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How to Build a Terrarium

By: Sherri RibbeySherri Ribbey
Add some green to your home during the winter months with a terrarium! Let us show you how to build one of these little charmers.

How to build a terrarium

Bring the garden inside with a terrarium

All it takes is a few hours to build a terrarium and you’ll have plants to enjoy year round. We’ll walk through how to choose the right materials and how to care for your terrarium. Scroll down for the materials list, and be sure to click through the slideshow for detailed, step-by-step instructions with photos! Let’s get started.

What to use as a container for a terrarium

You can use any type of clear glass container for a terrarium, but remember that the bigger it is, the more soil there will be and the less you’ll have to water. Also, a larger mouth makes it easier to get things inside — the opening for this one is a little more than 6 in. There’s a lid for this container, which helps regulate moisture, but it’s not absolutely necessary. They even make small glass "houses" that make for a fun container.

What to plant in your terrarium

There are lots of terrarium plants to choose from. Just make sure they all have the same light and moisture requirements. You can showcase a single specimen or group several together. Look for a mix of foliage shapes and colors and different growth habits to keep it interesting. In this one I combined a fern for height, a couple variegated plants and some red and chartreuse for a pop of color.

Terrarium Care Tips

  • Most terrarium plants do well with the indirect light of a north-facing window.
  • Direct summer sun, especially with the lid on, will overheat the container and plants will die.
  • You shouldn’t have to water very often, especially if you put the lid on at night. Do a quick check with your finger and if it’s dry, water.
  • These miniature gardens don’t last forever. You’ll need to refresh your planting eventually so you can continue to enjoy it all year.

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Project Supplies for building a terrarium project

Supplies you will need to build a terrarium



  • Spoon
  • Paint brush
  • Chopstick
  • Scoop
  • Scissors


Terrarium plant List

Here are the plants that we used in our terrarium, but there are no hard and fast rules, you can experiment with different types of plants that you like!

A) Fern Pellaea rotundifolia
B) Nerve plant Fittonia spp.
C) Peperomia Peperomia spp.
D) Golden clubmoss Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’
E) Aluminum plant Pilea cadierei minima
F) Polka dot plant Hypoestes phyllostachya

How to build a terrarium

Follow our simple step-by-step instructions to create your own terrarium in the slideshow below.

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Published: Dec. 4, 2018
Updated: Dec. 14, 2020

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