Outdoors Craft: Build Your Own Terrariums

As we near the colder months many want to find a way to beat those winter blues. Plants have been scientifically proven to increase productivity, decrease stress, and improve the air quality inside! Head outside to bring your own little piece of nature in for the winter. Before we get started gathering for your terrarium, you’ll want to know the different main types.

Open or Closed?

You have probably noticed that some terrariums are open on the top while others are sealed up. This is because different plants need different environments. In order to know what type you need to make, you’ll have to know what type of plant you want to have in it.

  • Tropical plants need a warm and moist environment like in the rain forest. In order to provide this type of environment for them, you need a closed terrarium. You’ll see a pretty neat cycle occur right in your little homemade terrarium if you plan to have a closed design with a tropical plant. A water cycle will begin as the sunlight warms the inner environment. The water in the soil will evaporate, condense on the sides and top of the glass, and then fall back to the plant again. Now, it’s not going to storm in there or anything, but it’s pretty cool to have all that going on right in your living room.

  • Dry plants, called succulents, will not do well in the moist environment of a closed terrarium. If you’re planning to have a cactus or an aloe plant, you want to have an open terrarium and allow for drainage in the bottom. Contrary to popular belief, these plants do need to be watered often, but the soil needs to dry in between watering. Standing water is what will cause these types of plants to die just as will a lack of water.

If you’re unsure what your plant needs, look up where it originates and what the environment there is like. If it’s a moist environment then you want to make your plant an open terrarium. If it comes form a rather dry environment, make sure it has an open terrarium and that there is a layer of rock in the bottom with soil on top so the water doesn’t just puddle and drowned the poor thing.

DIY Terrarium

Now that you know what type of plant you want to have you can start gathering the supplies to make it! Some of the supplies can be found in the dollar store so this is a pretty inexpensive project! Depending on the type you’re making, you may even have some of these supplies laying around.


  • Glass container (Wide open top for succulents, closed top for tropical plants)

  • Small rocks

  • Potting soil (pay attention to the type needed for the plant you have. Ask someone in the gardening department if you’re unsure!)

  • Activated charcoal

  • Your plant(s)


1. Put a layer of rocks in the bottom of the glass container. You want a smaller layer of around 1/2” for tropical plants and at least 2” for succulents.

2. Pour the charcoal on top of the rock layer. Adding charcoal will help to kill off anything that tries to grow in the water other than your plant. It just keeps the entire environment well balanced.

3. Add your potting soil (after you’ve made sure it’s right for your plant). You want to make sure there’s enough soil in there to completely cover the roots even as they continue to grow.

4. Dig down into the soil where you want to add your plant. Break up any soil that is already on the roots of your plant and then rinse the roots off. If they’re crazy long you can trim them with scissors.

5. Place the plant in the little area you’ve dug out and then pack the soil back in around it. Make sure it’s nice and tight, and don’t be afraid to add more soil if you need to!

6. Now you can decorate the terrarium however you want! Many people like to add moss or a few decorative stones on the top of the soil around the plant.

7. Add a bit of water for your little plant’s first feeding. If you’re planting a tropical plant, put the top on after watering.

8. Place the plant where it will be able to get some sun. How much sun will again depend on the type of plant you have. Usually they come with a little card that says how much and what type (direct or indirect) sunlight they need.

Keep an eye on your plant and watch it grow. Sometimes it’s fun to place something next to the container for size evaluation and then take daily or weekly photos. Make sure to add water and if you have a closed terrarium, once a week, take the top off for the day and add different water. This will help keep things like mold from growing in the water.

For more information on how to let your green thumb blossom on the go, click here!