A Guide On How to Make a Terrarium


Time to read 5 min

Terrariums: A miniature world encapsulated in glass, where nature thrives and creativity blossoms. The allure of a terrarium lies in its ability to bring the beauty of the outdoors into your living space. They're aesthetically pleasing and easy to care for, making them perfect for seasoned plant enthusiasts and beginners. Keep reading to discover an easy-to-follow-along guide on How to Make a Terrarium Guide featuring pictures and a  variety of creative terrarium ideas and pic.

What Are Terrariums?

A terrarium is a self-contained, enclosed environment where plants can grow and flourish. Typically made of glass, the transparent walls allow bright light to enter, creating a mini greenhouse effect. This controlled ecosystem mimics the natural water cycle, where moisture evaporates and condenses, ensuring a self-sustaining environment.

To create a thriving terrarium, you must first know how to make the perfect soil mix and choose the right plants


The soil mix is a crucial component of a thriving terrarium. It should be well-draining and retain just the right amount of moisture. A popular choice is a blend of organic matter, perlite, sphagnum moss, and charcoal, providing a balanced environment for your plants' roots.

Organic Matter: Provides essential nutrients for your plants.

Perlite: Enhances drainage, preventing waterlogged soil.

Sphagnum Moss: Aids in moisture retention and creates a moisture gradient within the terrarium.

Charcoal: Keeps the soil fresh by absorbing odors and impurities.

Achieving the ideal soil ratios can be challenging. Balancing nutrition, aeration, drainage, and filtration is crucial. To simplify this process, we've formulated our Terrarium Soil Mix. Just give the bag a gentle shake before opening, and you're ready to go!

Birdy's Plants Terrarium Soil Mix made with coco coir, vermiculite, sand, charcoal, sphagnum moss, worm castings, and orchid bark.


Choosing suitable plants for your terrarium is crucial. Consider your plants' humidity and light preferences, which are the key factors. For closed terrariums, prioritize plants that thrive in high humidity. For open terrariums, you have more flexibility. Also, consider the location of your terrarium and select plants that align with the available light conditions of your home.  

Some fantastic terrarium plants include mosses, ferns (Artillery Fern, Button Fern, Maidenhair Fern), fittonias (nerve plant), aluminum plants, Maranta and Calathea (prayer plant), polka dot plant, ripple plant, baby tears or mother of thousands, African Violet, air plants, venus flytrap, Pilea (Pilea silver sparkle and Pilea Involuctrata), and various Begonia.

For a more comprehensive guide on which plants work for terrariums, check out this blog

So, how can I make a terrarium?


  • Glass container or terrarium tank
  • Leca/clay balls as a drainage layer
  • Lava rocks (optional)
  • Screen mesh or cheesecloth
  • Birdy’s Plants Terrarium Soil Mix or your chosen substrate
  • Live plants suitable for your chosen ecosystem
  • Decorative elements (rocks, driftwood, etc.) (optional)
  • Spray bottle for misting
Materials you

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Choose Your Glass Container: Decide on a glass container or terrarium tank that suits your preference. You can opt for a closed terrarium with a glass enclosure featuring a lid, cover, or doors. Alternatively, choose an open terrarium with a glass container that has an opening. Closed terrariums are ideal for plants that thrive in high humidity, while open terrariums suit plants like cacti, succulents, and others that don't require high humidity.

For this guide, we are using a closed terrarium.

A glass vessel that will used for our terrarium

2. Create a Drainage Layer: Add a layer of leca (clay balls) at the bottom of your container to facilitate water drainage and prevent root rot. This layer should be about 1-2 inches thick.

3. Install a Mesh Barrier: To separate the substrate from the drainage layer, cut a piece of metal mesh or, if using a cheesecloth, do a double layer and fit it to the container's dimensions. The dimensions don’t have to be precise, but ensure that most of the drainage layer is covered. This mesh prevents soil from mixing with the drainage layer and dirtying your enclosure. 

For this guide, we are using 8-16 mm leca and cheesecloth

Glass container with leca and cheesecloth
Glass container with leca and cheesecloth

4. Add Lava Rocks: (Optional) Place a thin layer of lava rocks on the drainage layer. The porosity of the lava rocks helps to increase drainage further. This step is optional.

5. Add Birdy’s Plants Terrarium Soil Mix: Carefully add our Terrarium Soil Mix on top of either the mesh barrier if you’ve chosen NOT to add lava rocks, or on top of the lava rocks if you’ve decided to add that extra drainage layer to your terrarium/vivarium. The substrate depth should be suitable for your plants' root systems, typically 2-4 inches.

6. Choose Your Plants: Select plants that thrive in the specific environment you want to replicate. Some common choices include ferns, mosses, bromeliads, and nerve plants. Arrange them according to your aesthetic preference.

For this guide, we are using lava rocks for extra drainage and cuttings of red nerve plant (fittonia), Tradescantia Callisia Repens f. variegata 'Pink Panther,' and Artillery Fern. 

Closed terrarium with various terrarium plants
We used chopsticks to plant our plants

7. Plant Your Plants: Once you have arranged your plants according to your preferred aesthetic, it is time to plant them. Grab a bit more of your soil mix and add it around your plants. If you are working with a small opening, you can use chopsticks or long tweezers to move the soil and plants around. 

8. Decorate: Enhance the visual appeal of your terrarium by adding decorative elements like rocks, driftwood, or miniature figurines. Be creative, but ensure these items won't harm your plants or animals.

9. Maintain Environmental Conditions: Place your terrarium appropriately, ensuring it receives the right light and temperature for your chosen plants. Use a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor conditions and adjust as needed.

10. Care and Maintenance: Regularly mist your terrarium with a spray bottle to maintain humidity. Water sparingly and avoid overwatering, as excess moisture can lead to mold growth. Prune and trim your plants as they grow to maintain the desired aesthetic.   

Various terrarium plants

You can further enhance your terrarium by making it into a bioactive terrarium.

What are Bioactive Terrariums?

Bioactive terrariums are living ecosystems in a confined space, where plants and various organisms coexist and interact. They mimic natural ecosystems and include layers of substrate, drainage, and live organisms. These terrariums are self-sustaining and provide a captivating way to observe nature in a controlled environment.

The term "bioactive" signifies the presence of living organisms such as insects, small invertebrates, microorganisms, and sometimes even small reptiles or amphibians within the terrarium. These organisms play various roles, like aiding in soil aeration, nutrient cycling, waste decomposition, and pest control.

An open terrarium with several terrarium plants including calathea and nerve plant (fittonia)

Terrariums are not only delightful to look at but also therapeutic. They offer a creative outlet and a piece of nature's tranquility right at home. Experiment with different plant combinations, container shapes, and sizes to craft your little green paradise.

Bring a touch of nature into your living space and create a self-sustaining terrarium with our guide. 

Let us do the hard work for you to help your terrarium thrive

Premium Terrarium Soil Mix

Birdy's Plant Premium Terrarium Soil Mix is a nutrient-rich, highly aerated, well-draining, and high moisture-retaining soil mix specially created for regular and bioactive terrariums. 

  • Comes in a 2L or 4L resealable bag
  • Ready to use

Additionally, this soil mix is

  • Safe for reptiles
  • Soilless
  • Peat-free
  • Compact resistant 
  • pH - balanced

Dive deeper into mastering plant care techniques with BP

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