If your room needs brightening up a little, it’s a great idea to inject some greenery, and terrarriums have never been more popular. Although you can buy them fully loaded, it’s much more fun to make one! Here’s a quick guide…

What you’ll need to make your terrarium


Pebbles or pea gravel


Selection of succulents


Protective gloves


how to make a terrarium


Succulents: The lazy person’s plant

If, like me, you’re not very green fingered, and your plants tend to wither and wilt pretty quickly, then succulents are definitely the way to go. They require little care, they don’t need excessive watering, and they’re a key ingredient in most terrariums!

Therefore, succulents are the first ingredient for piecing together your ingredient. Pop into your local garden centre and buy yourself a mix of succulents. It’s good to mix together a few different types, shapes and sizes, to achieve an interesting finish. You can even buy cacti online.

An aloe vera plant makes for a nice addition, since it varies greatly in look from your traditional stubby cactus.

Note: A few of the keener gardeners among you will notice that not all of the plants I used in my terrarium are succulents – a couple came from the outdoor section, but I’m just a maverick like that, and they’re surviving quite nicely!


Choosing a container

There’s really no rule book on the type of container to use when creating your terrarium – I’ve seen people use vases, pickle jars, fish bowls and even candle lanterns!

Personally, I just chose a terrarium off the shelf of Beckworth Emporium, my local garden centre (I’ll have a free afternoon tea for two for the shoutout, please).

It was a metal-framed angular unit with glass panelling, with one side open for hand access. You’ll find lots like it in your local gardening shop, and there will probably be a few other options, too – terrariums are a big trend right now!



Step one: Choose a plant layout

If you choose a closed-in terrarium like I did, where you can only put your hand in from one side, you need to be quite tactical in your approach, as you have to fill up the terrarium from the far side, and then work towards yourself.

Whilst your plants are all potted on your work surface, organise them into the layout you want.

Top tip: If you’ve got a pyramid-shaped terrarium like mine, and a tall plant such as an aloe vera, remember that it’ll probably have to sit in the centre on account of its height.


Step two: Create a soil base

Add some soil into the base of your terrarium. If you’re using a deep container, it looks quite nice to layer sand, gravel and soil in stripes, leading up to the level where your plants will sit.

If you’ve got a shallow container, you probably don’t have the room to be fiddling around with all that fanciness – so just stick to the soil. You also won’t need much, because the cacti come with a great deal wrapped around their roots.


terrarium tutorial


Step three: Start planting

Top tip: Put on your protective gloves before going any further. I starting planting my cacti without one, and I soon regretted it when my finger was lined with spines (do cacti have spines, or is that porcupines?)

Hold the cacti by its body, and gently squeeze the pot to loosen its soil and roots. The plastic should slip right off. Then it’s just a case of nestling the rooted clump into the soil bed – poking a suitable sized holeĀ  with your fingers helps.

Once it’s in, spread the soil around the cacti, to help integrate it into its new home. Now move onto the next plant in your chosen layout!


how to make a terrarium

terrarium cacti


Step four: Fill any blank space

Once your plants are in place, and they’re all surrounded by a level bed of soil, it’s an ordinary tradition to cover the soil over with pebbles; it adds a textured, wild-west surface to the whole thing.

If there are any big gaps, you might like to fill them with nice, smooth rocks like I did. Alternatively, I’ve seen people use sticks and pine cones. You can find all three of those things on a nice countryside or woodland walk!


Step five: Give the glass a wipe

What with poking holes in the soil and bedding plants into said holes, it’s not unusual for the inside glass of the terrarium to become a little grubby during the creation process. So you’ll likely have to give it a wipe with a cloth and some Windolene!



Final step: Put it in place!

Now that your terrarium is complete, it’s time to put it in place; whether it’s destined to sit on your coffee table, mantelpiece, book case, dining table or bedside unit. It’ll soon get to work brightening up the room and collecting the compliments from your friends and family!


finished terrarium


I hope you found that guide useful!

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