How to make a terrarium

Want to learn how to make a terrarium? Use this simple guide to bring a bit of the outside in

How to make a terrarium
(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Want to learn how to make a terrarium? Terrariums are a lovely means of creating small gardens inside the house, and are often used to grow succulents and ferns. Planting flowering plants in an open-topped glass jar creates a pretty indoor garden that will bring colour and beauty into your home. Find out how to make a simple open terrarium in this guide – and find online suppliers for all the kit, below, too.

Get more garden ideas for plants and more at our dedicated page.

Psst... Struggling to get your hands on plants? Well they are key to making a terrarium, so we have also rounded up all the stores that you can order plants online from at the bottom of this feature. 

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

You will need:


This project was taken from The Winter Garden by Emma Hardy, published by CICO Books, and available at Amazon. 

Step one: layer the bottom of the jar 

Clean and dry the jar thoroughly before you start. Carefully place a layer of gravel in the bottom of the jar (adding it in handfuls rather than pouring it in, so that it does not shatter the glass). The gravel should be about 2cm thick and evenly spread over the bottom of the jar.

Step one of how to make a terrarium: add gravel

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Step two: add the charcoal powder

Sprinkle charcoal powder over the gravel, completely covering it. This will help to absorb odours from the potting compost, ensuring that the terrarium does not smell.

Step two of how to make a terrarium: add powdered charcoal

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Step three: Add the potting compost 

Check that the potting compost is damp before using—water it if necessary, letting it drain slightly before using it. Add the potting compost to the jar, making a layer about 5cm thick. Add it using a small scoop or your hand rather than pouring it in, so that it does not make too much mess inside the jar.

Step three of how to make a terrarium: add compost

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Step four: start planting out the terrarium

Take the hellebore (or alternative) out of its pot and carefully remove any excess soil from around the roots. Make a shallow dip in the potting compost inside the jar and place the hellebore in it, spreading the roots out a little and anchoring it in place with a little more potting compost if necessary, so that it sits firmly upright.

Step four of how to make a terrarium: plant up your larger plants

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Take the pansy from its pot and plant in the jar in the same way, placing it toward the back of the jar, next to the hellebore.

Step four of how to make a terrarium: plant up your smaller plants

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Add the fern, again removing excess soil from the roots, and plant toward the front of the jar, adding more potting compost if necessary. Firm around all three plants so that they sit firmly in the compost.

Step four of how to make a terrarium: plant up your smaller plants

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Step five: add the moss

Tear the sheet of moss into pieces and place them on the surface of the potting compost, around the plants. Make sure that all the potting compost is covered, adding smaller pieces of moss if necessary.

Step five of how to make a terrarium: add moss on top of the compost

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

Step six: clean up 

Using the soft paintbrush, clean up the inside of the jar and brush any bits of potting compost from the leaves and flowers to tidy them up.

Step six of how to make a terrarium: clean the sides

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

How to care for your terrarium 

Make sure that the potting compost remains moist but not too wet (stick your finger into the compost to check), watering sparely when necessary. Keep the terrarium indoors in a light spot and deadhead the pansy regularly. With the right conditions, the plants should keep flowering for several weeks or even months, but the foliage will look lovely too.

(Image credit: Debbie Patterson)

DIY terrarium kits

If buying all the various elements of this beautiful project seems too much like hard work, you can buy DIY terrarium kits from online retailers such as Amazon. Click the link to go straight to their dedicated page.

Where to buy plants online right now

Gardening Express
Plenty of plants in stock with everything from veg to bamboo to your perennial border plants. They are ensuring safe operation for their staff, delivery drivers and customers. Expect deliveries to take between 10 and 15 days to arrive.View Deal

Harrod Horticultural
You will find everything you need at Harrod Horticultural from greenhouse plants, seeds, tools and they sell lovely garden furniture too. It's ideal if you are starting a big garden project (might we suggest raised beds) and need to get everything in one order online. Note that new orders are expected to take up to four weeks to deliver.View Deal

Homebase: There's a decent range of plants, turf and seeds currently available at Homebase. Expect to wait up to 5 days for delivery. View Deal

Robert Dyas

Though their stores may be temporarily closed, Robert Dyas still stock plenty of garden supplies that you can order online. From bigger items like greenhouses and sheds to plant pots and decking, basically they have everything you need to get your garden looking gorgeous. There is a temporary minimum order spend of £50 on the site, but this does grant free delivery. However, deliveries are taking at least 14 days to arrive.View Deal

Read more gardening DIYs: 

Hebe Hatton
Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer. As a renter, she is always looking for creative ways to make her flat feel like home. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration.