How to make a Terrarium

I’ve always wanted a terrarium but it can be very expensive. Yesterday, I attended a workshop at Hort Park and finally learned to make one of my own. I can’t wait to make a few more out of empty glass jars lying around the house.

Terrarium was discovered by Dr Nataniel Ward in 1829 and was originally used to transport tropical orchids via sea to UK. Terrarium is a collection of compatible plants grown in an enclosed or partially enclosed clear container. It has to be clear to allow light for the plant to photosynthesize. Glass is perfect. Transparent plastics (like PC, PS or acrylic) is not advisable as they may break down over time.  

Plants that are suitable for terrarium must love humidity. Thus cacti, plants with hairy leaves and flowering plants (except African Violet if it’s stored in the air-conned office)are not suitable. Best suited are ferns, nerve plants, mini pitcher plants, goosefoot plant. Fertilizer is not recommended as you do not want the plant to grow too rapidly in an enclosed space.

Before you start, ensure all materials used – including the drainage layers, glassware – are cleaned and dry. (Just by rinsing with water – no need to sterilise them! :))

Materials: –

Suitable plants – 2 -3 depending on size of container.

Drainage layer (eg hydrotons, marbles or charcoal (recommended as it absorbs smell and toxic gases.)) – to collect excess water

Soil or compost mix – wet it first if too dry.

Mulch (coloured pebbles for decoration)

Water Spray


1) Layer drainage material about 1 cm height. Level by shaking the container. The total height of drainage/soil/mulch should be about 1/3 height of the container.

2) Put in a layer of soil slightly higher than the pot of your plant.

3) Use a spoon to dig a hole at the centre. Remove plant from pot gently and insert into hole. Use the spoon to level the soil. (Do not shake the container as you do not want to mix the layers.)

4) Put in a fine layer of mulch for decoration and also as weight to prevent soil from floating during watering.

5) Spray down the glass to clean the surface and also to water the plant. There is sufficient water if you see light condensation on the cover after 15 mins. If not, add more water.

6) Cover. (Leave container open if there is too much condensation and water droplets are rolling down the side.)

You may trim the plant if you some leaves are touching the side.



About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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6 Responses to How to make a Terrarium

  1. emale says:

    Hi Vicky,

    Just happen to pop by your site, while searching for Terrarium on the net. Your Terrarium is very simple and nice, I like it a lot 🙂

    Can I check with you, when do you but the materials and how much does it cost to make the one above?

    Thank you 🙂

    • vickychong says:

      Hi, I actually attended the course at Hort Park (Are you in Singapore too?) They provided everything for S$45. I came home and made a few more for friends. You can buy everything (except the glass jar. For that try Ikea) from Far East flora (At Thomson or Hort Park). If not, just get charcoal, soil from any large supermart. I got my baby plants from Ikea (S$4.50).

      Hope this helps!

  2. Chris says:

    I know how to do it but very hard to find the glass like yours n also all soil n pebbles n charcoal are in big bags but I only want to make 3 so what should I do or where can I get?

    • vickychong says:

      Dear Chris,
      You can get cheap jars at Ikea or Daiso (my friend also said Mustafa). I use coffee jars which I detach the rubber from the stopper lid. Unfortunately, it’s true about the charcoal and soil. You just need to pinch some from friends with gardens, The pebbles you can get in smalll bags from nursaries, or even Giant Supermarket.


  3. Nueyer says:

    I’ve been thinking of greening my office with a terrarium but I’m still doing online research on how to DIY one at low cost. Yours looks lovely!!

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