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terrarium materials layout


Terrariums are great simple projects for any gardener. They’re easy to plant, easy to care for and look terrific in any environment.

They are small to medium-sized containers, typically made of glass, in which certain plants can flourish with little care. Terrariums prefer moderately bright light but need to be protected from direct sun which can burn the plants through the glass. Watering terrariums is quite simple. They only need a sparse watering every few weeks, as they mainly rely on condensation as a source of water.





1) You will first need to select a container to plant in. Just about any see-through container can be used. It can be one with a top or without. With a top, you will be creating a contained environment where very little additional water is required after the first watering. If you choose an open top, the soil will dry out faster and there will be less humidity around the plants. Container type may also determine what you choose to plant in it. For example, a succulent terrarium should only be planted in an open-topped vessel, whereas ferns will benefit from the high humidity of a closed container.

2) Provide adequate drainage by layering an inch or more of rock, pea gravel or sand on the bottom of your container.

3) Add an inch or ½  inch of garden charcoal above the drainage layer. This helps to filter the water and keep rot and odors at bay.

4) The final layer will be potting soil. Use a mix that has added drainage or you can add extra perlite, vermiculite or grit to potting soil for similar effect. Make sure you put enough soil in the container to support the root balls of your plants.


The most important thing to consider when choosing what to plant in a terrarium is uniform growing requirements, since your plants will all be treated with the same amount of sun, water and fertilizer. Some of the more common plants used for terrarium gardening are baby’s tears, ferns, polka dot plant, moss, prayer plant, parlor palm and ivy, but these are not the only options. Any small house plant can work as long as it has similar care requirements to the other plants around it.



Plant placement should depend on how you wish to view your terrarium garden. Will it be seen from all sides or just from the front? If it will be viewed from all sides, the tallest plants should be positioned in the center and you can build downward from there. If the view will be one-sided, place the tallest plant in the back and build forward. Adding a bit of whimsy to the garden such as a colorful rock or log may help to give it character. You’re trying to create a small nature scene, and different soil coverings can add to that effect and make it seem more realistic. Ultimately, the look and feel of your terrarium will depend on your personal preferences.


A completely enclosed terrarium requires little or no watering. The addition of water is only necessary if no condensation accumulates on the glass. In this case, water should be added a small amount at a time. If no condensation has appeared by the next day, more water should then be added. If excessive condensation forms on the top, the top can be left off until it dries. A dish garden or open terrarium should be watered just like a typical house plant.When in doubt, water less but watch carefully so that plants don’t wilt.

When fertilizing terrariums and dish gardens, use a very weak concentration of fertilizer. The plants should be carefully monitored; watch for yellowing leaves which indicate a need for more nutrients.

Looking for another plant? Search through our Plantopedia.