How to Make a Cheap Terrarium


Terrariums are an attractive way to display plants in a predominantly self-sustaining ecosystem. A terrarium consists of one or more plants growing within a sealed or open glass container, along with decorative elements such as rocks. Instead of buying a terrarium kit, make one from items you likely already have lying around.

Step 1

Clean a glass container, removing any dirt or labels. Use a glass-top canning jar, glass fish bowl or a large glass vase as the terrarium.

Step 2

Place a 1- to 2-inch layer of clean pebbles in the bottom of the terrarium. Cover this with a 1/2-inch layer of crushed charcoal and a thin layer of sphagnum moss.

Step 3

Add 2 inches or more of a peat-based soil mixture. Moisten the mixture with water until it is as damp as a slightly wrung-out sponge.

Step 4

Plant your transplants in the terrarium soil at the same depth they were at in their nursery pots. Place them so that none of the leaves touch the glass sides of the jar, as this makes them more prone to disease.

Step 5

Spray the plants with a mist of water to rinse off any soil residue from the leaves.

Step 6

Place the terrarium in a brightly lit area that is out of direct sunlight and leave it uncovered as the plants adjust.

Step 7

Place the cover on the terrarium once the plants' leaves are dry but while the soil is still damp. If your terrarium doesn't have a cover, place a piece of plastic wrap over the opening and secure it with a rubber band.

Step 8

Water the terrarium every four to six months, or when the sides stop fogging up with excess moisture.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove any dead or damaged leaves from plants in the terrariums, as these can breed disease in the closed environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass container
  • Pebbles
  • Charcoal
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Soil
  • Plants
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band


  • University of Missouri Extension: Terrariums
Keywords: cheap terrarium, jar garden, homemade plant terrarium

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.