will fit in.

When you are happy with their placement, fill in the gaps carefully with compost (I used a spoon), again, try not to mix with the layer below.

Once the plants are in, use a paint brush to clear the compost off the plants. Warning: this is fun.

After I had finished putting the plants in, I was surprised how disappointing it looked. But the terrarium was completely transformed by some rocks and shells.

We always come back from the beach with a few precious rocks that we have collected, this is the perfect home for them.

I also found these tiny animals to roam our new mini world, this polar bear lives with a particularly fierce cactus, I spent a long time tweezing splinters from that out of my hand.

Terrariums are really easy to maintain, don't be tempted to over water them or risk it going moldy. Keep an eye on the plants to make sure they are all doing ok and give them the occasional tweak and prune. And enjoy! I love our 2 they are a source of fascination to all visitors to our house big and small. 

Have you ever made one? I would love to have a few hanging ones too.


  1. Looks great, I may give it a try.

  2. I just repotted all my succulents and cacti and didn't think of making a terrarium! I didn't think of using a paint brush to clean of the dirt....may have to do that now! Off to find one!