DIY Terrariums in a Jar Tutorial


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I’ve always loved terrariums. It must the the miniature plants and their arrangement that makes you want to shrink down to ant-size and explore the contained little world. It doesn’t take much to make a terrarium — it can be done with plants found around your garden and jars saved in your house. The only special item you’d need is activated charcoal, which can be found at any pet supply store in the aquarium section (by the water filters).

Living in Southern California and being semi-lazy gardeners, we opt for plants that are drought tolerant and low maintenance — a perfect combination for our terrarium. Not to mention that a lot of drought-tolerant plants are succulents, which most can grow roots off of cut leaves and stems.

Spring Break is among us in this house and I’m home with a bored 8-year-old. I was about to recycle some glass jars until I had the idea to do a project with the “bored kid.” The moment I mentioned “terrarium” she sprung to her feet and started scavenging around the garden for little plants and rocks.  Then she ran to her room to get her glass “Tinies” so that they could “live” in a jar.

We ended up with this.

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

You’ll want to pick slow-growing plants that are small enough to fit several in your jar. You’ll also want to choose plants that have similar water, soil and lighting needs.

DIY Terrariums in a Jar Tutorial

To make a terrarium, you’ll need

  • small gravel or pebbles
  • activated charcoal
  • potting soil
  • tools to position plants (chopsticks, tweezers) and a small spoon if your jar is really small
  • spray bottle with water

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

To make your bottom layer, start with a little gravel, then a thin layer of activated charcoal, and top it off with potting soil. The gravel provides drainage and the charcoal helps to keep the soil fresh. Spray the soil down to moisten it.

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

Position your plants and rocks using your “tools” or if you have a helper with small hands, that will do, too.

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

Water it down one last time and let it sit in the shade for about a week to settle in.

DIY Terrariums in a Jar Tutorial - Don't Mess with Mama.com

You can choose to cover the jar or leave it open. You just want to make sure that you don’t have more than 25% condensation. If you see your jar is fogging up, just open the jar to let some air in. Succulents don’t need a lot of moisture. But if you’re planting small ferns or baby tears, you can leave the jar closed.

We also tried a spice jar on its side, which was challenging. This is where the baby spoon came in handy:

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

We layered the jar similarly, being conscious of the space we had to put plants in. The cool thing is that once the jar is filled, the weight of the soil and plants help it to stay put so you don’t need a special stand to keep it from rolling away.

Terrarium in a Jar - Don't Mess with Mama

There are so many creative ways to make terrariums. Try a burned-out light bulb or even in a clear lamp base! The possibilities are endless.

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