How to make a terrarium in 9 simple steps

Fun to make and easy to nurture, these mini jungles are shaping the plantscape.

Bringing the outdoors in is a trend with benefits. Sprouting up in home décor everywhere are houseplants and flowers to counter life’s modern stresses. Filling your home with greenery is a natural way to boost your mood. The most stress-free plant pals of all? Terrariums!

We garnered the expertise of terrarium specialist Malou, of plant and accessory shop Wildernis, to walk us through making our own open terrarium with a bloomon twist — using a vase and flowers.

You’ll need:

Small bloomon vase
Large paintbrush
Watering can
Water spray

Inside the terrarium:

Hydroton clay pebbles (or terracotta shards)
15-30g activated carbon
Organic potting soil
1 bag of common moss
Selection of terrarium plants (more on this below)

Which plants work best?

Get creative with the inhabitants in your terrarium; you can mix plants from different habitats and still have a healthy terrarium.

Top terrarium plants: Ferns, Fittonia verschaffeltii (mosaic plant), Hedera helix (common ivy) , Phlebodium aureum, Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Peperomia caperata 'Variegata', Pilea involucrata (friendship plant), Cryptanthus bivittatus (starfish plant), African violet.

We used: Fittonia, Hypoestes, Muehlenbeckia, fern, Adiantum pedatum, and a mini Phalaenopsis ‘Butterfly’ orchid.

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The step-by-step guide to making a terrarium

Step 1: Clean slate

Clean your vase thoroughly to remove bacteria and get it sparkling — you want to see those plants grow!

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Step 2: Pebble up

Pour the hydroton clay pebbles into your vase. Aim for a layer of 2-3 pebbles.

Clay pebbles are the all-important drainage layer. “The clay absorbs excess water and keeps plants happy,” Malou adds.

Step 3: Carbon filter

Next, add 15-30g of activated carbon.

Activated carbon acts as a water filter, which helps extend the life of your terrarium. “Don’t shake your vase,” Malou exclaims; “if the carbon sinks, it can’t do its function.” Steady on!

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Step 4: Soil and earth

Next, add soil. The layer should be about 5-6 cm deep.

Flatten the earth with the back of your hand so that it's loosely packed and level. Malou recommends using organic soil, “it’s clean and high in nutrients needed for a healthy terrarium.”

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Step 5: Get creative with plants

Start with the focus plant (in our case, the orchid). Dig a hole with your hand — you can use a tool, but we love any reason to play in the mud — depot the orchid and plant it in the soil.

Step 6: Keep adding plants

Add plants to your terrarium as you like. Gently take it from the pot, pull a part of the plant and shake the soil from the roots with your fingers. Dig a little hole with your hand and nestle it in. Don’t worry too much about the roots, they’ll grow down naturally.

ProTip: Why use only a part of the plant? A less is more philosophy works best with terrariums. It’s alive and will grow, you don’t want to overcrowd your indoor garden.

Step 7: Moss magic

Soak the moss for 5-10 minutes in water (rainwater is best!) then pull it apart into smaller, workable sections. Spread it around your terrarium, gently patting it into place. Take a close look at your moss — if you see any worms, snails or fungi hitching a ride, remove them. You don’t want them in your terrarium!

ProTip: “Use the wooden end of the paintbrush to get into small spaces and push the moss into place,” says Malou.

Step 8: Brush it lush

With the paintbrush, gently brush down any dirt or moss particles off the glass, to give it a nice clean finish.

Step 9: Wonder water

Water your homemade terrarium. Then, with a spray bottle filled with water, spray the leaves and moss 3-5 times.

Voilà! Enjoy your calming indoor garden.

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“Taken good care of, your terrarium will grow for years. Your own mini jungle!”

– Malou, terrarium specialist at Wildernis

Terrarium care

Terrariums are fantastically easy to maintain, but here are the best care tips to remember.

The ideal spot for you terrarium is out of all-day direct sun, but somewhere that gets natural daylight. Perhaps a bookshelf or side table, away from radiators.

Water once a week, or as needed. If you notice browning leaves or moss, spray with water.

Leave dead leaves in the terrarium, they’ll provide nutrition for the mini ecosystem.

We always love to hear from you! Tell us what plants you like to use in a DIY terrarium or how would style yours. Share photos of your terrarium on Facebook and on Instagram using #bloomon.

A special thank you to Wildernis for collaborating with us and providing the plants. Check out their plants and other products at @wildernisamsterdam.

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