How to Make a Glass Terrarium

I will admit to having a plant obsession, so, it was only a matter of time till I started in on glass terrariums.  But what fueled the new obsession?  Adam and I recently got married and while we agreed not to get gifts for each other someone decided to get me a new book on terrariums (*cough* Dork *cough*).  Holy plant porn!  Not every project was to my taste but all of them were inspiring.  I had never thought of decorating glass terrariums with feathers, sand, bark, etc.  It opened up a new world of decoration that allows me to bring plants indoors in a modern display.  While it is fairly easy to create a glass terrarium there are some tricks that I have discerned that make the process a LOT easier.  On to the tutorial:

DIY Glass Terrarium

How to make a DIY Glass Terrarium

Glass Terrarium Supplies

There are really three basics that you must have outside of a glass container:

  1. Plants*: these are some succulents I have been propagating and some air plants we picked up at a recent craft festival
  2. Soil*: Potting or fast draining cactus mix; unless you are using air plants
  3. Drainage Material
  4. Container: I went to Goodwill and scoured the shelves.  I was able to find a number of interesting glass containers for $1-$4.  Just make sure they are clear glass.  Tinted or colored glass can mess with the plant photosynthesis

Additional items that make the terrarium look really good:

  • Moss: Hardware stores often sell sheet moss cheaply.  Pretty reindeer moss is available in most craft stores.  We waited till we had a 40% off coupon and got a large bag.
  • Sand: Craft stores have a number of colors.  I also might try dyeing sand like I do in this tutorial, however, I would likely keep that to air plants so I do not wash out the color when watering.
  • Rocks
  • Feathers
  • Wood
  • Sea Shells
  • Etc : Anything that can withstand water or, if using air plants, you are pretty much unlimited

How to make a DIY Glass Terrarium

Step 1: Planning

A little planning goes a long way with a glass terrarium.  First, look at your plant and the conditions it needs to survive.  I also tried to find a plant that had a shape that complimented my tall glass container.  After matching up your plant consider HOW you will be planting it.  You can pour the dirt in the container but if you can not fit your hand in there you will have some issues. Long cocktail stirrers or chopsticks can help press the dirt firmly around the plant.

Step 2: Keep it Dry

My first big mistake was trying to plant a glass terrarium with damp materials…  Ugh.  Everything sticks to the glass, or plants, getting everywhere and becoming near impossible to remove until it is dry again.  Start by placing your drainage material at the bottom, and layering your dirt next.  I placed a layer of bark between the rocks and dirt to keep the distinct bands.  That step was purely for aesthetics.  Next plant the plant but do NOT water yet.

Step 3: Clean and Tidy

If you have not watered, then you have the opportunity to take a soft cloth and wipe off the glass.  You can also blow SOFTLY through a drinking straw to clean dust or move sand around. Removing the dust and dirt from above the soil line is what gives the terrarium a clean modern feel.  Take this opportunity to place smaller decorative objects.  I used some reindeer moss and a small (live) hen and chick next to the main succulent.  You could also place rocks, a layer of sand, etc.  The only limit is space, ability to withstand dampness, and your imagination.

How to make a DIY Glass Terrarium

Step 4: Tips and Tricks

Time to water!  This is where everything can and has gone South for me.  Water too fast and you end up making holes in the soil, or flooding the entire terrarium.  Trust me on this one, flooding it is bad, bad, bad.  I was talking instead of paying attention (imagine that) and ended up floating all my plants out of the soil and mixing in my sand.  I had to dump everything and start over.  The easiest way to insure a non-messy watering is use a spray bottle and let it trickle down the glass.  Otherwise, be super careful to only add a trickle of water.

Notes:

Make sure to pay attention to the microclimate you just created.  The sun can get very warm through the glass and/or the environment can easily get too wet or dry.  The nice thing is that the container is glass so you can actually look at the soil and drainage material to see your water level.  Also, remember there is not a lot of nutrients (as in none) coming into your terrarium.  You may need to add a liquid fertilizer every 3-4 months to keep your plants nice and healthy.

If you want some amazing inspiration this was the book I got as a gift:*


Otherwise a quick glance through Pinterest can really give some great ideas to get you started.

How to make a DIY Glass Terrarium

21 thoughts on “How to Make a Glass Terrarium

  1. Hi,
    Just found your blog by way of the Big red P. Terrariums can be great fun. A long ..’….. time ago I did them in 5gal bottles. I would like to add one little thing. I was taught to put charcoal ( the kind you find in the fish store for aquariums ) on top of the stones and before the dirt. I think this was done to keep the water….ah sweat from the sides….any of the moisture from the sides nice. When I was doing them it was in 5gal. water bottles. With doing them in bottles you can get to the right point you don’t water them. If there is condensation on the sides of the inside don’t water. Two weeks ago I found a 5 gal. bottle at Good Will and will be doing one as soon as we move into our new house.
    Thank you for having us in your home.
    Ed

    • The ones I have built haven’t had lids or plants that required lots of water. I would think the charcoal would be important for a wetter terrarium. Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. Hi Brianna! What a wonderful tutorial and excellent idea. I can’t wait to make a few of these. I’ve got the perfect sunny spot on my kitchen window sill. Thanks so much for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays. I’ll be featuring this post at tomorrow’s party. Can’t wait to see what you bring to this week’s party.

    Anne @ Domesblissity x

  3. Great tip about the watering – I would have killed them !! Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board.

  4. I love your tips, I would have gotten the dirt all over as I watered and had to start all over. I need to find plants that don’t need much sun, we have big windows but it doesn’t seem that it’s enough for plants. At least that’s my excuse for killing them all! I’d love to have a terrarium. Yours is gorgous!

    Thanks for linking to “What are you working on?” Wednesday! You always inspire me. In fact, the in laws moved into a new home and they are missing a stair railing, someone already fell, I directed them to your blog, to make one with plumbing pipes, the husband was so excited to see your idea! It was perfect. Thanks! See you next week!

  5. What an informative post! Love your affiliate disclosure~ Beer! Thank you so much for linking up to Merry Monday this week! I am sharing your post today on my We hope to see you next week for another great party! Have a great week!
    Best,
    Kim

    • It isn’t exactly hard, but it takes a little more skill than I first imagined. It truly is not as easy as plunking a plant in a container, there is a bit of finesse/practice to make it look good.

Leave a Comment