How to make your own terrarium at home, including what plants to buy

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Lauren Geall
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Terrariums aren’t just an easy way to bring greenery into your home – they’re a great craft project for a rainy lockdown afternoon. Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to making your very own terrarium, including what plants to buy and how to look after them.

We all know how beneficial it can be to bring plants into our home, but for many people, finding the space to house a load of leafy friends can be difficult.

However, if you’re still keen to bring a bit of greenery into your home, there are still plenty of options available that don’t take up lots of space – one of which is the humble terrarium.

Over the last couple of years, terrariums have surged in popularity – and it’s not hard to see why. 

On top of the fact that, as we’ve already mentioned, they’re a compact way to bring plants into your home, they’re also great decorative items and are pretty easy to look after and maintain in the long run.

“Terrariums are great for low maintenance city living or if you don’t have a garden, as you can watch the plants grow without interfering with them too much,” explains Emma Sibley, co-founder of London Terrariums. “They are perfect if you travel a lot or are just bad at remembering to water your plants!”

Sibley continues: “In a closed terrarium, the heat and oxygen the plants produce as they photosynthesise collects and condensates on the inside of the glass and creates a stable and humid environment, meaning you rarely need to water them.”

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Although there are plenty of pre-made terrariums available to buy online, it’s actually pretty easy to make your own terrarium if you fancy it. While you’ll need to buy a few essential ingredients (including your choice of plants) you can actually find a lot of what you’ll need around the house. 

To find out more about making your very own terrarium, including the best terrarium plants to buy for your home, check out our guide below.

What kind of container do you need to make a terrarium? 

A terrarium with nerve plants inside
There are plenty of different terrarium container options available to choose from.

First things first, you’re going to need a container to create the foundation of your terrarium.

If you fancy splashing the cash, there are loads of tailor-made terrarium containers available to buy online, both with and without a lid. For an open terrarium (aka, without a lid), we love the look of this oversized vase from Habitat; for a closed terrarium, this canopy shaped container from LSA International would make a great option.

However, if you don’t have loads of money to spend on a terrarium container, there are still plenty of ways to get started. Items that you can find around the house such as empty jam jars, candle containers and spirit bottles make great options – and if you don’t have any of those hanging around, you can even adapt an old plastic bottle by cutting off the top to create a wider opening.

What other ingredients do you need to make a terrarium?

Once you’ve got your container sorted, there are a few key ingredients you’ll need to get together to give your terrarium a solid base.

  • Some small stones or pebbles – any gravel you might have in your garden or on a driveway would work well.
  • Soil – some good quality potting soil would be your best option.
  • Some small tools – terrariums can get pretty fiddly, so you’ll want something like a chopstick or pencil to guide things into place. You can also buy purpose-made tools to help you take care of your terrarium in the future.
  • Activated charcoal – it’s not something you’re going to have lying around, but it’s pretty easy to find and helps to keep the water in your terrarium fresh and stops bacteria from growing.
  • Decorations – add a theme to your terrarium by introducing little decorative objects, or add in some moss to give your plants a colourful base. 

Which plants work well in a terrarium?

A terrarium is a unique environment, so picking plants that are suited to that environment will ensure your terrarium stays healthy for years to come. According to Sibley, it’s important to pick your terrarium plants based on whether you have an open or closed terrarium, as closed terrariums have higher humidity levels.

Open Terrariums 

Plants that enjoy open terrariums include aloe, cacti, succulents and reindeer moss. These kinds of terrariums thrive in bright sunlight, and will need watering every two-three weeks with a pipette.

Closed Terrariums

Plants that thrive in closed terrariums include nerve plants, maranta, ficus ginseng, ficus pumila and Korean rock fern. Closed terrariums are a lot more self-sufficient and will only need watering a few times a year with a spray bottle – just make sure to keep them out of direct sun and heat. 

How to plant your terrarium

Once you’ve got all of your ingredients sorted (including your plants) all that’s left to do is put them all together!

To do this, simply layer the bottom of your terrarium with the pebbles, scatter some of the activated charcoal on top and add in a good amount of potting soil. Once that’s all sorted, all that’s left is to plant your plants (ensuring they’re not too squished in) and enjoy!

For more information on looking after your terrarium, including any problems you might face, you can check out London Terrarium’s website for more advice.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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