A few years back, I visited a home of a friend of my mother’s during the winter in New England and she had a lovely indoor garden made up mostly of terrariums I completely fell in love with. I asked her how to make a terrarium also known as a fairy garden; and discovered not only were they easy to make, they were super simple to care for.
The best part about terrariums is that you can make them as big as you like or as small as you need. The only thing terrariums really require is a light spritzing of water and indirect sunlight. Uncovered terrariums will need a bit more work because you’ll have to water them more than the covered type. Open or closed, you will need to keep in mind the type of plants you’re using. Sun loving plants like cacti require have different soil requirements than say succulents, so doing a little research before hand will ensure you’re terrarium will thrive.
Supplies You’ll Need To Build Your Terrarium
- Clean, glass or plastic containers with a large enough opening to fit plants inside (unless you use long tweezers or spoons etc, you may be able to make a narrower container work.)
- Small stones is the usual fair, but gravel, pebbles, sea glass, pieces of pottery, mosaic tiles, would all work.
- Activated charcoal (not the kind you barbecue with). If creating a container with a closed lid – as it helps to keep the soil fresh.
- Plants – The size depends on how big your terrarium will be. Using plants of various sizes makes for a visually appealing terrarium.
- Moss to fill in any areas where soil is visible.
- Decorative stones, figurines, or small plastic items.
- Funnel if your using a container with a narrow opening.
- Long Tweezers, or ice tea spoons (for digging) etc. You can also purchase tools specifically made for terrarium building – like this one I found on Amazon.
Steps To Build Your Terrarium or Fairy Garden:
Because you’re using a container with no holes for drainage, you’ll need to create a space for excess water to collect. At the bottom of your container gently place a layer of stones or glass etc. Follow with a thin layer of charcoal if your container will be closed.
Next lay a layer of sand, and then charcoal followed by soil. Pay close attention to how the layers appear from the outside of your container.
Gently remove the plant from the container and brush off an excess soil.
Place your plants in a staggered pattern, being careful not to over plant. Gently pack the soil, then cover any open spaces with moss. Add in any decorative or whimsical items of your choosing. Spritz with water and you’re done!
How to Care for A Terrarium
- Closed terrariums require very little water. In the beginning water once or twice a week with a light spritzing of water. If condensation collects on the sizes of the container you’re over watering. Open the lid for a while to allow for some evaporation. When watering if you’ve added in moss, try to avoid getting it wet. Open terrariums, will require more frequent watering, your goal being to have it slightly damp and never totally dry.
- Trim dead leaves and collect any foliage that over grows or leaves that die and fall.
- Terrariums do best in natural, indirect light. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight so as to not burn your plants as the glass acts as a magnifier to the sun’s rays.
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Nicole Olea’s love language is communication. She does this best using her keyboard as a freelance copywriter and editor. Creative and resilient with high-level experience in social media management, content creation, and eCommerce marketing, Nicole Olea was a professional volunteer, sharing her skills with various non-profit organizations who paid her in hugs. For the last 20 years, she’s lived a quasi-nomadic life, moving across the country and the Atlantic with her active-duty husband and their three kids. She’s awkwardly stumbling toward her goal of becoming a saint. She’s got God-sized dreams and wants you to have them too!
Cat Davis says
I have always wanted to make one of these. I’ve seen some pretty elaborate ones but I’m not sure I have the skill to arrange everything.
This looks like so much fun! My son would love doing a project like this!
We recently went to a fairy garden party. The kids had a blast personalizing them. I’d love to make more like yours!