Under Glass-DIY Spring Terrarium Tutorial

By Michelle Vackar, hi mamma

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Creating. Imagination. Working together. Designing. Discovering. Learning and having fun. They all describe a week at our home in Indiana. I am sure you are wondering, “what in the world is she talking about?” Believe it or not, it is the day-and-the-life of two daughters and a mama. Over the past few months, as we have contributed to oh my! handmade goodness, the excitement, the projects ideas and the true spirit of fun have been sparked with curiosity in each article. Many times the projects have been created in our sunroom, where we spend a lot of time learning and enjoying the now soft spring breeze coming through the windows, and hearing the birds chirp.

As we observe the nature outside our sunroom, it dawns on me that really all of our plants are in the sunroom and none are in the house. When we have been outside, my daughters have enjoyed cutting daffodils and keeping them in their rooms in a small vase as a little sign of spring. Something that is really so very simple has brought so much pleasure. A light bulb goes off…let’s make terrariums for each of the girls’ rooms! The terrariums are mini indoor gardens that are very low maintenance and self watering, and something that they can learn to take care of and watch grow.

The materials that you will need for a terrarium:

  • A clear glass container with a lid (wide mouth containers work the best because then you are able to place the contents and plants much easier into the container)
  • Potting soil
  • Small stones, pebbles, or gravel (need roughly 1” layer to fit in your glass container)
  • Activated charcoal (need roughly a ½ inch layer to fit on top of your stone)
  • Plants (depends upon your container)

If you would like to add little figurines to your terrariums you can add these at the end. You can also add shells, extra rocks, etc…

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What type of plants do you use? You want to make sure that the plants you select all have the same growing requirements (low, medium or high light). We thought you might like a few examples of plants for an enclosed terrarium that you can find at your local store. You will need to check the information stick that comes within the plant container to make sure that it will fit in the area that you are interested in.

  • Small fern
  • Lipstick plant
  • Buddhist pine
  • Aluminum plant
  • African violets
  • Boxwood
  • Creeping Charlie
  • Mosses
  • Bromeliads
  • Ivy

Step 1: Make sure that your container is clean.

Step 2: Start by adding a 1 inch layer of stone/pebbles to the bottom of the glass container. Be sure to add them gently so that they do not break or crack the container. The stone/pebbles help the soil to drain.

Step 3: Add a thin layer of charcoal, roughly ½ inch thick. The charcoal will help filter the water in the terrarium, as well as absorb odors — otherwise your terrarium may start to smell.

Step 4: After the pebbles and charcoal have been layered, you will want to add between 3 inches to 4 inches of potting soil.

Step 5: When deciding how you are going to arrange the terrarium try placing the plants on top of the soil to see how the plants might look and give you an idea of the growing space needed. After deciding where you are going to place the plants take them out of the potting container. If they have a strong root system, gently remove the excess dirt from the bottom and allow the roots to “breathe”. But if you decide to have a violet in your container garden, do not take much dirt away from the roots, violets do not have strong rooting system so really just leave them as they are when taking out of the container so that the violet is not damaged.

Step 6: Place your plants in your glass container and add some extra potting soil around them and water lightly. You do not want to water too much because the container, once closed with the lid, will produce its own environment.
Step 7: If you would like to add figurines to your container for a little fun, please do so.

Step 8: Place the lid on top of the glass container.

Step 9: Enjoy watching the plants thrive in your new container.

Have you built a terrarium or done any gardening with your children? Share your thoughts & stories in the comments!

photo layouts thanks to the lovely pugleypixel!


  1. Nancy Blanks says:

    Thanks for the terranium totorial. I have often thought of starting one. Congrats on the new baby. He/She is so fortunate to have you as a Mommy.

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