Design Fixation: Terrarium Tutorial + A Few Tips


Terrarium Tutorial + A Few Tips

I've been wanting to make a terrarium for quite a while... I thought it would be a fun DIY project, and I love having plants around (they're good for the soul). So my mom and I made them together on Mother's Day. And now I'm going to show you how to make one yourself!

First you'll need to head to your local garden supply store to grab these items:

  • A bag of Cactus and Succulent Potting Mix
  • A bag of activated charcoal
  • Decorative rocks (or collect them outside)
  • 2 or 3 succulent plants
  • Moss (optional)
  • A large, wide-mouthed glass jar (top is optional)

I used white marble rocks that I bought at Lowes, and they look pretty great (in my opinion). I didn't have the space for moss in my terrariums, but it does make a nice addition.

  1. First, put a layer of rocks along the bottom of your glass container. These will help regulate the moisture inside the terrarium.
  2. Next, put a 1 inch layer of activated charcoal on top of the rocks.
  3. Put a thin layer of potting mix down on the charcoal.
  4. Then come the succulents. Arrange them however you'd like. 
  5. Add more potting mix around the edges and in between the plants.
  6. If you're adding moss, this is the time to do it.
  7. Water your terrarium thoroughly but carefully. 

And you're all finished! Doesn't it look pretty? One thing I love about terrariums (the covered ones anyways) is that they are pet-proof. My puggle Charlie is always into everything - the other day I caught him nibbling on my cilantro plant - so yes, covered is crucial at our house.

I had an extra succulent leftover, so I made an uncovered terrarium with a glass vase I had lying around. This one is up on a higher shelf though, in case Charlie decides to get into mischief.

Here are a few helpful tips that I learned along the way:

  • You might want to use a mask when pouring the charcoal... it kicks up some nasty black dust.
  • Putting a top on your terrarium is optional according to the "terrarium expert" I spoke with at my local flower shop.
  • Activated charcoal is not optional... it lets the succulents breathe.
  • You might want to gently remove some of the soil from the bottom of the succulents before you plant them, because otherwise your soil layer will be very thick (you can see that this happened to me on the covered terrarium above).
  • The afore-mentioned terrarium expert also told me that you only need to water your terrarium once every week or two by misting it lightly with a spray bottle.
  • Try not to let the succulent leaves touch the glass... they'll fare better that way.

Best of luck, happy gardening!

{Design Fixation}


  1. I love these! I have some succulents in an open glass container that are slowly dying.. I think I'm watering them too much! Do they only need a light misting every week or two if they are in an open terrarium too?

  2. Too bad! Yes, I don't think they need too much water in general, so maybe that's the problem. Also, different varieties need different amounts of sun so if they're in a shady spot try moving them somewhere sunny (or vise versa). Good luck!

  3. Hiya!

    Here's a new 'follow' from me, KnittyNora.

    Found your blog whilst searching for sewing patterns and found your 15 minute dress :)

    KnittyNora xx

  4. Welcome KnittyNora, thanks for reading!


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