Terrariums are easy to build and enjoy

Glass jar. I paid $5.95 at T.J. Maxx.

Yesterday, I was at T.J. Maxx, and I found this lovely glass jar. Now, I could put M&M’S® in it, or dried cherries, or buttons, but . . . anymore, when I see a glass container, I want to layer soil, sand and pebbles to create a miniature world. Ever since I made some terrariums a couple of years ago, I can hardly stop myself. Although I have a few with open tops, it seems the closed environment works best for my laissez-faire, indoor plant care.

To put it another way, I seldom water. I am a terrible indoor-plant mother. Just ask my unfortunate, interior, foliar inhabitants. On second thought, please don’t.

When I discovered terrariums, it was a perfect marriage. With a glass top, you often don’t need to water for a year.

Rex begonia in a biscuit jar from shhhh . . . Wal-Mart

Yes, you read that right. A year.

Here is a prime example. This biscuit jar came from Wal-Mart because it was cheap, about $5.00 or $6.00. I can’t remember exactly how much I spent. It isn’t as graceful as the more delicate jars, but once I added soil, a few plants, and one rex begonia which later took over, I think it’s quite nice. I barely notice it on the sofa table, but there it sits, keeping me company through the long winter.

By my bedside, I have another jar which came from a small antique shop. You can find these jars almost anywhere. Just make sure  it has a large enough opening to get your hand down into it.

The finished product.

So, here’s what you’ll need:

  • One glass container. I like clear glass best myself. Lets in more light and magnifies the plant or whatever you place inside.
  • Potting soil, any good one you can find. I don’t buy the ones with chemical fertilizers. You don’t need much fertilizer at all so I just use a basic, potting soil.
Sometimes, I place a decorative plate on top of the open terrariums to increase the moisture for awhile.
  • Pebbles, rocks, tumbled glass, pretty sand or whatever you like. Michael’s has a great selection, but so does Hobby Lobby for that matter. I found this tumbled glass, the color of Coke bottles, at Michael’s. I need more to finish the terrarium above.
  • Plants. Choose small and try tropical ones which like a wet environment. I saw some cute little ones at our local nursery, TLC. I hate to give TLC a plug because yesterday, their marquee shouted loud and proud about pre-emergent herbicide and the elimination of broad-leaf weeds. Then, when I walked inside, the store reeked of chemicals. However, in winter, they are about the best place to go for small, interesting tropicals. Also, sometimes, Wal-Mart has them locally. I know, everyone hates on Wal-Mart, but I live out in the boondocks of Oklahoma. I don’t have that many places to shop. I did stop by Under the Sun and found two small plants. Under the Sun really should capitalize on the terrarium thing in winter.
  • Add anything you find interesting to create your scene. Two Green Thumbs has several cute things in various scales. I’m not much of a fairy gardener except when it comes to those under glass. There’s just something about putting small items inside which appeals to my little girl heart. Whatever items you choose, make sure they’re waterproof. Things get wet in these glass enclosures. A wee gazing ball would be nice.
  • A watering can or sink spray nozzle to gently water the interior. I found a copper, greenhouse Hawe’s watering can for nearly nothing on ebay.com.

To assemble. Wash your container and dry it until it shines. Place a layer of pebbles or soil in the bottom. After choosing plants, put between one and three in the enclosure. If something later dies, don’t worry. These plants cost about $2.50 to $4.50 apiece so you can afford to get another one.  Just replace, water and move on.

Next, place some pebbles, or make a small path of stones in your terrarium and organize it to suit you. Terrariums are creative spaces for those of us who miss the outdoors too much in winter or when we’re cooped up otherwise.

Gently water.

Top it with the lid, and you’re all done. Fun huh?

If you make one of your own, take a picture and upload it with your comment. I’d like to see what you’ve done.



  1. Hi Dee: I posted about my terrarium today. Thanks for all the info and ideas for additional terrariums!

  2. RobinL says:

    I am also a terrible indoor plant mother, is this confession time? And I have oodles of houseplants! Why is it I don’t have any terrariums? Note to self, go shopping! Dee, can you do me a favor and make a note of my new blog address? My old one was deleted due to someone else’s fraud! Grrrrr. http://lifeinrobinsnest.blogspot.com/

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Robin, we terrible indoor plant mothers must stick together. Terrariums are fun and relieve the guilt. 🙂

  3. Les says:

    I am glad to see terrariums making a comeback and the you are ahead of the curve. We have seen a little interest at work and two of my coworkers are experimenting with different containers and plants. We are also putting out feelers to see if any of our customers would be interested in a workshop.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Les, I think they are making a comeback. I even found some plants in the local nursery, grown smaller and labeled as “terrarium plants.” Yea! I think you should do a workshop. I’m thinking about doing one at my house for my friends and maybe one of my garden clubs.

  4. Robin Ripley says:

    Nicely done! I’m so glad terrariums are popular again.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Robin.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Oh, this sounds like a perfect project for me and my daughter! Plus, it solves the indoor watering (or lack thereof) issue! BRILLIANT!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Cynthia, it really is so much fun and not hard to do. Water it the first time more than you think you should. I want to see yours when it’s finished. Kay?

  6. in girl scouts my daughter made a terrarium in a peanut butter jar that lasted for years without any attention at all. the moss reached amazing heights in all that humidity; some of it grew to six inches tall! i might have watered it once or twice in five years. i liked taking the lid off and breathing in the oxygen in there every now and then. don’t you love the smell inside a terrarium? like lisa, i have a big jar (target, $13.97) waiting for plants now. thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Daricia, I love this story. I like moss a lot and wished I could find some good moss for this foray. I could have ordered it. 🙂 I do love the smell of a terrarium. All that goodness.

  7. I was just eyeing some glass containers at my house the other day contemplating terrariums. Thank you for the info and tips.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Go for it and show me what you create. What fun it will be.

  8. deb says:

    My sister gave me a lovely glass jar as a gift last year. I’m going to plant it up as soon as I get home.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Deb, I can’t wait to see what you do. Every one of them is different, and that’s what makes them special.

  9. Those are so pretty. I am also a chronic underwaterer of indoor plants, so terrariums should be just the thing for me. Your post is such an inspiration.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hey MMD, I think you would really love these. They are easy, and if covered don’t need a lot of work once finished.

  10. Layanee says:

    It is so easy to get caught with the ‘terrarium’ bug isn’t it? They are so very pretty with that shining glass and green life inside. Well, not green if it is one of those colorful begonias but they are just that much prettier. I have made a few more since my Christmas present gifts.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes, Layanee, it certainly is. I’ve enjoyed my time participating in the madness of it all.

  11. Frances says:

    Those are really lovely, Dee. I like the colored glass, too. We live where the biggest big box store is often the only place for many miles where we can get certain necessities like thread for sewing or yarn for knitting, or glass jars for terrariums and plants, too.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Frances, I can see them in a light blue glass especially. I love that splendid color don’t you? Yes, although people see box stores as a blight on the landscape, here they are essential. We have virtually nothing else. And, you know I tout the local nurseries who are really trying too like Whispering Springs and Bustani. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Gail says:

    Yes, a lot of fun! Yours are all lovely Dee. I have one small one for now, but, think I may plant more and soon. xogail

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I can’t wait to see it. My new one is pretty small.

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your post will kick me into gear. I have two glass jars awaiting my attention. I have had a terrarium for several years and I BROKE it the other day. Just makes me sick because I paid big bucks for the glass jar. I have replaced it with one of those $5 jars. I will probably have it the rest of my life. ha… Love the looks of the begonia. I can never get them to over winter. I have to get tropicals that need low light. They do well in my terrariums. Thanks for the nudge.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, how fun about the new jars. I’m so sorry your other one broke. I’ve found the rex begonias love the moist interior of the terrarium, and it’s the only way I can grow them.

  14. Dee I have been dying to make one and then to find the time to shop and put it together…I will have to make some time since I really want one or 2…If I do get one made I will also link in to you…you make it so easy…thx!!!!

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