How To Make a Terrarium

Time to get your green fingers out…


There are two things that I’m pretty horrendous at when it comes to interiors; putting prints into frames and planting things into the many (and when I say many, I mean many – they are just so cute!) terrariums that I buy. The former can be solved by opting for the ‘Buy With Frame’ option if it’s offered at checkout and I’ve learnt the hard way that even though it might be a pricer way of doing it, it’s better than ending up with a rolled-up print in the corner of your room because it’s a weird size that even Amazon don’t offer a frame for. Been there, done that and it’s still got the elastic band around it.

The latter however, requires a bit more time and an opportunity for my rarely used green fingers to make an appearance. It also requires a trip to Homebase which I always find the most frustrating experience because I can never find what I want, and end up just looking at paint swatches instead because it’s way more fun. This time round however, I persisted, managed to find everything on my shopping and succeeded in successfully planting, not one, but three terrariums. Baby steps people. Mark was dead chuffed when he came home and saw these so although these are a nice addition to the home, I think they’d make great gifts too (shameless plug for my alternative gift guide video that’s going live on Sunday here).


Googling ‘How to make a terrarium’ gives a million and one blog posts, each with their own way and tips and tricks – the whole thing seemed extremely confusing which is why I put it off for so long. Instead I did it the old fashion way and got myself a book – ‘Bring The Outside In’ by Val Bradley – and followed her rules. Open terrariums in glass containers with high and/or incurving apparently strive in cool and shady conditions and to fill them you’re looking for small leafy plants and succulents.

All you need is a container, some gravel, compost, plants and you’re good to go. Work out what plants you  want to situate where, then put a layer of gravel at the bottom of your terrarium to aid with drainage, followed by a layer of compost and then water your plants in gently to settle them into their spot. Easy peasy. I put a little moss around the top for decorative purposes that I had left over from another arrangement, but they look just as pretty without. Pop your finished terrarium by a non-sunny window and water it about once a week, giving it some liquid houseplant food once a month to keep it going until the plants get too big for the container.


My takeaways? Don’t do it in your white tiled floor kitchen or else you’ll end up hoovering three times in the space of 10 minutes; borrow a neighbours or family member’s garden. Screw getting a spade – a cup measurement will do, also a spoon to pat the soil down; kitchen utensils for the win! Finally cacti are really sharp and you will swear about 34 times when you try to pat the soil down around them and so wear some kind of tough building gloves if you’ve got some hanging around. Cashmere blend gloves from Uniqlo don’t count. All that’s left is sit back, relax and enjoy your low-key, no-fuss terrarium.