How to Create a Closed Terrarium

How to Create a Closed Terrarium

Looking for a unique way to add a dose of green to your space? Consider creating a closed terrarium!

A closed terrarium is a self-contained ecosystem that thrives thanks to the clear glass walls and closed top of a terrarium container. The heat and light that enters the glass, combined with the moisture created by the plants and soil, create a small-scale water cycle. Once your closed terrarium is up and running with the perfect balance of light, heat, and moisture, it will become a nearly self-sufficient atmosphere.

Besides being a cool science project, closed terrariums are downright charming. With a little creativity, you can create a miniature forest, farm, jungle, or mountain scene in your home.

How to Create a Closed Terrarium

Ready to get started making your own closed terrarium? Here’s everything you need to know:

Closed terrarium supplies:

  • A large glass jar with lid—Such as our Cylinder Terrarium with Lid or our Glass Cloche
  • Stones—To aid in drainage
  • Activated charcoal—For keeping your soil fresh
  • High-quality potting soil
  • Assorted plants—It’s important to choose plants that do well in the humid environment of a closed terrarium. Ferns, friendship plant, watermelon peperomia, starfish plant, strawberry begonia, aquamarine, and moss are all great choices
  • Accessories—If you want, you can add stones, small animal figures, and fairy garden accessories to create a scene in your terrarium
  • Dry paint brush
  • Or, snag everything you need at once with our DIY Terrarium Kit

How to make a closed terrarium:

  1. Begin by washing your glass vessel with hot water and soap. It’s important to start with a sanitary container.
  2. Add an inch or two of drainage stones to the bottom of your terrarium.
  3. Add an inch of activated charcoal on top of the stones.
  4. Next add your potting soil. You need a depth that’s appropriate for your container and also sufficient for your plants’ roots. You can get creative with your soil, creating hills, valleys, and slopes.
  5. Now it’s time to add your plants! Break up their root balls before planting in the soil, and be sure to give each plant sufficient room to grow.
  6. If you want to add accessories, place them in your terrarium now. Get creative with it and make a miniature landscape!
  7. Once all your plants and accessories are situated, it’s time to clean it all up. Use the dry paintbrush to clean the sides of the glass, as well as the plant leaves and accessories.
  8. The next step is to water your plants. Be conservative with watering giving them just a few tablespoons of water. Remember, once you put on the lid, the plants will begin creating their own moisture.
  9. Add the lid to your terrarium and display in your home!

A few notes on closed terrarium care:

Now that your closed terrarium is up and running, there are a few things you can do to keep it healthy.

When you’re first getting started, it might take a little time to get the right moisture balance. If you find your terrarium is too steamed up with condensation on the glass, remove the lid and let it dry out a bit.

It’s also important to find the right amount of sunlight for your closed terrarium. Filtered, indirect sunlight is best for a closed terrarium. Direct sunlight will be intensified by your terrarium’s glass walls and can actually burn your plants.

Loving these closed terrarium ideas? To recreate them, start here:

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